Tarmac vs Asphalt

Tarmac vs asphalt is a popular discussion amongst homeowners. Tarmac comprises crushed stones and gravel bonded by tar, while asphalt driveways are made with aggregate and bitumen as a binder. The tar in the tarmacadam has been replaced with bitumen to make an asphalt driveway. 

Even though asphalt offers a smooth surface, it’s very resistant to harsh weather conditions, which helps increase tire grips and serves as an option for roads, driveways, and pavement. Still, it requires higher maintenance costs compared to tarmac. Tarmac is less expensive when dealing with a small land mass and it can last three to five years with very low maintenance costs. 

While many engineers claim over 94% of United States roads are asphalt, your choice for your driveway depends on installation cost, durability, and maintenance cost. To make the best choice, you will need a material that will not get damaged or crack under pressure. 

Tarmac vs. Asphalt, choosing between the two can be very tricky, and if you’re not sure which one works best for your convenience or fits your budget, this article will help you understand the difference and figure out the best for your driveway.

What is tarmac?

John Loudon McAdam is the first road builder to introduce macadamization, an effective and economical road construction method. However, another businessman, Edger Purnell Hooley, added a layer that brought about tarmac for driveways. Tarmac is a material used for paving; it consists of crushed stones and sand held together by a binding material known as tar.

What is tarmac used for? 

  • Tarmac is used for making car roads, airport runways, parking lots, driveways, motorways, caravan parks, and private roads. When a layer of crushed stone is mixed with tar and compacted with a migrating roller, it will form a smooth surface.
Dofferences between tarmac and asphalt

What is asphalt?

Asphalt is a paving material from a mixture of aggregates (sand, gravel, slags, waste or debris, or crushed rocks), binders, and fillers. Most builders use bitumen as a binder to put the aggregate together. Note that the asphalt mixture must be cohesive and resistant to withstand pressure and deformation. Asphalt mixtures are produced at different temperatures; Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA), Warm Mix Asphalt (WMA), and Cold Mix Asphalt (CMA). 

What is asphalt used for? 

Asphalt is used to construct and repair roads, railway tracks, airport runways, sidewalks, bicycle lanes, and driveways. The asphalt used to maintain our driveways and roads is produced in an asphalt plant. 

Tarmac vs. Asphalt – Differences

Because tarmac and asphalt are widely used surface materials for driveways and have many similarities, it’s easy to mistake them for the same thing. However, there are a few noticeable differences between the two surface materials and factors you must consider before deciding which surface material to install on your driveway. 

If you want to make the best choice for your driveway, we have made your work easier. We have carefully highlighted the difference between tarmac and asphalt below. 

  • Tarmac is a mixture made from crushed stones and tars, while asphalt comprises aggregates and bitumen, which binds the aggregate together.
  • When you want to pave a large surface, asphalt is the cheapest choice and is commonly used for driveways, road surfaces, and pavement, while tarmac is the cheapest when you want to pave a long surface. 
  • Tarmac is resistant to constant scuffing by car tires.
  • Compared to tarmac, asphalt needs less maintenance and is not easily prone to oil and gas damage. But once it needs repair, the maintenance cost is higher than what it takes to preserve a tarmac driveway.
  • Because tarmac is made from a mixture of crushed stone, they are not as smooth as asphalt. Asphalt has a smoother surface and better finishing; it provides a better grip and helps protect your vehicle’s tires.
  • Asphalt is more resistant to extreme weather conditions compared to tarmacadam. 
  • Tarmac is not reusable, whereas asphalt can be scrapped, reprocessed, and used again. 
  • The binding agent in making asphalt is bitumen, whereas tar is used to crush stones together to form tarmacadam. 
  • The tar used in Tarmac is different from the bitumen used in Asphalt. Tar is produced from coal, while bitumen is produced from crude oil. 

Similarities between tarmac and asphalt.

Tarmac and asphalt have plenty of similarities that make it difficult to tell which is more suitable for you to use on your drive away. When you finally decide to pave your driveway and are unsure what to choose, you must remember that they both have the following similarities. 

