The Quick answer
Tarmac comes in different sizes and strengths. In general, the structure of it is solid and built to last between 10-20 years. This being said, it may require re-surfacing if it begins to wear due to weather damage and usage. The price of re-surfacing is obviously considerably less than than the original installation, however it is still an expense that you should consider when choosing your paving solution.
things to consider
A tarmac driveway will only ever be as strong as what is installed underneath it. If your contractor has used recycled MOT then there will most likely be issues caused by the eroding of materials within the recycled product, which will lead to voids beneath the surface. Another common cause of structural issues is a lack of sub-base material being used. You must make sure that the contractor you’re using is trustworthy and capable of carrying out the installation to the correct specifications (industry standards) without supervision. Click here to connect with your local ‘Driveway Hub’ accredited installer.
Tarmacadam is made up of a base layer (binder course) and a topping layer (wearing course). The required depth in total is normally between 80-100mm, with the depth of the base layer being around 50-70mm and the topping around 25-30mm. If the tarmacadam is installed too thin, it will not take the weight of vehicle traffic and will eventually crack.
Tarmacadam is often cheaper than block paving and resin bound, costing around the same as pattern imprinted concrete and slightly more than gravel. If you’re considering using a coloured tarmacadam such as buff, terracota or blue, the cost of these will be considerably more than black. Costs will also increase if you choose to have a decorative edging framing the tarmac. This is often consuming and more expensive than using the existing edges and installing pin kerbs where necessary.
If you’re looking for a cheap solution to improve the external appearance of your house then tarmac might be a good option for you. As stated before, you will start to see wearing and colour fading as time goes and it will need re-surfacing eventually. Tarmacadam is expected to last around 10-20 years when maintained correctly, but maintenance is key to achieve this life span.
Tarmac is well known for being resistant to harsh weather conditions, but can become damaged by frost in the long run. Frost can cause cracking within the surface. Oil, diesel, petrol and paint thinners (along with other liquids) are well known to cause detrimental damage to tarmac. Oil stains are the most frequent issue for owners who have a tarmac surface as this leads to structural damage, causing pot holes and often crumbling.
As mentioned before you must choose your contractor wisely. We have vetted and approved contractors across the country offering fair prices and quality workmanship. It can often be tempting to go with the cheapest option however, more often than not, this will lead to issues down the line. Another mistake we often see is homeowners choosing to go down the route of the biggest and most known companies even though they are the most expensive. Higher prices usually means more overheads (showrooms and office staff). These larger companies often turn to subcontractors to complete installations on their behalf meaning you don’t actually know who is going to be installing your driveway!
Pros and ConsPROS:
- Stylish finish when first installed
- Low maintenance
- Cheaper than block paving and resin bound
- Choice of colours
- Can fade quite quickly and needs re-coating to restore the colour
- Impermeable so requires extra drainage
- Prone to wear and tear marks
For the first 2-3 years, tarmacadam should be cleaned off occasionally, carefully using a jet wash. As the surface begins to fade due to wear and tear and UV rays, it will start to turn grey. This is the stage where re-coating is necessary and will need to be done every couple of years to maintain the black appearance. There are plenty of products fit for resurfacing tarmac, we have found that ‘Blackjack Surface Technology’ products work very well, as well as ‘Smartseal tarmac restorer’.
Other than cleaning and occasionally resealing the surface, there’s not much more to it. If you start to notice hairline cracks and areas crumbling, this could be a sign that the wearing course is failing. At this stage, you should get a professional to come and take a look, it may be that it requires the wearing course chipping out and a new one installing.