New Tarmac is generally considered to be the cheapest method of laying a hard surface onto driveways. But it’s a time-consuming job which requires specialist tools, tarmac machinery and, not least, knowledge. This means that tarmac for drives only becomes the cheapest method once the driveway is up to a suitable size, where the economies of tarmacing driveways scale kick in.
When searching for tarmac driveways please ensure you choose expert tarmac driveways installation company that offers a written quotation and can show some evidence of or images of a new tarmac driveway.
For these reasons, tarmac driveways are not something that can reasonably be considered as a DIY job, unless you have friends or relatives in the trade who are going to help you out, particularly with the machinery tarmac drives are very tricky. If you’re going to talk to contractors, you’ll need to know that a tarmac drive is more properly called bitmac or asphalt nowadays.
Bitmac or Tarmac?
Tarmac for driveways was original developed by John MacAdam, who developed the process in the West. He used tar, which can be found naturally, to hold the small stones together, hence the name tar macadam, or tarmac for short. Nowadays, as the binding agent for the aggregates is bitumen, a by-product of the oil refining process, rather than tar, it is known as bitumen macadam, shortened in the trade to bitmac, when houses were being built in latter years those that had driveways, tarmac became more and more popular.
Consider Where you use Tarmac
You do need to think hard before deciding on tarmac on driveways outside your home, particularly if you like to work on cars or motorcycles as a hobby. Petrol or diesel spills, or splashes of other solvents like penetrating oil, will break down the hardened top surface on tarmac driveways then eat their way through the lower layers. This process can’t be reversed and soon the aggregates begin to spill out of the resulting hole every time a car tyre passes over it. The hole will grow, look very unsightly, and it can only be fixed by patching, which doesn’t look great.
You need to consider the affect on your neighbourhood area, too. If all the other driveways in the street are tarmac, perhaps because they were all done in one go when the houses were built, then obviously it will fit in beautifully. But if that’s not the case and your hopuse is the only tarmac driveway and all the other drives in the street fit in with the period of the property for example block paving, then yours will stick out like a sore thumb, and possibly make the house a little harder to sell. Your neighbours won’t thank you for putting down an eyesore either.
It’s not really a good surface for a recreational patio or other garden area, it really is only good for driveways, as it’s not that attractive and can get hot in summer, which is when you want to use that space. Having said that, you might want to have an area in the garden for kids to play ball sports or games on, if you have the space. If you’re going to get a tarmac driveway laid anyway, the extra cost of doing part of the garden won’t be a great deal more, since the people, machinery and supplies will be coming to you anyway.
Tinker with the Size and Colour of your Tarmac Driveway Materials
If you do decide to go for tarmac driveways (or bitmac / asphalt), it’s worth knowing that there are many different types and even colours. The great thing about driveways is that they come in different shapes and sizes which makes tarmac ideal. This might make it a bit more palatable for a residential property or in a garden. The main differences are in the size and type of aggregate used, and the type of binding agent used for a tarmac driveway.
A different size of aggregate to that normally used for roads can do a lot to set tarmac driveways apart from just another piece of road, and coloured aggregates are available that can help tarmac driveways blend into its surroundings. Although the choice of binding agent is best left to the professionals, to be taken on functional grounds, there are coloured binders available. If they can be used in your situation and match, or get close, to the colour of the aggregate, then the effect can be very pleasing.