Last Updated on January 15, 2022
Tar Driveway Cost – UK Prices for 2022
Tarmac driveways can last more than 15 years if they’re properly taken care of. Tarmac is a durable and weather-resistant material that can withstand the hot summers and harsh winters we often see in the UK. Many people prefer the look of tarmac to gravel or concrete driveways.
How much money can you expect to spend on a new tarmac driveway? What are the factors that can affect tarmac driveway cost? This in-depth guide has all the answers.
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Table of Contents
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Average Tarmac Driveway Cost UK
The average cost of tarmacking a driveway is £2,000-£2,200, depending on how long the job takes. Most contractors should get the job done in 3-4 days.
How Much Does It Cost to Tarmac a Driveway?
For a new tarmac driveway, you can expect to pay in the region of £45-£65 per square metre (m²). The materials used, the size of your driveway, and competition amongst tradespeople in your local area will all determine whether your own tarmac driveway cost is on the higher or lower end of the scale. Your location also plays a part in price, and you should be prepared to pay more if you live in London or the South East.
If you have a larger driveway, you should be able to get a better deal on your new tarmac driveway, as contractors will reduce your cost per m². Weather factors may also affect tarmac driveways cost. For instance, if your driveway is installed in heavy rain, your contractor may reduce the cost, as rain can cool down the concrete too quickly and affect the end result.
Additionally, poor accessibility to your driveway may affect the price you’re quoted for a new tarmac surface. Any prep work required, such as the removal of existing block paving or obstructions, or creating an access point to enable labourers to get to your drive, will all come at an extra cost, too. The colour you choose for the tarmac surface will also affect price.
Prices For Tarmac Driveways
Using the average cost of £45-£65 per m², the exact price you pay for a tarmac driveway depends on your location and the job at hand.
A larger job will cost more overall, even though the driveway tarmac cost per square metre will likely be lower. This works both ways – a small drive will cost more to tarmac per m², as it’s less convenient to use smaller quantities. However, the job will be quicker to complete, and the labour cost will be lower.
Cost Per M²
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You can use the above table to get an estimate of how much you will pay to tarmac an existing driveway. However, keep in mind that the table should be used as a guideline only, as it can’t account for factors such as the cost of removing existing materials and tarmacking an irregularly shaped driveway. Costs will also be greatly reduced if you simply need to overlay an existing driveway.
The cost of tarmac driveway can also depend on the type of tarmac used. Cold-lay tarmac is more expensive, and is usually used for repairs. Generally, hot-mix tarmac is recommended for driveways, and costs about £45 per tonne on average (providing coverage for 8 m²).
Timescales and Labour Costs
As well as paying for the materials for a tarmac driveway, you will also need to pay for a contractor to do the work. It’s common to pay between £150 and £200 per day for a professional tarmac driveway contractor to work on your drive.
Most tradespeople won’t give you an upfront fixed quote, as it can be difficult to predict exactly how long the job will take. At a minimum, it will take at least 2 days to complete a small job, and up to 2 weeks for a big job.
To prevent delays (and extra costs on your part), make sure your driveway is always accessible to workers. You won’t be able to help the weather, but rain or snow can also significantly delay the process, which could incur more costs on your end.
Keep in mind that you’ll probably be paying the wages of more than one contractor. In most cases, you’ll have at least two people working on your drive at once, which will speed up the process, but will also increase cost. You should expect to pay around £300-£400 per day just in labour costs.
Additionally, the timeline of your tarmac driveway project will determine how much you pay. Let’s say your driveway is 10-20 m² in size. This will take between 1 and 2 days to complete. A larger driveway of 60-80 m² will take between 4 and 5 days to complete. In both of these cases, we’re assuming that weather conditions are good, and that no other jobs are required, like block paving edging or a dropped kerb installation.
Tarmac prices can vary, but the average cost for hot-mix tarmac is around £45-60 per tonne. It’s easy enough to get your hands on most materials yourself, though you may not get as good of a deal as a tradesperson with inside knowledge can.
You’ll find it easier to find cold lay tarmac, but this is most suitable for repair work, rather than for tarmacking your drive.
