Tarmac Driveway Costs: Full Resurfacing Guide – Pros, Cons & Price

Tarmac Driveway Costs: Full Resurfacing Guide – Pros, Cons & Price

Written by  John Davies
Last updated: January 17, 2024

Most tarmac driveways cost around £50 to £80 per square metre. However, prices can reach up to £120 per square metre depending on factors we’ll discuss in this article. Regardless, tarmac is definitely one of the cheapest and most cost-effective materials for paving driveways.

It has other advantages, too. We will explore them together. However, the primary aim of this article is to cover everything you need to know about tarmac driveway costs. These include price estimates, cost factors and the differences between professional and DIY tarmac driveway costs. We will also provide a step-by-step guide for tarmacking a driveway.

How Much Does a Tarmac Driveway Cost?

ItemCost per square metre
Tarmac driveway installation£60-£80
Tarmac material alone £21-£30
Excavation and disposal£8-£12
Labour£18-£28 (or £150-£200 per day)

Tarmac Driveway Cost Calculator

Per SQM £

Factors Affecting Tarmac Driveway Costs

Here are the five main factors that affect tarmac driveway costs.


Obviously, a bigger tarmac driveway will be more expensive. This is because it will use up more materials and labour. It will also take longer to build. In fact, here is an easy way to understand this concept. Tarmac driveway costs £60 to £80 per-square-metre. Therefore, a 20 square metre tarmac driveway costs £1,200 to £1,600. Likewise, a 30-square-metre tarmac driveway costs £1,800 to £2,400.

Tarmac Material

The two main types of tarmacking materials are hot-mix and cold-lay tarmac. Professionals prefer working with hot-mix tarmac because it is stronger and more durable. It is also cheaper. Hot-mix tarmac costs £45 to £60 per tonne, while cold-lay tarmac costs £8 to £15 per 25kg.

On the other hand, hot-mix tarmac has a higher delivery fee of about £100 to £150 per tonne. Still, tarmac driveway costs are lower with hot-mic tarmac. The resulting driveway will also be stronger and more durable. This is why you should choose this option. Cold-lay tarmac is more appropriate for repairs.

Apart from the matter of cold-lay vs hot-mix tarmac, there are other ways that material choices affect tarmac driveway costs. For example, coloured tarmac is more expensive than normal ones. Some edgings are also costlier than others.

Condition of Current Driveway

Are you doing a fresh installation and resurfacing an existing driveway? Tarmac driveway costs will be lower if you are resurfacing an existing driveway. This is because you don’t need all the prep work necessary for a fresh installation.

You don’t need to excavate and build a subbase. You might also already have a drainage system in place. Therefore, driveway resurfacing is cheaper than a fresh installation. Resurfacing is a great choice if the current sub-base is healthy. However, you can only resurface a driveway twice before running into height issues. So, you may not always have this option.

Additional Costs

Projects like this almost always have additional tasks. For example, you might need drainage channels (maybe even a new soakaway), landscaping, and security lights. All of these will add to tarmac driveway costs. Here is a table showing their prices.

Additional tasksCost
Landscaping£20-£35 per hour
Dropping the kerb£100-£900
Security lights£500-£1,000


This doesn’t just apply to tarmac driveway costs. Contractors generally tend to charge higher fees in big cities (like London) and the south. So, beware of this. Location can also determine delivery costs, thereby affecting tarmac driveway costs.

Finally, you may require permits to build a (tarmac) driveway in some locations. For example, a driveway that is beside or across a public road will require planning permission. Permits cost money. Therefore, it will add to tarmac driveway costs.

How to Tarmac a Driveway

We don’t recommend DIY driveway tarmacking unless you have enough experience. However, it never hurts to understand the process, even if you still outsource the job to someone.

Step 1: Excavation

The site must be excavated up to 150mm -170mm deep. Then, it should be compacted and levelled. This will provide a solid and level surface for the driveway’s sub-base.

Step 3: Weed Membrane Installation

A weed membrane is not essential. It’s just an extra measure to ensure that weeds won’t be growing through the driveway. Weed membranes cost around £30 to £40 per square metre.

Step 4: Sub-base Installation

This sub-base is usually Type 1 aggregate or crushed stone. It must be 50mm-100mm deep. It must also be compacted and levelled.

Step 5: Edging

The edges will be installed before the tarmac is poured. They will provide the boundary that will compel tarmac to form (in place) instead of spilling around.

Step 6: Tack Coating

The next step is to spray the sub-base with bitumen emulsion. This tack coat helps with adherence.

Step 7: Tarmac Laying

The installer(s) will pour the tarmac around an hour after step 6. They will compact and smoothen poured tarmac.

Step 8: Curing

Curing involves leaving the newly laid tarmac driveway for 48 hours. During this period, the driveway must be protected from foot traffic and water. After curing, the installer will inspect the driveway, put in some finishing touches and then dispose of waste.

Why Should I Use Tarmac for My Driveway?

Tarmac has been a staple of the construction industry since 1901. It is undoubtedly reliable, durable and cost-efficient. So, you are making a great choice. Here are some of the benefits of tarmac driveways.

