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What Is Tarmac and What Is Asphalt?

Learn about the differences between tarmac and asphalt and their benefits. Total Line Marking provides cost-effective tarmac surfacing and maintenance solutions.

Introduction to Tarmac and Asphalt

Tarmac and asphalt are terms often used interchangeably, but they are, in fact, different materials with distinct characteristics and applications. In this article, we will explore the differences between tarmac and asphalt, their benefits, and their main applications.

What Is Tarmac and What Is Asphalt?

Tarmacadam, or tarmac, is a mixture of crushed stone and tar. It is laid onto surfaces using a vibrating roller, which ensures a smooth finish. Tarmac is primarily used for surfacing driveways, car parks, airport runways, and roads.

Asphalt, on the other hand, is similar to tarmac but contains bitumen instead of tar. It uses fewer materials and is generally more durable than tarmac. Asphalt is versatile and can be used for surfacing roads, driveways, pathways, bike tracks, warehouses, sports courts, shopping centres, and more.

Benefits of Tarmac

Easy to Install: Tarmac driveways can be installed almost all year round, as they are easy to lay. Tarmac is applied hot, directly onto the surface, and then allowed to cool so the particles bind together perfectly.

Strong and Durable: Tarmac provides a smooth, attractive finish, and is long-lasting and resistant to weather and water. It can withstand heavy traffic and doesn't crack, making it a popular choice for road and driveway surfacing. Additionally, the tarmac provides excellent grip in various conditions.

Tarmac surface with an arrow painted on it

Benefits of Asphalt

Affordable: Asphalt is relatively inexpensive compared to the tarmac, making it a suitable choice for surfacing larger areas. While it may not be as resistant to car tire scuffing as tarmac, it is more resistant to extreme weather conditions.

Easy to Maintain: Asphalt surfaces can be easily maintained and repaired. If cracking occurs, it can be quickly addressed using a crack sealant product. Regular cleaning with a broom or high-pressure water ensures the surface stays in top condition. Applying a seal-coat every 2 to 5 years helps maintain the weather resistance and appearance of asphalt surfaces.

Reusable: Unlike tarmac, asphalt can be reused and applied to almost any surface, making it a more environmentally friendly option.

Tarmac and Asphalt – Main Differences

Reusability: Asphalt can be reprocessed, while tarmac is not reusable and is therefore less eco-friendly.

Cost-effectiveness: Asphalt is generally more cost-effective than tarmac, making it a better choice for small surfaces.

Durability and Maintenance: Tarmac is strong, durable, and less prone to cracking but requires frequent maintenance. In contrast, asphalt surfaces are easier to maintain.


Total Line Marking is an expert in tarmac surfacing, offering cost-effective and efficient solutions for those seeking a perfect mix of durability and aesthetics. We also provide maintenance services to prevent the deterioration of your surfaces. If you are interested in tarmac or asphalt surfacing, request a free quotation and contact us anytime if you have additional questions. We'll be more than happy to help!

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