What Are The Differences Between Tarmac And Asphalt?

Many road users don’t often take a second thought when thinking about what surface are they driving on, after all, as long as the surface is smooth, complete and level, nothing else really matters. However, the material used to surface the road is pretty important, as this can influence the driving style, road quality and much more. 

That being said, two key primary materials are used for most road surfaces which are tarmac and asphalt – but what are the key differences between the two? 

What is tarmac?

Often abbreviated for tarmacadam, tarmac is one of the most known surface solutions due to its strength and long-lasting characteristics that make it ideal for road surfaces. The typical process to surface tarmac involved coating a layer of crushed stone with tar, which is then rolled down to produce the smooth and sleek surface layer which we see afterwards.

What is asphalt?

As mentioned, asphalt is also a very popular option for surfaces, more so for big areas where large amounts of asphalt are required. The most known method to create asphalt is through mixing asphaltic cement with either sand or grit, creating the material which is then laid onto the road surfaced and prepared to be used.  

Differences that are worth looking at

  • Uses

Tarmac is now considered as a very old solution for surfacing, which is why its uses are becoming reduced each year. Previously it was the main material used for road surfaces, though due to the research and development, it’s now typically used for smaller or single surface requirements such as driveways or pavements. 

Asphalt, on the other hand, has now become the primary material used for road surfaces thanks to its durability and strength, but also due to its costs which will be explained next. Due to these same characteristics, a few other most notable uses include airport runways, pavements and racetracks. 

  • Costs

The project size can influence a wealth on the overall costs of using either tarmac and asphalt. As mentioned above, asphalt can be classed as expensive for smaller jobs such as driveways, primarily due to the costly set-up process. As a result, a good recommendation to keep in mind if using asphalt for residential driveways is to encourage a few neighbours to also resurface their driveway at the same time, as this may end up reducing overall costs considerably. Tarmac is similar, where the price will also be a little more expensive for smaller projects, but this is nowhere near the price of asphalt projects.

  • Durability

There is no denying that both materials are very durable and strong, after all, they are used as surfaces for roads amongst other requirements, but each composite has its differences. One of the notable issues with tarmac is the fact it can be prone to damage from both petrol and diesel spills, primarily due to the substances within tar which are very vulnerable to such liquids. 

In terms of strength, asphalt is often recognised as the stronger material primarily because it’s less prone to cracks, but also far more resistant to weather-related damage. Not only that, but asphalt required far less maintenance, which is a key factor for many homeowners. 

  • Environmental factor

Finally, both tarmac and asphalt surfaces differentiate when it comes to environmental factors. The most notable difference is the fact that asphalt, unlike tarmac, can be reclaimed for repairs and future use. 

Do you require surfacing services?

For those that are keen on resurfacing their driveway to the latest material on offer, then we suggest heading over to Bestco Surfacing website when you have the chance. With over 40 years of experience, the team at Bestco Surfacing have gained a glowing reputation thanks to our exceptional results and first-class customer service. 

Interested in finding out how much your project may cost? Don’t leave it any longer to get in touch, email info@bestcosurfacing.co.uk with your project requirements and contact details, where one of our colleagues can be in touch shortly after with an estimated price. For general enquiries, we recommend calling 01992 652 477, where you will have the opportunity to speak to one of our experts who will be happy to confer about your project. 


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