Knowing what to do with your driveway can be hard when there are so many options available. Choosing between block paving and gravel; concrete and tarmac – it can be hard to know which is the right material for your space.
If you’re looking for a simple solution with minimal installation time and a cost-effective price to boot, then tarmacking your driveway might be the way to go.
Weather-resistant and impermeable, you can side-step the risk of flooding you might encounter with other driveway materials, lasting upwards of fifteen years, and still looking as good as the day it was first laid.
In this article, we’ll cover how much it costs to tarmac your driveway, what affects the cost of driveway tarmac, how you can save money on tarmacking your drive, choosing between concrete or tarmac, the uses of hot and cold tarmac and how to find someone to tarmac your drive.
Keep reading to find out if tarmacking your driveway is the best option for your home.
How Much Will It Cost to Tarmac My Driveway?
Assuming we’re using black tarmac, here are some estimated prices and labour costs for single, double and triple car driveways:
|Size||Estimated Costs||Labour Costs||Time Required||Total Estimated Costs|
|Single car driveway (15 square metres)||£750||£862.50||1 to 2 days||£1,612.50|
|Double car driveway (25 square metres)||£1,000||£1,437.50||2 to 4 days||£2,437.50|
|Triple car driveway (30 square metres)||£1,650||£1,725||1 week||£3,375|
Including labour costs of between £50 to £65 per square metre.
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What Affects the Cost of Driveway Tarmac?
Although tarmac is usually the most cost-effective solution, some factors can affect the base price you can expect to pay. Depending on your budget, these are the areas you can look to save or spend.
As with all home renovations, the sheer size of an area will directly impact the price you’ll pay. It will not only increase the amount of material you’ll need but the time it takes for the labourers to complete the project.
However, building suppliers will normally discount for bulk buying, so it’s always worth enquiring when dealing with larger spaces to see if you can save some money on your materials.
The shape of your driveway will be a good indicator of the price you can expect to pay. As a general rule with most renovations, straight-edged shapes will require less time and skill than more organic shapes.
Tarmac is laid as a liquid, so it isn’t a problem to fill unusually-shaped areas – but the tarmac will need to be edged to make sure that it doesn’t move from the desired position. This edge can be made up of concrete, timber or block paving, and this is where the time will be spent to make sure you have a clean, well-formed edge to pen the tarmac into place.
A key component of a tarmacked drive’s success is in there being a slope so that rainwater can run away from the house and into a nearby drain, so as not to cause any unwanted areas of standing water.
If your driveway is uneven or requires some excavation to create a slope where there wasn’t one before, this will incur greater costs than someone with an existing, naturally sloping driveway.
Choice of Tarmac
Tarmac is most commonly seen in black colour, but coloured tarmac options are available for those wanting a different shade. There are two options for colouring your tarmac – one is in adding a dye to the raw material, and the second is with using a sealant once the black tarmac has been laid.
Prices vary depending on the colour chosen, but a red-dyed tarmac can typically add £10 to £20 per square metre to your base cost, with sealants being around £35 for 5 litres.
As we’ve briefly mentioned, ensuring sufficient drainage of your tarmacked driveway is essential. In some cases, existing drains will work in tandem with your new driveway, but in others, brand new drainage systems will be required.
Your drainage must not cross public footpaths, and if that’s your current configuration a new drainage solution must be acquired before the tarmac is laid.
Adding in a soakaway is an option for circumstances where there is no other route for the water to take than in the direction of a public footpath, but these can cost between £500 to £1500, so it’s something to consider before you embark on tarmacking your driveway to make sure your budget allows for it.
Ease of Access
Whether or not your property can give access to the large vehicles needed to complete your driveway’s tarmacking is a key consideration for adding extra money onto your project fee if your current driveway is inaccessible.
How Can I Save Money on the Cost of Driveway Tarmac?
If your driveway is already tarmacked but there are a few hairline cracks or potholes, instead of getting your entire drive re-done you can consider repairing faults yourself. Unlike tackling the entire driveway on your own, repairs are something you can normally complete without the aid of a professional.
You can buy bags of repair tarmac such as cold lay to patch up areas, from £7.20 or £0.29 per kilogram. There is also a tarmac sealant that can be used to rejuvenate the look of tired tarmac, from £36.95 per 5 kilograms of product.
The thing to consider when completing this type of repair is that the affected areas will be visible. In situations where multiple repairs need to be done, instead of many little patches, repairing a slightly larger area to include all the affected areas might help to make it look less slap-dash than lots of little patches.
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What’s Involved in Tarmacking a Driveway?
To entirely tarmac a driveway, it’s best to get in a team of professionals to handle the materials and to give you the best finish possible. The steps are as follows:
- Excavation and removal of existing driveway surface
- Installation of a high-grade membrane to prevent weed growth
- Edging is laid on a sand and cement base. Depending on the shape and size of the driveway, this stage will usually take the longest
- The sub-base is then laid, compacted either manually or mechanically
- The first layer of tarmac – also known as the binding course – is laid by hand or machine, in conjunction with a roller for compaction
- A surface course is applied and compacted using a roller to create a smooth final finish
- Finishing touches are made, and site clearance includes taking away all the rubbish and debris caused by the project
Should I Choose Tarmac or Concrete for My Driveway?
If you’re wanting something cost-effective, tarmac is by far the best choice – but if you’re willing to spend a little more, a concrete driveway can be a great option for longevity.
Advantages of Tarmac:
- Low cost – less per square metre than other driveway surfaces
- Durable and weather-resistant – tarmac will last more than 15 years if properly taken care of
- Quick and easy to instal – can be completed within a couple of days, depending on size
- Low-cost maintenance – apart from patching up, tarmac driveways are long-lasting and durable
- With tarmac, you can enjoy a durable surface for at least 15 years maintenance-free.
