Tarmac vs Asphalt: Choosing the Best Driveway Surface For You

tarmac road surfacing by construction workers on a blog comparing tarmac vs asphalt as a surface option.

When it comes to surfacing solutions — whether it’s for a residential property or commercial purposes — there are a few different options you can go with. Two of the most common are tarmac and asphalt, but which is the best surface for you?

To the uninitiated, which is the majority of people, there may not appear to be too many differences between asphalt and tarmac. And although the two surfaces do have several similarities, they are notably dissimilar in many ways also.

Tarmac vs Asphalt: What’s the Difference?


Tarmac, which is short for tarmacadam, is a durable surface that consists of a coating of layered crushed stone with tar. A top coat is also added which will improve both grip and water resistance, as well as providing a more aesthetically pleasing finish. Also, with aesthetics in mind, we offer coloured tarmac driveways for anyone looking for a surfacing solution that will suit their home or surroundings.

Unfortunately, tarmac can be prone to damage from petrol or diesel spillages. So if you’re desperate to maintain a clean, stain-free surface you may want to consider asphalt. If you’re not overly bothered about aesthetics, for example, if you’re looking to resurface a car park — then tarmac is always a good solution.


People often get confused about precisely what asphalt is, which is mainly down to the fact that bitumen is known as ‘asphalt’ in America. Whereas in Britain, what we call asphalt shares a similar composition to tarmac. Asphalt also uses bitumen to bind together a combination of mineral aggregates. Asphalt is also beneficial in regards to sustainability when compared to other options. Any old or loose asphalt surfacing can be scraped away, recycled, and reused in surfacings again.  

Asphalt can be fairly cheap when it’s used over a larger area, therefore why it’s often used for roads, but for a smaller surface, it can be a more expensive option. Asphalt is also much harder wearing than tarmac, but it’s worth noting that it’s less resistant to scuffs from car tyres. With that said, asphalt is affected less by extreme weather than tarmac, and it also requires less maintenance over a longer period.

Features of Tarmac and Asphalt

Both asphalt and tarmac are widely used for roads, driveways, and pavements due to their durability, cost-effectiveness, longevity, and the ease at which experts can install both surfacing solutions.

  • Different aggregates can be used to achieve a variety of attributes such as improved tyre grip, smoother surfaces, as well as influence the colour of the surface once it is set.
  • Tarmac can be vulnerable to damage caused by petrol or diesel spills.
  • Asphalt is hard-wearing and less prone to cracking or weather-related damage.
  • Asphalt tends to be deemed as a more environmentally friendly solution due to the fact that it can be reclaimed and recycled for repairs or future use. 

As you can see, the tarmac vs asphalt debate is subjective and ultimately comes down to your personal requirements and what type of surface you’re looking to repair or create. It’s for this reason that your best bet is to speak to an expert who will be able to provide you with all the information you need and recommend a service that will suit your requirements.

Are you looking to improve a residential or commercial property and can’t decide between tarmac and asphalt? At Bestco Surfacing, we provide an exceptional level of service and high-quality surfacing solutions that suit a vast range of needs. If you live in Hertfordshire or the Home Counties, don’t hesitate to get in touch today on 01992 652 477 for a free no-obligation quote.


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