  • Both asphalt and tarmac can withstand pressure from heavy vehicles. 
  • Both paving solutions require a binder to put the aggregates together. 
  • Tarmac and asphalt are used for roads, driveways, and surface pavements.
  • Both paving materials are durable and easy to install. 
  • They both involve aggregates like stones and fillers.
The cost of asphalt and tarmac driveways

Tarmac vs. asphalt cost

Depending on the size of your driveway, you can expect to spend more when using asphalt. The tarmac is cheaper than asphalt, an average of $3 to $4 per square foot. You should expect to pay $71.84 to $123.13 per square meter for a tarmac driveway, depending on your location, workload, and laborer. 

Pros of a Tarmac Driveway

Tarmac is a black material held together by tar. It’s usually used for building roads and airports. Because of its tarmac appearance, it’s mostly confused with asphalt—many people struggle to decide which surface material to use for their road or driveway pavements. Compared to an asphalt driveway, the pros and cons of a tarmac driveway will help you make the right decision.

1. Easy Installation

One of the reasons why many property owners go for Tarmac driveways is because it is easy to install. The installation of a large driveway can be done within a day, and after three days, your driveway is ready to be used. 

2. Tarmacadam is durable and reliable

When laid properly, you don’t have to worry about how long your driveway pavement will last. Tarmac driveways are durable, smooth, and easy to repair.

3. Tarmac driveway is affordable 

Tarmac driveways are common among homeowners because they are affordable, and driveway pavers charge less to install. 

Tarmacadam Driveway Cons. 

1. UV light causes tarmac degradation 

Under ultraviolet light, the bitumen used can crack and break up. Tarmac degradation results in cracks and potholes that easily destroy your exhaust system or vehicles.

2. Growth of plants and algae

Tarmacadam is not resistant to cracks caused by weeds, moss, and algae growth. These organisms make the surface look ugly, and sometimes, it might form a slippery surface. Most contractors try to apply a weed membrane to protect your driveway. This doesn’t always work and construct. A thicker tarmac driveway has proven to be more effective. 

3. Oils, petrol, and other substance can harm tarmac driveway

Tarmac is petrol-based, and it dissolves when exposed. When oil, petrol, or other substances seep into your tarmac driveway, they can penetrate the pavement and reduce the strength of the binding substance used. When these substances penetrate, they will eventually degrade the tarmac and cause damage to your driveway. 

4. Laying tarmac is expensive

Because a skilled person is needed to lay tarmac pavement, the price can be a bit high. Also, laying a bitmac requires expensive machinery. 

Tarmac vs Asphalt: differences for driveways

Pros of an Asphalt Driveway.

1. The surface is smooth and easy to drive on

Asphalt makes it idle for driving because it is smooth and quiet. Asphalt smooth surfaces can also withstand pressure without easily cracking.

2. It is inexpensive

Asphalt is the cheapest option if you want to pave a large area. It’s also reusable when you decide to renew your driveway payment. The recycled asphalt is just as good and durable as new asphalt. 

3. It is eco-friendly

Because asphalt can be recycled and reused, the machinery used for production also has low emissions – asphalt doesn’t emit gasses or other harmful products once installed. 

4. Asphalt pavement is simple, aesthetic, and easy to maintain

Asphalt parking lots are easy to maintain, cost-effective, and simple. The black color makes it combine with home aesthetics effortlessly. When you install your asphalt pavement, it can last up to twenty years. 

Cons of Asphalt Driveways

1. It takes a longer time to cure

Unlike Tarmac driveways, it takes time for your asphalt driveway to lay and completely set in. Although you can still use it, it is prone to damage in this period. 

2. Asphalt driveway releases tar-like substance and oil 

When asphalt driveways are not sealed, they release tar-like substances and oils from their surface and are easily tracked to your houses. These substances are difficult to clean off from objects or homes. 

3. Asphalt driveways can be dull

The black surfaces give no room for creativity or change. Some home or property owners can find it dull.

4. Your asphalt pavement needs regular maintenance

Driveways or parking lots made with asphalt need to be maintained regularly. A draining system needs to be created to avoid standing water. Also, asphalt pavement needs sealing after one or two years to protect it from cracks and potholes. 

Conclusion: Tarmac Vs Asphalt

Tarmacadam is hardly used to pave driveways, and that’s because asphalt has won the heart of many homeowners. The ease it brings, its simplicity, and its ability to withstand extreme weather make it stand out. Also, many people prefer asphalt to tarmac because it can stress without cracking or forming potholes.