Tarmac vs Block Paving: Driveway Costs Compared

Tarmac vs Block Paving: Driveway Costs Compared

Deciding on the best surface for your driveway can be a head-scratcher. You’re looking for durability, curb appeal, and value for money, and it’s down to the wire between tarmac and block paving. Both options have their champions, but which one will take the crown for your home?

Tarmac offers a sleek, seamless finish that’s hard to beat, while block paving boasts a charm that can elevate the look of any property. It’s not just about looks, though; you’re after a solution that’ll stand the test of time and the rigours of daily use. Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of tarmac vs block paving and help you make a choice that you’ll be proud of for years to come.

Another prominent factor to consider when it comes to the style of surface you want is the drainage for the driveway. If you are converting a front garden area to a driveway, regardless if its just an extension to the existing driveway or a complete transformation, SUDS regulations are a major factor. Learn more about solutions for driveway drainages and why they are important.

Pros and Cons of Tarmac for Your Driveway

When it comes to tarmac driveways, it’s important to weigh up the advantages and drawbacks to see if it aligns with your requirements.

Advantages of Tarmac

Tarmac is renowned for its durability and ease of installation. Here are some of the key benefits:

  • Speed of Installation: Your tarmac driveway can be completed relatively quickly, often within a day for an average-sized driveway.
  • Cost-Effective: It is generally less expensive than block paving, making it an attractive option for those on a tighter budget.
  • Low Maintenance: Besides occasional cleaning and the rare need for a top-layer reapplication, maintenance is minimal.
  • Weather Resistant: Tarmac is extremely resilient to the adverse effects of weather, particularly the UK’s frequent rain.

With its seamless finish, a tarmac driveway also offers a crisp, clean aesthetic that provides a stark contrast to the greenery in your garden.

Drawbacks of Tarmac

However, there are some drawbacks that you’ll need to consider:

  • Prone to Damage: Although durable, tarmac can suffer from oil spills and can also soften in extremely high temperatures.
  • Limited Colour Options: Generally, you’re limited to black with tarmac, which may not complement every home’s exterior.
  • Less Permeable: Tarmac surfaces are less permeable to water, potentially leading to runoff issues unless proper drainage is installed.

Long-Term Considerations

When factoring in long-term use, it’s crucial to think about the lifespan of a tarmac driveway. Typically, tarmac lasts for around 15 years before needing significant attention. Yet, your driveway’s longevity will largely depend on the quality of the initial installation and subsequent care.

Assessing the pros and cons of tarmac is a pivotal step in making an informed decision about your driveway surface. It’s also a matter of personal taste, practicality, and how you envisage the future of your property’s curb appeal.

Pros and Cons of Block Paving for Your Driveway

When considering block paving for your driveway, you’re looking at a surface that’s both visually appealing and versatile. Block paving sets itself apart with its range of patterns and colours, enabling a unique and customisable finish that tarmac simply can’t match. It’s an ideal way to add character and value to your property.

Advantages of Block Paving

  • Aesthetics: With a variety of textures, colours, and patterns, block paving enhances your home’s curb appeal.
  • Durability: Properly laid block paving is robust and can last for decades with little shifting.
  • Repair and Maintenance: Individual blocks can be lifted and replaced if damage occurs, making repair a breeze.
  • Permeability: Some block paving options are permeable, allowing water to seep through and reducing the risk of puddles or flooding.

As you consider these benefits, it’s also crucial to realise that the installation process is labour-intensive and requires skill and precision. Mistakes in the laying can lead to uneven surfaces and long-term stability issues.

Drawbacks of Block Paving

Block paving’s initial allure is sometimes overshadowed by its disadvantages:

  • Weed Growth: The gaps between the blocks can attract weeds, demanding regular maintenance.
  • Cost: Expect to pay more upfront for the intricate installation process and materials.
  • Time-consuming Installation: Compared to tarmac, block paving takes longer to install, potentially disrupting your routine.
  • Ground Movement Sensitivity: Substrate movement may cause blocks to misalign and create uneven surfaces.

Ensure that you have weighed these pros and cons, and how they align with your preferences and requirements. Whether you prioritise aesthetics or practicality, your driveway is a long-term investment and choosing the right material is critical.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Tarmac and Block Paving

When you’re deliberating between tarmac and block paving for your driveway, certain factors should steer your decision. Here’s what you’ll need to weigh up:

Budget Constraints

Tarmac typically offers a more cost-effective solution upfront compared to block paving. It’s crucial to consider not just the initial cost but also long-term value and maintenance expenses. With tarmac, you’re looking at a straightforward installation process that tends to be lighter on your wallet. Block paving, on the other hand, might have a higher initial cost but can add significant curb appeal and potentially increase your property value.

