Macadam Driveway – Cost, Maintenance, Pros and Cons.


Many property owners prefer to have macadam driveway installed for their residential and commercial properties since it is economical and offers a smooth, sturdy, and esthetically pleasing surface for all types of automobile traffic. 

It is a common fact that surfaces laid with this paving material are usually hard-wearing, smooth and will enhance the appearance of your property exterior. Since macadam is skid resistant, like asphalt, it guarantees the safety of vehicles plying on it, particularly, during the winter. 

But what is a macadam driveway?

Macadam driveway, also referred to as chip and seal, tar and chip, and oil and stone, is a type of road construction where single-sized crushed stone strata of small angular stones are put in skin-deep lifts and compressed extensively. The compaction may result in the formation of a binding coating of stone dust (source material crushed stone) and may also be coated with a binder after rolling to bind stone and dust together then compressing the stones into the sticky material to create a firm, lifelong surface.

A macadam pavement, unlike asphalt, requires less upkeep as it does not need to be sealed every year.

Although the macadam construction method has mostly been supplanted by asphalt and concrete on public roadways, lots of homeowners still yearn for the unique smoothness and esthetic of macadam. This type of driveway surface is praised for its esthetics, minimal maintenance needs, and cost: it is somewhat less expensive to install than asphalt.

The worker was busy installing the macadam driveway.

How much does a macadam driveway cost?

Although installing a driveway, using macadam is generally inexpensive to build, several variables may increase the cost to a substantial amount of dollars. One common factor here is municipal regulation; since a driveway links to a public roadway, there may be local laws limiting the width of the driveway and the materials used to construct it. A permit is usually required, and the prices can range from minimal to expensive, depending on the region.

Notwithstanding, resurfacing an existing driveway with macadam can cost about $600 to $1,800 for a 12’x50′ (single-car driveway), or $1 to $3 or more per square foot; and laying a new driveway (particularly with a gravel foundation) can take up to $1,200 to $2,400 for a 12’x50′ (600 square feet), or $2 to $4 or more per square foot. However, the amount of work required to create the base, as well as the quality and quantity of stone utilized in the top layer, can drive up costs.

It is also worth mentioning that driveway contractors don’t usually charge by the square foot; instead, they offer a total price for a given project, and large projects may qualify for discounts.

How hard is it to maintain a macadam driveway?

Maintaining a macadam pavement is not difficult. It conceals oil spills better than asphalt and concrete driveways, and it’s beautiful finish lasts even if it is not treated on a regular basis.

Furthermore, a macadam pavement does not need frequent seal coating, which is often performed every two or three years on asphalt driveways. The only work you’d have to perform would be to repair or replace macadam that have been dislodged from the asphalt.

The worker clean the driveway using pressure washers

Related Articles:

What are the pros and cons of a macadam driveway?

Driveway built with macadam material comes with some advantages and disadvantages; however, your choice of opting for this surfacing material is dependent on how you weigh its pros and cons. The below advantages and drawbacks of this driveway type will help guide your decision for your next paving project:


  • Maintenance and repair: Macadam driveway requires minimal maintenance. It does not require to be sealed as often as asphalt, and even tiny cracks tend to mend on their own. Notwithstanding, you may refresh the surface every 10 years or so by applying extra loose stone and hot bitumen.

    In addition, care should be taken when using a snow plow to remove snow from this pavement surface since the pressure from snow plows can scratch the rough surface of macadam pavement. So, if you’re going to use a plow, keep the blade just above the surface; otherwise, use a snow blower or shovel as a best alternative.
  • Ease of installation: One of the most appealing advantages of a macadam driveway is how easy it is to install. The gravel base is the first step in the procedure. Following that, heated liquid asphalt is poured over the gravel then loose stone chips are put over the liquid asphalt and compacted.

A macadam pavement, like a tarmac driveway, can be constructed in a single day and you may walk on it right away after installation. However, it is recommended that you wait at least three days before driving or parking on your new macadam paved driveway.

  • Design choices: This sort of paving material comes with a variety of design options. The color of a macadam pavement is determined by the top layer of loose stones, and there are many distinct colors to select from. Certainly, you can use this sort of material to construct a one-of-a-kind and visually stunning driveway.
  • Comfort and convenience: Macadam driveway is a fantastic choice if you desire a slip-resistant surface. Its rough surface improves grip and reduces the danger of slip-and-fall incidents, notably when the surface is covered with snow or wet.
  • Cost-effective: Compared to concrete and asphalt driveways, this type of driveway is less expensive. It’s a good option if you have a lengthy driveway since it’s affordable.


The main disadvantage of installing a macadam driveway is that not many driveway paving companies provide this service.  Besides, a driveway paved with macadam has a short lifespan; whereas concrete driveways may last up to 40 to 50 years with little repair needs, a driveway built with macadam will only last for 10 to 15 years at most. Furthermore, since this type of driveway surface is rough, removing snow off it might be difficult.

A simple house with clean and wide macadam driveway.

More like this:

Is a Macadam driveway right for you?

If you’re looking for a casual paving material that’s also affordable, macadam could be the ideal option for you. Notwithstanding, some cities and suburbs may have regulations or agreements prohibiting the use of this informal material for all roadway construction; hence, it is advised you check with your local regulations.


If you want to keep your budget modest and want an easy-to-build driveway, a macadam driveway is your best bet. Although it may have a limited lifespan than a concrete road; however, given the expense of installation and maintenance, it is definitely a cost-effective alternative for all homeowners. Therefore, if you are considering having this type of driveway installed for your residence or commercial settings, think of it as a very good choice!

Tim Dawson's Avatar

About the Author: Chris Hawk

Chris is a paver with more than 15 years' expertise in the field. He has established a reputation as an expert and trustworthy specialist with a track record of providing his clients with top-notch paving solutions.