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Here’s How Tarmac Compares to Other Driveway Materials

Tarmac, asphalt, call it what you will. Since its invention in the early 20th century, its popularity as the most used paving material in the world has remained unchallenged. Widely favoured for its easy installation, durability, and relative affordability compared to other driveway options, it is the quintessential driveway material.

But how does tarmac actually stack up against other driveway materials, such as concrete, gravel, or pavers? Is it really the overall best option when all elements are considered? We delve into these questions in this article, comparing tarmac with other driveway alternatives in terms of cost, maintenance, and environmental impact.

  • Cost

Tarmac is preferred by government and construction companies for major projects such as highways not because it’s the cheapest option but mainly because of its durability. But let’s leave out talk of the M6 for now. If you’re building a tarmac driveway in the UK, you can expect to spend in the range of £45 per square meter.

In comparison, the average cost of a concrete driveway is about £65 per square meter, while that of gravel is £15, and interlocking pavers is £90. Of course, these costs may vary depending on driveway size, terrain, quality of materials, and the local tarmac driveway installer you hire.

  • Maintenance

When choosing a driveway material, another factor to consider is maintenance requirements. Tarmac driveways may need periodic sealing to protect them from deterioration caused by water, ice, and heavy traffic. Other than that, tarmac requires just as much regular cleaning to remove dirt, oil, and stains.

Similar to tarmac, concrete driveways also require sealing every few years to prevent cracking and staining. However, they are more resistant to weather and traffic than tarmac driveways.

Gravel driveways are the easiest to employ and cheapest to maintain among driveway materials. But even though they do not require sealing or overt repairs, they do need raking and occasional replenishment with fresh gravel to keep them level and smooth.

Interlocking paver driveways are a whole other story. Because they are made of individual bricks and stones laid on a bed of sand, they can shift or sink over time due to soil movement or erosion. The only way to prevent this is by adding sand and levelling them every few years.

  • Environmental Impact

The last factor to consider when choosing a driveway material is its environmental impact. Comparably, tarmac driveways have the worst environmental impact of all because of their petroleum-based constituents emitting greenhouse gases during production and installation. Besides, tarmac driveways also lack permeability, preventing water from soaking into the ground and replenishing groundwater sources.

Similar to tarmac, concrete materials are impermeable. As such, they create runoff, polluting waterways and soil with chemicals and debris.

Gravel, on the other hand, has the lowest environmental impact, being made of natural materials that give off no greenhouse gas, limit soil erosion, and allow water percolation through their surfaces.

The environmental impact of pavers is not entirely clear-cut. Depending on whether they are made of natural or synthetic materials, they can pollute soil and waterways or limit runoff. While some concrete pavers are permeable, synthetic ones are almost always impervious.


As highlighted, there is no definitive answer to which driveway material is the best for your home. Each material, even when put against the formidable tarmac, has its own pros and cons in terms of cost, maintenance, and environmental impact. Before deciding on any, consult a professional contractor or landscaper who can advise you on the best option for your specific situation.

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