The Cost to Tarmac a Driveway

All you need to know about the associated costs of tarmacing a driveway including materials, labour and time frames.

Tarmac Cost

What the job entails

This article is intended as a guide to tarmac driveway costs and prices. We have gathered quotes from driveway specialists from all over the UK and averaged out the prices for typical tarmac driveway jobs. Though it is worth noting that tarmac is produced from by-products of the oil industry, so the cost of tarmac fluctuates based on current oil prices, which at the time of writing are at almost their lowest recorded levels ever! So bear that in mind, as tarmac prices may not be this low in the future. Tarmac is short for tarmacadam and nothing to do with the company "Tarmac".

The job itself typically involves removing the existing driveway and excavating the base, putting a membrane down to prevent weed growth, laying edgings onto sand/cement mix and drainage connecting into existing pipework, putting down sub base/ then first tarmac binding course, then second tarmac surface course, which is then compacted with a roller for a neat finish.

For all the prices provided we have assumed fairly simple driveways of average size and dimensions. You will find that it will typically cost more per square metre for very small drives as contractors prefer larger jobs, small jobs are not profitable for them if charged at the same per square metre rate as larger projects. Other factors which can affect the price are irregular shaped driveways, poor access to the site, unusual slopes and the requirement for a new soakaway to meet surface drainage regulations. Coloured tarmac (anything other than black) also costs considerably more.

The weather can affect installation too, tarmac drives can be installed in the rain, but if the rain is excessive it is advisable that the work is suspended as heavy rain can cool the material down too quickly and can also leave standing water. Once the drive is installed it will be ready to accept vehicles driving and parking on it after a few days to give the surface a chance to harden and cool. Different coloured tarmac products are available but these are specialist products and very expensive, most commonly used only on small areas.

Weeds are a natural process that cannot be fully prevented no matter what you do. They like to break through surfaces, especially near lawn or plant bed areas, the best way to try to prevent them is treat the area of the proposed driveway regularly with weed killer for at least a full week before the driveway is to be installed. This will give the driveway a fighting chance against the weeds.

After the driveway is done, if weeds eventually penetrate the surface, then use a water based weed killer to kill the weeds and when they have died off you can carefully remove the remaining foliage. You should then consider patching the tarmac in the area where the weeds have broken through. Do not just try and pull weeds out though the tarmac, sometimes a small weed poking through can have large roots attached, attempting to pull this out can actually further damage the tarmac surface.

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Costs & Prices of Having your Driveway Tarmacked

The average cost to tarmac a 2-car driveway is typically around £2000. To overlay existing tarmac or to retarmac the average cost will be around £700 due to no excavation costs. The average price can vary greatly depending on location, size of the area to be excavated and tarmacked, and labour costs.

A driveway specialist will often charge in the region of £100 to £150 per day and will likely work in pairs or groups to tarmac a driveway. As such you should usually expect around £250-£400 per day in total labour costs, however this does help get the job done quicker.

Below are some estimated costs of hiring a driveway expert to tarmac a driveway:

Driveway Size Description Avg. Cost Duration
Small (20 sq m) Space for 1 car £1400 2-3 days
Medium (40 sq m) Space for 2 cars £2000 3-4 days
Medium (40 sq m) Just Overlay Existing Tarmac £700 1 day
Large (80 sq m) Space for 3-4 cars £2500 4-5 days

Cost Breakdown

Individual costs of laying tarmac for a medium-sized driveway - Total Cost: £2000






Waste Removal


The total time required for an average driveway is around 3 days. But it is really difficult to give time estimates as so much depends on how many workers are involved, how big the drive is to be and the proposed shape, plus whether there are any tree roots or similar which slow down the excavation.

As a general rule of thumb, a small simple 30 square metre rectangular driveway should take a couple of days for excavating, edgings and drainage, then a third day for tarmacking and finishing off. The actual laying of tarmac is pretty quick, in fact it has to be done quickly to prevent the tarmac cooling down too much.
Tarmac paint is another term used to describe a sealer for tarmac to help prevent long term damage and ensure the surface continues to look good. Tarmac driveways will deteriorate over time due to chemical spills such as oil, anti-freeze and fuel. These chemicals will degrade and the top surface and the tarmac will start to crack. Tarmac paint can prevent the damage getting to a point where the tarmac starts to break down altogether. Stopping any deterioration before water has chance to enter the tarmac and cause even more serious damage.
Assuming the same 30 square metre rectangular driveway above, expect to pay around £1700. However, if a simple overlay onto an existing tarmac driveway which is in reasonable condition. This saves a lot of excavation work so is much cheaper, say around £700.
Tarmac is more vulnerable in its early life as the surface strengthens and hardens as it ages. The risk of damage is also higher in the summer months due to higher temperatures. There are generally two main forms of wear that seriously affect the tarmac surface. Standing points or indentations from heavy loads such as caravans or motorbike stands cannot be repaired easily so you should avoid leaving heavy objects for long periods on your new drive until it has had a sufficient amount of time to harden.

The most common damage is caused by the scuffing action of vehicle tyres when using power steering in a stationery movement or manoeuvring in a small area. Where scuffing occurs on newly laid surfaces the area should immediately be trodden back down, but this is only effective on newly laid surfaces.
If you have potholes in your tarmac driveway caused from chemical corrosion from fuel or oil, or from physical damage, there are patch pothole repair products available which can be used to fill the potholes and to prevent the pothole getting any larger and letting water in causing serious damage to the tarmac structure.