Driveway and Patio Finish Comparison Continued


Tarmac driveways are considered to be one of the most popular methods of driveway surfacing. There are many different types of tarmac to choose from.

Tarmac offers maximum performance providing an attractive, versatile and cost-effective approach to finishing your property.

Tarmac paving can also be edged with stone or mixed with other paving materials to provide a neat and attractive finish.


  • Easy to maintain
  • Has good resistance to heavy use
  • Can be exposed to all types of weather conditions without displaying wear and tear
  • Can be coloured to your liking
  • Should staining or damage occur it is easy to repair


  • Only has a certain life span
  • Attracts heat and can get very hot in the summer
  • Need to include gullies and drains to cater for surface water runoff
  • If your driveway is north facing moss and algae can become a problem

Tar and Chip

Hot tar is applied to a base layer of gravel. While the tar is still hot, stone chips are placed on top so that they can stick to the tar. After the stone chips are laid on top of the tar, a steamroller presses them in firmly.


  • tar and chip driveways are less expensive than asphalt
  • doesn’t have to be sealed
  • little maintenance
  • attractive finish


Asphalt is a combination of bits of rock, sand and asphalt cement. An asphalt driveway will perform much like concrete but at a lower cost. Pattern-stamping and colouring are also options for asphalt paving.


  • Asphalt is flexible so it is less susceptible to cracking.
  • Typically last 12 to 35 years depending on the quality of the installation, the climate in your area, the amount of usage your driveway has gotten and how well you maintain your driveway
  • Can be re-layered if necessary
  • Is a cheaper alternative to concrete


  • You need to seal coat the asphalt every few years.
  • Asphalt can also get very hot in the summer
  • Needs to be cleaned at least twice a year

Slate Paving

Slate has been around for a very long time now and is a popular choice for paving.


  • Easy to cleave and work


  • Slate is heavy so is not feasible for long distance transport

Concrete Slabs

Concrete slabs are highly versatile and are reasonably priced. The slabs can come in textured, exposed aggregate and polished versions in a variety of colours. There is an extensive range of sizes available to choose from. 63mm or 70mm thick units are ideal for driveways.

There is also a choice of aggregate types with various coloured granites available but there are also slabs with blue or green glass nodules as the exposed aggregate.

A medium level of maintenance is required. It needs to be swept now and then to remove dust and debris. Any vegetation that manages to grow can be removed by a pressure washer.


  • Plain concrete slabs are quite reasonably priced in comparison to the more decorative types of paving products
  • Very easy to obtain
  • Simple and utilitarian


  • Mortar pointing is prone to cracking but it can be re-pointed if required
  • Dry sand jointing needs to be topped up every so often
  • Not as compliant as block paving when used to pave twisting or folding planes.

Concrete slabs must be properly drained to suitable drainage points.

Plain Concrete

Concrete is often passed over as a potential pavement surface, mainly because of its lack of colour or texture. It can however be very suitable in areas where a decorative look is not important.


  • It is relatively inexpensive.
  • Easy to lay
  • Maintenance free
  • Must be properly drained


  • It is not the most attractive finish but can be combined with decorative edging to create a look that can be quite attractive.
  • Stains easily and stains are very tough to remove
  • Can’t be re-layered like other surfaces

Pattern Imprinted or Stamped Concrete

Patterned or Stamped Concrete is concrete that is patterned and/or textured or embossed to bear a resemblance to brick, slate, flagstone, stone, tile and various other patterns and textures. It is widely used for patios and driveway.


  • A less expensive alternative to other finishes such as stone, slate and brick.
  • There are a variety of design and colour options available


  • May crack over time
  • Needs to be sealed repeatedly or it can fade over time
  • Can be slippery when wet

Cobbles and Cobblestones

Cobbles and Cobblestones are blocks of natural stone, hewn from a quarry, in a range of different sizes; they can come in various different rock types. They range from 100x100mm to 200x250mm in size, and have an average depth of 150-200mm.

Duckstones are large, rounded beach pebbles 200-400mm in size. Setts are blocks of stone with dimensions that are 50-300mm in length and have a thickness of at least 50mm.

Cobbles are an excellent paving product that will last for many years. Cobblestone driveway pavers in particular are practically synonymous with longevity.


  • Long lasting and durable
  • Their natural colouring will not fade
  • Large range of textured finishes available
  • Requires little or no maintenance
  • Ease of repair


  • Can be some inaccuracy in the planned dimensions
  • The domed surface of the Hovis-loaf type reclaimed setts can be awkward to walk on
  • If sett paving has been properly laid it is impermeable and so must be drained to suitable drainage points.
  • Can be quite expensive and time consuming to lay

When putting in a driveway you should carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages of the various driveway materials. When deciding which finish will suit your needs best keep in mind that the option you choose should be practical for the parking and turning of cars.

I hope you found this article helpful. If you would like to hire a paving contractor you can post your job at, we’d be delighted to help you find a suitable contractor for the job.

If you have any comments on this subject please feel free to enter them in the comments box below, we’d be delighted to hear your experiences with any of the finishes outlined above.

All the best,
Oliver Dempsey


Some other articles that you might be interested in are listed below:

About Oliver Dempsey

Owner and Managing Director at and contributor to the Blog DISCLAIMER: All content provided in my articles is for informational purposes only. The information contained in these articles has been obtained from research carried out by myself through online and offline sources and through other writers and contributors who provide me with content. While I am responsible for the final editing of each article and I do my best to verify the information, I do not make representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information. Therefore you must not rely on the information contained in any of these articles and always make sure to seek the advice of a suitably qualified expert before embarking on any project.
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  • Patrick Chesser

    I personally prefer tarmacadan as it is very cheap to get done and has a very appealing design.

  • tradesmen1

    Hi Patrick,
    thanks for your comment. Tarmacadam wouldn’t be the cheapest but it does look well and it’s easy to maintain


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