Durable and Tough

There is a reason that airports around the world use tarmac runways. If a tarmac driveway can support the weight of aeroplanes for generations, it can definitely support your car. It will also withstand weather and other stressors. The endurance factor is a huge selling point for British homeowners.

A well-installed and maintained tarmac installation will last 15 years or longer. It may last twice that long with proper maintenance. It will retain its looks and strength for longer than many other driveway materials. Plus, tarmac is also relatively easy to repair. You just need some cold-mix tarmac and sealant.

Cost Efficient

Gravel is the only driveway material that is significantly cheaper than tarmac. However, tarmac is still more cost-efficient because gravel needs frequent refilling. In fact, tarmac is generally one of the most cost-efficient driveway materials. A tarmac driveway costs less than brick, while resin and asphalt are within the same price range.


Tarmac is a customisable material. You can dye, paint or mark it to create a truly unique driveway. You can also use edging to create lots of pleasing effects. However, other driveway materials are also customisable. Some, more so than tarmac.

Are There Any Issues With Using Tarmac?

Here are some disadvantages of using tarmac for driveways

Not as Smooth

A tarmac driveway is not as smooth as other types of driveways. This can be challenging for your tyres, as their grip won’t be as secure.

Not a Reusable Material

Tarmac is not a reusable material. Once worn out, it must be disposed of—meanwhile, other materials, such as asphalt, can be scraped and repurposed.

Aesthetic Consequences of Repairs

Tarmac is relatively easy and cheap to repair. That’s one of its main advantages. However, it’s not easy to repair tarmac without leaving patch marks. Such marks could affect the aesthetic appeal of the driveway.

Sensitive to Oil and Petrol Spills 

Tarmac is more sensitive to oil and petrol spills (compared to other driveway materials) because of its rubber components. Diesel spills will wreak havoc, but tarmac can still handle oil spills moderately, at least more than concrete.

Weed Problem

Weeds can find a comfortable breeding ground in the shaded areas of the tarmac. The risks will reduce if the tarmac driveway gets steady sunlight to dry out. However, you will probably have to use weed killers once in a while. Weed membranes and sealants also help. For optimal effect, seal your tarmac driveway six months after installation and then every 3-5 years.

Can You Install a Tarmac Driveway Yourself?

DIY-ing is a great way to save money. It can reduce tarmac driveway costs by 30% to 35%. However, we don’t recommend building a tarmac driveway yourself unless you have enough construction experience. Handling hot liquids like tarmac requires the right experience, gear and clothing.

Besides, driveway installation can actually be more complex than people think. For instance, how do you decide whether to resurface an existing driveway or start afresh? This question can only be answered by someone with good judgement and skill. Here is another example: How do you decide on the appropriate drainage system? Both no and poor drainage will wreck any driveway, causing cracks and weed infestations.

How to Pick a Professional for Tarmac Installation

Tarmac installation has a long history in this country, and there are relevant credentials, unions, and guilds. So, you can easily find tradespeople with the proper training and certification. It is best to hire contractors with a valid membership in the Mastic Asphalt Council.

Make sure your contractors also own the necessary machinery to install a tarmac driveway. If not, they might use equipment rental as an excuse to overcharge you. Obviously, this will increase tarmac driveway costs. Either way, it’s better to hire a contractor with a good reputation and relevant experience.


Tarmac driveways cost £60-£80 per square metre, depending on factors like size, tarmac material, additional tasks, your location and the condition of the current driveway. This doesn’t include VAT, but it does cover everything else.

Some contractors will include VAT in their tarmac driveway costs, while others won’t. It’s best to clear that up before hiring. So, ask for written quotes. If you decide to take the DIY approach to reduce tarmac driveway costs, ensure you have the right gear and experience.  


What is a Tarmac Driveway?

People often confuse tarmac with asphalt. Indeed, you will often hear individuals refer to them interchangeably. Although they look similar, there are significant differences between the two substances.

Tarmac is a natural tar-based material made by mixing natural tar with a layer of aggregate. Meanwhile, companies produce asphalt through the combination of aggregate with byproducts of petrol production.

How Long Does it Take to Install a Tarmac Driveway?

It takes 2-3 days to install a tarmac driveway. However, removing an existing driveway could add an extra day to the timeframe. On the other hand, driveway resurfacing can be completed within a day.

What Are Some Alternatives To Tarmac Driveways?

Other options include gravel, resin, pavers, asphalt and concrete. They all have advantages and disadvantages, with asphalt being highly identical to tarmac.

How Do You Know If You Need A New Driveway?

As your driveway gets older, you will notice more puddles on the surface every year. Puddles indicate poor drainage and unevenness. Tarmac driveways develop these issues with age and will continue to deteriorate. Therefore, if the puddles keep growing, it is time to repave your driveway.

Cracks also have distinct symptoms of a tarmac driveway that needs replacement. Small cracks are merely a cosmetic issue. Patch them because they will only get worse. However, large cracks indicate a structural issue. They indicate that you should repave the driveway.

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