Aesthetic Preferences

Your home’s aesthetic can influence your choice significantly. Block paving boasts a wide array of colours, patterns, and styles, allowing for a customised look that can complement your home’s architecture. Tarmac, while limited in variety, offers a sleek, uniform surface that suits modern property designs.

Durability and Maintenance

Think about the longevity and upkeep of the materials. Block paving is known for its durability and ease of repair. Individual blocks can be replaced if damaged. Tarmac driveways are also durable but may require resurfacing after several years.

Installation Time

Consider how much time you have for the installation process. Block paving takes longer to install due to its intricate laying process. If you need a driveway ready in a short span, tarmac might be the more practical choice.

Environmental Considerations

Permeable block paving can be a sustainable option, allowing water to drain through and reduce runoff. Tarmac, although less permeable, can be mixed with recycled materials for an eco-friendlier approach.

Always take into account local climate and the usual weather patterns in your area. The material you choose should be able to withstand the specific conditions it will face, whether that’s extreme heat, cold, or heavy rainfall.

Usage and Load

Evaluate the expected usage of your driveway. If you’re anticipating heavy vehicles or loads, sturdy materials are a priority. Both tarmac and block paving can handle significant weight, but the correct sub-base and installation technique are imperative for long-term stability.

Make sure to consult with a professional installer who can advise on the best option for your specific needs and ensure your driveway stands the test of time.

Durability and Maintenance of Tarmac Driveways

When you’re pondering the longevity of your driveway, tarmac’s durability is a significant advantage. Its ability to withstand the harshness of the British weather means you’re less likely to face costly repairs. Tarmac is designed to endure the constant pressure of vehicles and resist cracking under the strain.

However, should you find your tarmac driveway in need of repair, it’s typically straightforward. Small cracks or potholes can be easily patched, saving you time and money. But keep in mind that over time, tarmac may fade and require resealing to regain its original lustre. This process isn’t overly complex, but it’s an additional maintenance task to factor into your decision.

Regarding routine care, your tarmac driveway demands very little. A frequent sweep to remove debris and the occasional hose down to clear any build-up of dirt will usually suffice. You might want to treat oil spills or tyre marks promptly to avoid long-term staining.

It’s worth noting that extreme temperatures can test the resilience of tarmac. During very hot weather, the surface can soften, and in colder conditions, it might harden and become brittle. While this doesn’t pose a significant issue for most homeowners, it’s something to be aware of, especially if you’re in an area experiencing these weather extremes.

  • Regular Cleaning: Keep the surface free of debris to avoid scratches and accumulation of dirt.
  • Pothole Repair: Address any damage promptly to prevent worsening.
  • Resealing: Consider a fresh seal coat every few years to restore appearance.
  • Oil Stain Treatment: Use a degreaser or specialist product to remove oil or fuel spills.

By understanding the necessary maintenance and durability of tarmac driveways, you’re better equipped to weigh it against block paving options, ensuring the right choice for your home.

Durability and Maintenance of Block Paving Driveways

When you’re exploring driveway options, you’ll find that block paving driveways boast impressive durability and a unique aesthetic appeal. Known for their individual bricks and array of patterns, these driveways are designed to last. A significant advantage of block paving is its ability to withstand heavy loads, making it a sturdy choice for your driveway.

Yet, durability isn’t just about strength; it’s also tied to maintenance. Block paving maintenance is straightforward but cannot be neglected. Individual blocks can shift or become dislodged, so monitoring and prompt repair are essential to maintain the visual appeal and functionality.

When it comes to routine care, here are the basic steps you should keep in mind:

  • Sweep regularly to remove debris and prevent staining.
  • Wash with soapy water periodically to tackle dirt accumulation.
  • Remove weeds that sprout between the blocks.

Over time, you may notice that individual blocks sink or rise due to ground movement. The upside is that unlike tarmac, block paving allows for easy replacement of just the affected blocks, rather than an entire section. This can be a cost-effective way of dealing with wear and tear.

By following a scheduled maintenance routine, your block paving driveway can remain as pristine as the day it was installed. Occasional resealing also helps in prolonging the lifespan of the driveway by protecting it from the elements, stains, and wear.