In any case, tarmac driveway prices for materials tend to decrease if you bulk-buy. So, if you need materials for a large tarmac driveway project, you can pay less per kilogram than you would for a small project.
Cold Lay Tarmac
Hot-mix tarmac is best-suited for tarmacking a new driveway – and it’s also more affordable than cold-lay tarmac. However, hot-mix tarmac requires specialist transport, and you’ll struggle to find it in high street stores. It is usually sold by the tonne, and will need to be delivered in a suitable vehicle.
Let’s say you have a 15 m² drive. You’ll need 2 tonnes of tarmac, which will cost around £90. There’s also a delivery cost to factor in. This could add an extra £50-£100 to your overall cost. You’d then have to think about how to safely store the tarmac before use. It’s easy to see why it is often cheaper to pay for a contractor to bring their own supplies and materials.
Exterior Property Painting
UPVC Front Door
Single Car Port
£20-£30 per hour
The table above highlights some of the additional costs you may want, or need, to pay for your new tarmac driveway. If you’re looking to refresh the entire area in front of your home, you can use this table to see how much some of the more popular extras will cost.
If you want your new driveway to look its very best, you may consider paying for driveway cleaning, too. The cost of a professional driveway clean depends on several factors, including the size and condition of the driveway, and your location.
Another popular accompaniment to a tarmac driveway is a dropped kerb. It can cost between £600 and £1,000 for this feature, but price can vary significantly depending on your local authority. A representative will need to visit your home and view the area where you’d like the dropped kerb to be installed. You may be able to get a dropped kerb installed for free, or for much cheaper.
Factors That Can Affect Tarmac Driveway Costs
The reason why it is so difficult to put a price on a tarmac drive is that there are so many factors that can affect cost. The size and shape of the driveway surface, the driveway materials required, accessibility, and other tailored options can affect the price of a tarmac drive in the UK.
The larger the surface area, the higher your driveway tarmac cost. It’ll take longer for contractors to complete a double driveway compared to a single driveway, for example. The benefit of large projects, however, is that material costs tend to be lower.
For example, if your driveway is 10 m² in size, it will cost £60 per m², on average, and take up to 2 days to complete. Two contractors may cost up to £200 per day each on your project.
If your driveway is 40 m² in size, the cost of tarmac will be less – around £50 per m². However, it will take longer to complete the project, so you’ll end up paying more in labour costs for the extra work.
There’s a lot to think about when you’re considering getting a tarmac driveway installed, and accessibility is a factor that is often forgotten.
If your driveway has the potential to cross over onto a grass verge or footpath, you may have an issue (and not just with planning permission). Contractors may need permission to work on your driveway if, for instance, a public footpath crosses the area.
If you think your tarmac driveway project may pose an accessibility issue, contact your local authority. They may refer you to the Highways Agency with your request.
If you have a perfectly square-shaped driveway, count yourself lucky. It can be much more difficult to apply edging to unusually-shaped driveways, which can result in extra labour for your driveway contractor.
Edging is needed to prevent tarmac from moving or cracking as it sets. In the long term, edging also provides an aesthetic quality. Concrete and timber are commonly used for this purpose, although blocked paving is also an option. Concrete costs around £20-£60 per m², while blocked paving can cost up to £100 per m². If you have an awkward-shaped drive, you probably won’t need to pay any more for these materials – but your contractor will need to spend more time cutting them to size.
Coloured Driveway Tarmac
If you’re considering colouring your driveway tarmac, this will add onto the mixing process. You can’t buy coloured tarmac as it is. Instead, you will need to pay more for labourers to add dye to your tarmac mix.
The most common colour for tarmac is red. You can also get blue, grey and green, or custom colours on request.
You can expect to pay at least £10-£20 more per square metre of red tarmac.
Alternatively, you can dye your driveway surface after it has been laid using a coloured sealant. This can be a more cost-effective solution, with most sealants costing around £70 per 10 litres.
