Is there a difference between asphalt and tarmac?

Although they might look the same, there are in fact some important differences between these two materials. It can be tricky to tell them apart on a road surface. Many people confuse the names of these substances, so how do you know which is the best choice for your needs? There are a few points to consider.


This is the actual name for what we mostly call ‘tarmac’. It is a tough and hard-wearing substance, great for road surfaces. It is made by coating layers of crushed stone with tar. It is strong, with a solid grip and water resistant. It is also gives a pleasingly smooth finish to the surface which explains its popularity for domestic driveways. Find out more about Tarmac Bristol at a site like Thornbury Surfacing, providers of Tarmac Bristol

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Nowadays, bitmac is the preferred choice as it is less susceptible to damage from spillages of petrol or diesel. It still contains the crushed stones but is coated with bitumen instead of tar. This makes it more similar to asphalt surfaces than tarmac, however, bitmac has more sand and filler than asphalt.


Popular for road surfaces as it’s economical to produce for covering large surface areas. It is not so ideal for smaller surfaces, however. Although often referred to as asphalt tarmac, the two are very different. Asphalt is tougher but not so resistant to scuffs from tyres, for example. Asphalt is more weather resistant, particularly in extreme weather and requires much less upkeep.

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