Tarmac is generally considered to be the cheapest method of laying a hard surface. But it’s a time-consuming job which requires specialist tools, machinery and, not least, knowledge. This means that it only becomes the cheapest method once the driveway is up to a suitable size, where the economies of scale kick in.
When searching for tarmac driveway companies please ensure you choose an expert tarmac driveway installation company that offers a written quotation and insurance backed guarantee.
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. If you’re going to talk to contractors, you’ll need to know that tarmac is more properly called bitmac.
Bitmac or Tarmac?
The name tarmac was original derived from 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.
Consider Where you use Tarmac
You do need to think hard before deciding on tarmac for a driveway 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 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.
It’s not really a good surface for a recreational patio or other garden area, 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 drive 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 Driveway Materials
If you do decide to go for tarmac driveway (or bitmac), it’s worth knowing that there are many different types and even colours. 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.
A different size of aggregate to that normally used for roads can do a lot to set your tarmac driveway 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.