Drainage System Cost
Laying a tarmac driveway requires a good drainage setup. There needs to be a means of diverting water away from your home without simply sending it onto the street. Keep in mind that planning permission is required for scenarios where there’s no choice but to send excess water into a public space.
The costs of drainage may involve sloping the driveway or creating a channel to send the water into a drain. The average price of a new channel or soakaway is £1,000-£1,400, not including labour costs. Creating a slope with a stone-sub base can cost up to £36 per tonne.
The Processes Involved in tarmacking a Driveway
It can be difficult to understand exactly why tarmac driveways cost as much as they do, if you’re not aware of just how many steps are involved in this process.
This section will look at how a tarmac driveway is installed from start to finish, assuming that excavation is required. If you’re just adding another layer of tarmac to an existing driveway, your total cost will be lower, as some of these processes won’t apply to you.
Step 1: Excavation
The first step involved in installing a tarmac driveway is excavation. In this stage, contractors will dig the ground to approximately 175 millimeters below the planned paving level.
It’s common for tradespeople to use diggers to remove the top layer, as excavation can be hard, time-consuming work when completed manually. Your contractor will include vehicle price in their overall cost, but as an indication, a mini digger can cost between £100 and £150 for a week.
Step 2: Laying the Membrane
Membranes are required to prevent stone sub-bases from moving, which will cause the tarmac above to shift and lose stability. A membrane prevents weeds from growing, while still allowing rainwater to permeate into the soil below.
Membranes are considered essential in the tarmac driveway laying process, but they can be quite expensive, costing £38 per square metre.
Step 3: Installing Drainage
In an ideal scenario, your contractor will be able to connect your drainage to an existing system, eliminating the labour and extra costs involved in fabricating a drainage solution specifically for your tarmac driveway.
However, this may not always be possible, and drainage is an unavoidable aspect of laying a tar driveway, as it sends water away from your property and the surrounding public area.
If installing a new soakaway is involved in installing a tarmac surface, this will add between £500 and £1,000 onto the total cost, as well as the cost of a day’s labour.
Step 4: Installing the Stone Sub-Base
Next, crushed stone or crushed gravel will need to be poured into the area prepared for your driveway. Usually, this will be filled to a depth of up to 100 millimetres.
Once the stone sub-base is laid, your contractor will use tools or heavy machinery to compact the surface, before leveling it out in preparation for the first tarmac layer.
Step 5: Lowering the Kerb
If you want to lower a kerb for your driveway and plan to do this at the same time as installing a tarmac drive, you will need to contact your local authority and arrange for an inspection of the location.
While occasionally, your local authority may offer to lower the kerb for free, it’s more common to have to pay the full price – usually £1,000 – plus an extra £50-£350 if you have to apply for planning permission.
Most contractors will be happy to complete dropped kerb work for you, and this will factor into the cost of labour.
Step 6: Edging
The edging process is required to structure your new driveway. With edging in place, the tarmac won’t crack or move, even when holding the weight of heavy vehicles.
Your contractor will use a cement and sand bond to place edging approximately 75 millimeters beneath the base. Block paving, concrete and timber may all be used in driveway edging.
As a recap, it costs up to £60 per square metre to install a cheaper concrete block, while higher-end block paving may cost up to £100 per square metre.
Step 7: First Layering
The first layer of tarmac is known as the binding course. This rough aggregate is laid and spread with a rake, before being compressed with a plate compactor or roller.
Step 8: Second Layering
The second layer of tarmac is laid almost immediately after laying the binding course, and is intended to give a finer finish. A plate compactor or similar machinery is used to level the surface.
Step 9: Finishing Touches
Finally, a hose is used to spray the surface with water, which accelerates the tarmac hardening process and cools the material. You should ideally let the tarmac settle for around 7 days before walking or parking vehicles on it. If this isn’t possible, you should at least make sure the surface is left untouched for a minimum of 24 hours.
At this point, your driveway contractor can install additional requested features, like fencing or a new set of gates. Driveway gates prices largely depend on the material used for the gates and the size of the gates required.
To reiterate, this lengthy process is required if you’re tarmacking a new driveway, and not adding another coating to an existing surface, which will be significantly cheaper. A job that doesn’t require excavation will also be much cheaper and quicker to finish, taking a day or two from start to finish.