Disadvantages of Tarmac:
- Repairs – tarmac is susceptible to cracks and potholes, which exposes the aggregate in the material
- Heat – tarmac can get really hot in the warmer months, which can lead to tyre marks being left from your vehicles
- Sealing – the driveway will need to be re-sealed every 5 years
Advantages of Concrete:
- Long-lasting – lasting for 40 years if well-maintained
- Value-adding – concrete driveways signal low maintenance thanks to the high cost of installation
- Heat-resistant –concrete doesn’t absorb heat and won’t get excessively hot in the summer months
Disadvantages of Concrete:
- Expensive – although this can be cost-neutral in the long run when re-selling your property
- Hard to patch up – if cracks, dents or holes appear over time, it’s hard to get them covered or repaired
- Oil leaks – can be hard to disguise.
Should I Use Cold Lay or Hot Lay Tarmac?
The type of tarmac you need will differ depending on your job. Generally speaking, for small repair jobs, you’ll want cold lay (or cold mix), which is readily available from DIY shops. For larger jobs, like resurfacing the entirety of your driveway from scratch, you’ll need hot lay (or hot mix), which will be delivered by a specialist vehicle.
Advantages of Cold Lay:
- Readily available – bought from DIY shops, the bags can fit in your car
- Easy to use – cold lay is ready to use from the bag
Disadvantages of Cold Lay:
- More expensive – as cold lay is used predominantly for repairs, buying bags in bulk won’t be a cost-effective route. If patching up a larger area, it may turn out to be better value to use hot lay and get a discount at trade prices
- Setting time – cold lay needs time to set so that you don’t tread the sticky mixture into your home or your car
- Temporary – great for a quick-fix, for a longer-term solution you’ll need to resurface using hot lay
Advantages of Hot Lay
- Long-lasting – hot lay adheres to the existing tarmac better than cold lay because of the heat at which it is applied, making it a better long-term solution as it’s less likely to wear away over time
- Cost-effective – compared to cold lay as a raw material
Disadvantages of Hot Lay
- Professional help – you can’t lay hot mix yourself and will need it to be applied as soon as it is delivered
- Delivery charges – it’s not something you can transport in your vehicle, so you’ll need to factor in transport fees.
How Do I Find and Hire Someone to Tarmac My Driveway?
If you’ve seen someone in your neighbourhood have their driveway tarmacked recently, speak to them to see if they’d recommend their workers. Finding reputable, trusted tradespeople can be hard, so finding a word-of-mouth recommendation is a great way to weed out any potential cowboy traders.
Another way to ensure your traders are reputable is to search Interlay, which is the Association of Paving Contractors. Here, you’re able to search a database of trusted members to choose from, who have been vetted to ensure all works are carried out following British Standards, with all members receiving the latest guidance on Paving and SuDS regulations to ensure their practices are up-to-date.
Using HouseholdQuotes is a great way to consolidate your online search by letting you compare like-for-like offers from traders, which can help to save you around 40% on your quotes from other providers.
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Ensuring the Professional Is the Right Fit
Obtaining a written quote is an essential part of any job. It makes sure that both parties have a written agreement of terms, and both understand what is expected of each other. This way, it’s easier to settle disputes as you’ve got a record of what’s been agreed to reference.
Finding out a tradesperson’s experience is a given in any situation, but especially if you’re going to require new or extra drainage, or if your driveway is an unusual shape, it’s best to find someone with a match for your needs.
Similarly, asking for references will help your decision as you can hear from people who have worked with the traders before, and can either vouch for their professionalism or alert you to any problems they encountered. It’s important to ensure that they are insured and part of a recognised trade body, too.
Finally, easily overlooked – always find out if rubbish removal is included in your quote. This can save you a lot of bother at the end of your job, especially if it’s a large driveway with a lot of rubble and wastage to remove.
Choosing to tarmac your driveway is a cost-effective option, yielding a lifespan of around 20 years if properly cared for and treated. Here’s our final checklist to make sure you have the best experience possible when getting your driveway worked on:
- Consider the slope, shape and ease of access to your driveway – these factors can bump up the price of your driveway work
- Are there existing drains you can make use of, or will you need a new system fitted?
- Choose between standard black tarmac, or coloured (but remember you can always use a coloured sealant at the last stage if you change your mind somewhere along the way)
- Find a reputable tradesman using HouseholdQuotes to help save you up to 40% off your quote, making sure the traders give you a written quote, proof of experience and insurance before they start work.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Tarmac My Driveway Myself?
- The gradient of the land
- The condition of the existing driveway surface and whether excavation work is required
- The size of an area to be covered
- Knowledge of driveway construction process and the properties of tarmac (how to use it safely and handling procedures)
There are a lot of moving pieces that require fitting perfectly for you to have a long-lasting, hassle-free tarmac driveway. Finding a professional with a proven track record and the necessary skills to carry out a perfect job is the way to go.
Do I Need Planning Permission to Tarmac My Driveway?
- You don’t need planning permission if a new or replacement driveway uses permeable surfacing which allows water to drain through
- Planning permission will be needed for surfaces more than five metres squared for impermeable surfaces.
You can check the full guidance here to see what that means for your driveway.
What Are the Planning Regulations on Dropped Kerbs?
You may need planning permission for a dropped kerb in certain circumstances, such as living in a conservation area or on a classified road. Best to check with your local council.
How Do I Clean and Maintain a Tarmacked Driveway?
For maintenance, it’s important to have a sealant applied every five years or so to protect the surface from damages.
Are There Any Alternatives to Tarmac?
Gravel driveways are great for a DIY solution and are easy to touch up yourself, whereas a resin driveway can save you time from weeding or sweeping away loose stones as the surface means there is none.
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