Asphalt or tarmac driveways – which are best?

Patio and Driveway Jetwash in London

Asphalt and tarmac may look virtually identical when you study their surfaces. But in fact these are two very different materials, although both are used widely in driveways across the UK.

Are you deciding which to have outside your home? Here’s a guide to help.


Consisting of crushed aggregate and mixed with a tar substance, tarmac is durable and quick to lay down. So it’s ideal in commercial settings. However, petrol spillages can curtail the lifespan of your surface.


Asphalt also comprises crushed aggregate, but incorporates bitumen rather than tar. As a result, the appearance is very similar, but performance is slightly different.

Like tarmac, asphalt is pretty durable. And it can withstand changing temperatures, no matter what the great British winter throws at it. That’s why many road builders often prefer it.

Deciding as a homeowner

Here are some points to consider:

  • Tarmac is the easier material to fit if time is tight. Once the hot liquid is on your surface, it just needs rolling in place.
  • It’s ready to use once it’s dry. Equally, the stuff can also be laid over existing surfaces, making driveway resurfacing jobs easier.
  • You can finish a tarmac driveway in one day.
  • Asphalt is less cost-effective on smaller areas. But generally it’s more environmentally friendly because, unlike tarmac, you can reuse it.
  • Asphalt is more visually appealing with a smoother texture, and is often easier to maintain. Damage is straightforward to repair and spills on asphalt are easy to clean up. Fill cracks before they spread, and clean with a hard brush at least once a year.

The material you choose clearly depends on what you need and the choice is yours. However, many homeowners may find asphalt just has the edge. It does take a few days to install an asphalt drive, but it can last decades with the right maintenance.

Whichever material you go for, many homeowners plus owners of commercial properties find regular pressure washing is the best method for deep cleaning of their driveways.

How we can help

At Royal Stone Care, we provide high-quality driveway cleaning and patio cleaning services in London for domestic and commercial clients, providing professional steam jet washing and taking the hassle out of keeping your outside area spotless. Talk to us today.