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What Is Tarmac?
Tarmac is used to refer to the material that tarmacs a drive, and is short for tarmacadam.
To make tarmac, broken stones are packed closely together and mixed with cement or bitumen, before being finished with a finer layer of stones.
Tarmac was invented by an engineer named Edgar Purnell Hooley. He combined cement, natural tar and aggregate and called it tarmac. It is still known as tarmac today, even though today’s tarmac doesn’t usually include tar.
Do I Need to Pay For a Tarmac Driveway Installer, Or Can I Do It Myself?
It’s strongly advised that you leave the job of tarmacking a driveway to the experts, and don’t try to do it yourself. Professional driveway installers have the complex tools and machinery required to properly lay your new driveway. They can also get better deals on materials.
If you choose to tarmac your drive yourself, you’ll need to hire out specialist equipment, which can cost more than paying an expert for the whole job, with the cost of equipment included. Tarmac is also a dangerous material that can get incredibly hot, posing a potential health hazard.
Aside From Tarmac, What Are Some Other Popular Driveway Surfaces?
Gravel, pavers, asphalt, shell, and turf (grass) are all popular surfaces for driveways.
Depending on the size of the driveway in question, some of these popular surfaces can be much more expensive to source and install than tarmac. Gravel driveway cost can vary significantly, depending on the type of stones you prefer. Resin-bound gravel is particularly expensive, and the cost of resin driveway can reach £70 per square metre.
Can You Lay Tarmac Over Existing Tarmac?
Yes. Whether you need to resurface a worn drive or extend the existing driveway for more cars, you can lay tarmac over existing tarmac. The resurface tarmac driveway cost is cheaper than installing a brand-new driveway, too. Unless there is a reason that the existing tarmac should be removed completely, most driveway installers will recommend this option to you.
What’s Cheaper: Installing a Concrete or Asphalt Driveway?
The average asphalt driveway cost is slightly higher than a concrete driveway. You get virtually the same results with both materials, but asphalt tends to be more weather resistant, making the extra cost worth it.
Is it safe to Recycle Tarmac?
Yes. Tarmac can be recycled, making it an environmentally friendly choice for your driveway. Asphalt can also be melted and recycled in part.
Which is Best: Tarmac or Concrete?
Concrete was the original go-to material for paving roads and driveways, being durable and weather-resistant. However, tarmac tends to be the most popular choice today.
While there are benefits of using concrete, a setback is that this material is more prone to splitting and breaking, especially if it isn’t laid on a smooth, flat surface.
Tarmac, like concrete, is hard and durable. However, what makes this material the more popular choice is that it isn’t quite so inflexible, and is less likely to crack if laid on underlying surfaces with imperfections.
Can I Lay Tarmac On A Steep Driveway?
Tarmac can be laid on surfaces with an incline – after all, tarmac roads aren’t always flat. However, it can be a challenge for contractors to lay tarmac on a steep drive. You should expect to pay more for tarmacking a steep driveway, and you’ll probably find fewer tradespeople who are willing to take on the job.
What Maintenance Is Required For a Tarmac Driveway?
Most professionals will advise applying a sealant to your tarmac driveway to keep it fresh and clean, preventing damage to the surface. A sealant should typically be applied after a year.
In the UK, it’s rare for the weather to get hot enough to damage tarmac driveways. However, it’s worth being careful on hot days to distribute weight evenly and drive slowly as a precaution.
Other than these two points, there isn’t any ongoing maintenance that you need to commit to as the owner of a tarmac driveway.
The cost of tarmacking a drive depends on the length of the process, and often, the care and attention that goes into the job. Be wary of paying significantly less money for a new tarmac driveway than advised in this guide. If your quoted driveway resurfacing cost seems too good to be true, it probably is. You may end up with cheap materials, poor workmanship, and an unsatisfactory end result.
Although the price of tarmac resurfacing can be expensive, having an attractive, durable driveway that requires no maintenance for at least 10 years makes this a worthy investment for most people.
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