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Your Tarmac Driveway Cost, Explained by Professionals

How much to tarmac a driveway depends on a number of factors, which we will look at below. You will need to understand what’s included in the overall cost of tarmacking your driveway before a definitive price can be given. 

How Much Does it Cost to Tarmac a Driveway?

In most cases, the average cost to tarmac a drive per m2 falls at around £45-£65. However, you can expect prices to vary depending on many factors, such as:

  • The size and scale of the driveway
  • Labour costs
  • Planning permission (this is rarely required)
  • The type of material used
  • Location (London is typically more expensive than say, Newcastle or Manchester)

How is it Priced Up?

There is a clear difference between tarmac and asphalt. Tarmac uses natural tar, whereas asphalt is a mixture of things, mainly crushed gravel and bitumen (refined from crude oil). In most cases, when you commission a driveway installer to lay your driveway, they will often use asphalt more than tarmac. The main reason for this is because it’s more convenient and typically costs less than tarmac. However, most people who aren’t in the construction trade will use the names interchangeably. 

Despite previously stating that tarmac is more expensive than asphalt, it can still be relatively cheap to tarmac a driveway with tarmac. It’s cheap to install in both material and labour costs when compared to other popular driveway material options. 

The table below showcases a comparison between tarmac/asphalt and other driveway finishes. You can expect to pay within the below region:

Finish Cost (per m2)
Tarmac or Asphalt£45
Gravel£35
Cement or Concrete£70
Brick or Paving Slabs£210

Additional Costs of Laying a Tarmac Driveway

While the actual tarmac is typically a cheap driveway surface, you need to take into account other associated costs. This may include excavating your driveway and laying the foundations to ensure everything is professionally prepared. For example, let’s say your driveway is 50 m2, on average, you can expect to pay a minimum of £2,000 with an additional £1,000 to correctly set and lay the foundations. The foundation costs – whether your laying tarmac or paving slabs – rarely change because contractors use the same process regardless of the final finish they apply. 

Some questions you may want to ask yourself when it comes to tarmacing your driveway and the associated costs might be:

  • How steep is my slope/driveway?
  • What is the overall area of my driveway?
  • Is my driveway easy to access (for the contractor?)
  • Do I need to address surface drainage before construction work is carried out?
  • If my driveway leads onto a public footpath, does that need to be worked into the project?
  • How deep do I need to excavate?
  • Will I be buying tarmac already mixed or will it be mixed on-site?

Addressing Labour Costs and Timescales

Another factor you will need to address regarding your tarmac driveway cost is labour costs. In the UK, you can expect to pay around £150-£210 per day. Most tarmac driveway jobs take around 1 – 5 days depending on the size and schedule of the contractors. In some cases, if your driveway is larger, you can expect the contractors to take around 1 – 2 weeks. You will also need to take the weather into account because you will not be able to tarmac your driveway in wet weather. 

To give an example, a single driveway (let’s say it’s between 10 – 20m) can take around 1-2 days to complete with two experienced contractors. If the job is bigger, say 80m2, it’ll take longer, around 5 days, maybe even a week. If the ground is found to be in poor condition, this will also add time to the project. 

Supply Costs

If you’re looking to lay the tarmac yourself for a DIY project, you will need to gather the right materials. The good news is that cold lay tarmac can be bought off the shelf in most homeware and DIY stores. For each 0.2m2, you will need to buy one 25kg bag with approximately 5mm depth. That means that per 1m2, you can expect to pay about £75. 

It’s important to note that this option is better suited to repair work on a driveway as opposed to relaying the entirety of it. 

What About Hot-Mix Tarmac?

Hot-mix tarmac is far cheaper than cold lay tarmac. However, the reason for this is that hot-mix tarmac is typically sold in much larger quantities (usually by the tonne) and requires delivery from a large mixer. The cost of hot-mix tarmac by the tonne depends on the location and how much you need. For a 60m2 driveway, you would need about 4 tonnes of concrete, which is about £360 – not including the delivery costs (usually fall between £80 – £150.

Benefits and Disadvantages of Tarmac Driveways

There are a number of great benefits from using tarmac as a driveway finisher. Arguably, the biggest advantage is that tarmac is fairly cheap to buy and install in contrast to other driveway finishes. Additionally, professionally laid tarmac has a distinctive and clean look once finished. 

A professionally laid tarmac driveway will offer great durability and look fantastic upon completion for a great price. Additionally, if at any point your tarmac becomes damaged for whatever reason, it should be fairly easy to fix. It’s important to note that tarmac can degrade under UV light, so if your property uses UV light near to your driveway, be warned that over time this may affect its structural integrity. 

What to Watch Out For

Bitumen (a core material used in tarmac) is susceptible to light and will eventually dissolve and evaporate if it comes into contact with lighter oils, such as diesel and paraffin. 

Also, look out for other issues that can’t be avoided, such as weeds, moss, and algae. All of these usually grow in shaded areas (as they’re usually damp). Most contractors will lay the tarmac with geotextile weed membrane incorporated, which will help to nullify the weeds and stop them from sprouting. In rare cases, they may sprout, but you can just remove these using weed killer and plucking them from the tarmac. 

Looking for an Experienced Tarmac Contractor?

Find a Craftsman is dedicated to recommending reliable, trustworthy and experienced contractors who specialise in tarmac driveway installations. We can also help you compare tradesmen across any trade, from carpenters, builders and plasterers to plumbers and electricians, through to landscape designers, paving contractors, interior designers, bricklayers and flooring professionals.

If you’re looking for an affordable and reliable way to get your tarmac driveway completed in the UK, explore our website and find your ideal craftsmen today.