In terms of weather resistance, whilst block paving driveways handle the freeze-thaw cycle better than concrete, they’re not entirely immune to weather-related deterioration. Proper installation and quality of materials play a crucial role in how well a block paving driveway can resist extreme temperatures and conditions.

Remember, a well-maintained block paving driveway not only adds curb appeal but also increases the value of your property. By investing time into the care of your driveway, you’re ensuring lasting beauty and functionality for years to come.

Curb Appeal and Aesthetic Considerations

When it comes to the exterior of your home, first impressions matter. The choice between tarmac and block paving isn’t merely practical; it deeply influences the curb appeal of your property. Tarmac driveways offer a uniform, seamless look that suits modern and minimalist homes. Available in traditional black or red, it’s a simple option that can be installed quickly, boosting your home’s facade with minimal fuss.

On the flip side, block paving driveways excel in aesthetic versatility and individuality. You’ve got a wide array of colours, textures, and patterns at your disposal. Whether you’re aiming for a rustic cobblestone effect or a sophisticated herringbone pattern, block paving can be tailored to the unique style of your home. Moreover, it can be laid out in mesmerising designs that complement your garden and exterior features, creating a cohesive look that can significantly enhance your property’s visual appeal.

Beyond design flexibility, the texture of block paving naturally provides non-slip properties which are particularly beneficial in icy or wet conditions. However, it’s worth noting that individual blocks can shift or become dislodged over time, affecting the overall appearance unless maintained regularly.

It’s also important to consider the long-term perspective of how your driveway will age. Tarmac may require resurfacing to maintain its sleek appearance, while block paving can develop a more distinguished character as it weathers. Keep in mind that any patches on tarmac can be noticeable, whereas replacements on block paving are generally indistinguishable, allowing for spot repairs without compromising the driveway’s aesthetic.

Integration with Landscaping

Reflect on how your chosen driveway material will integrate with your current or planned landscaping. Block paving allows for greater creativity, where you can intersperse greenery within the design, softening the hard landscaping and adding a touch of nature to the approach of your home. Tarmac, given its uniform nature, offers a neat backdrop that highlights your lawn and flowerbeds, but without the same opportunity for incorporation of green elements.

Cost and Value for Money Comparison

When you’re weighing up tarmac versus block paving for your driveway, the cost and the long-term value for money are crucial factors to consider. Initial outlay, lifespan, and maintenance requirements all play a part in determining which option is the most cost-effective for you.

Tarmac often wins the initial cost comparison. Its installation is generally more straightforward and requires less labour, contributing to a lower price point. However, the longevity of your tarmac driveway can be influenced by quality of installation and the amount of heavy vehicle traffic it must endure. Over time, you might find that the need for repairs and resealing adds to the lifetime expense.

On the flip side, block paving has a higher upfront cost. The materials and the intricate labour involved in laying individual blocks mean you’ll be investing more from the outset. But block paving boasts a key financial advantage: longevity and ease of repair. Unlike tarmac, if a section of your block paving becomes damaged or stained, you can replace individual blocks rather than resurfacing the entire area. In addition, the aesthetic appeal of block paving can increase the curb appeal and potentially the value of your property.

To give you a clearer idea, here’s a brief cost comparison:

Material Initial Cost Range per m² Expected Lifespan
Tarmac £45 – £65 15-20 years
Block Paving £75 – £100 20-25 years

Remember, the durability and maintenance of the material will affect the actual value for money over the years. While block paving may require a larger initial investment, it often equates to less frequent and less costly maintenance, ensuring your driveway stays in pristine condition for longer. Tarmac, while cheaper initially, might necessitate more extensive maintenance, especially in high-traffic scenarios.

Choosing the right option for you isn’t just about the numbers. It’s also about weighing up the benefits versus the costs over the long term. Consider the annual maintenance costs, the potential need for repairs, and how the choice of driveway material fits with your lifestyle and the aesthetic of your home.


Deciding between tarmac and block paving for your driveway boils down to weighing initial costs against long-term value. Tarmac’s affordability may be appealing, yet it’s vital to factor in the potential for more frequent touch-ups. Meanwhile, block paving’s steeper price tag is offset by its durability and simple repair process, potentially saving you money and hassle in the future. Remember, your driveway is an investment. Choose the material that aligns with your budget, aesthetic preferences, and willingness to maintain. It’s not just about the here and now—it’s about ensuring satisfaction and functionality for years to come.