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Updated: Oct 3, 2023


The History of Tarmac

The invention of tarmac, a material widely used in construction and paving, traces back to the early 19th century. It was first patented by Edgar Purnell Hooley, a British surveyor, in the year 1902. Hooley's creation was prompted by his encounter with a smooth stretch of road near Denby Ironworks, Derbyshire, England. At this site, tar had been accidentally spilled on the road and slag from the nearby ironworks used to cover it up, resulting in an effective road surface. Recognizing the potential, Hooley patented the process and established the TarMacadam (Tarmac) company (Perkins, 2013).

Hot tarmac being laid with worker

Manufacturing Process of a Metre Cubed of Tarmac

The manufacturing process of tarmac involves several steps (Prowell, 2015):

  1. Gathering Raw Materials: The process begins by collecting the necessary raw materials, chiefly stone aggregates of various sizes and bitumen.

  2. Crushing and Screening: The aggregates are then crushed and screened to the required sizes.

  3. Heating: The aggregates are then heated in a drum to remove moisture and improve the binding with bitumen.

  4. Mixing with Bitumen: The heated aggregates are mixed with bitumen, a binding agent. This mixture is the tarmac.

  5. Transportation: The hot mix is then transported to the construction site in insulated lorries.

  6. Application: The tarmac is then laid on the road and compacted using a roller.

The Price of an Average Metre Cubed of Tarmac in the UK

The cost of tarmac can vary significantly across the UK, depending on factors such as geographical location, labor costs, and the complexity of the project. Here are the estimated price ranges for an average metre cubed of tarmac in the four different constituent countries of the UK:

  1. England: £40 - £70 per square metre (, 2021)

  2. Scotland: £45 - £75 per square metre (, 2021)

  3. Wales: £40 - £70 per square metre (, 2021)

  4. Northern Ireland: £35 - £65 per square metre (, 2021)

Please note that these are only estimates, and actual prices may vary.

Different Types of a Metre Cubed of Tarmac

Tarmac, also known as asphalt, comes in several types which are classified based on the raw materials used in their composition.

  1. Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA): This is the most common type used in road construction and it is produced by heating the asphalt binder to decrease its viscosity, and drying the aggregate to remove moisture before mixing both. This type of mixture is known for its durability and resistance to deformation (National Asphalt Pavement Association, n.d.).

  2. Warm Mix Asphalt (WMA): WMA is produced at temperatures 20–40 °F lower than typical HMA. This results in lower energy consumption and emissions. It has similar longevity and performance characteristics to HMA (Federal Highway Administration, 2010).

  3. Cold Mix Asphalt: This type of asphalt is primarily used for low-traffic roads and for patchwork. It's made by emulsifying the asphalt in water before mixing it with the aggregate. This process allows the mixed material to be stored and used at lower temperatures (Asphalt Institute, n.d.).

  4. Stone Matrix Asphalt (SMA): This is a type of mix that prioritizes maximum durability and rut resistance. SMA achieves this by using a high proportion of coarse aggregate to create a stone skeleton that resists permanent deformation (Asphalt Pavement Alliance, n.d.).

Different Manufacturers of Tarmac

Tarmac manufacturing is a global industry with several major players known for their high-quality products and innovative solutions.

  1. Lafarge Tarmac: A British company that's a leading supplier of building materials, including tarmac. Lafarge Tarmac offers a range of asphalt products and is known for its commitment to sustainable practices. It's a subsidiary of the multinational company LafargeHolcim (Lafarge Tarmac, n.d.).

  2. Cemex: An international building materials company headquartered in Mexico, Cemex offers a wide variety of asphalt products, including hot mix and warm mix asphalt. They are recognized for their innovative and sustainable solutions (Cemex, n.d.).

  3. Hanson: Part of the HeidelbergCement Group, Hanson is a leading supplier of heavy building materials in the UK, including a wide variety of asphalt products. Hanson's products are known for their quality and durability (Hanson UK, n.d.).

  4. Aggregate Industries: A member of the LafargeHolcim Group, Aggregate Industries provides a comprehensive range of asphalt products. The company is recognized for its innovative and sustainable solutions (Aggregate Industries, n.d.).

If you're interested to understand how you can get the up-to-date prices of tarmac, or a delivery of tarmac, then head to to get started. There, you'll be able to create your Bill of Materials an instantly compare prices from several suppliers in seconds.


Reference: Perkins, J. (2013). 'The road taken: the history and future of America's infrastructure'. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Reference: Prowell, B. D. (2015). 'Asphalt paving mixtures and blocks'. U.S. Geological Survey, Mineral Commodity Summaries. (2021). 'What's the Cost of Laying Tarmac Driveway in 2021?'. [Online] Available at: (2021). 'Tarmac Driveway Cost and Guide 2021'. [Online] Available at: (2021). 'How much does it cost to tarmac a driveway? Updated prices for 2021'. [Online] Available at: (2021). 'Discover How Much Tarmac Driveway Costs (Fully Itemised)'. [Online] Available at:

National Asphalt Pavement Association. (n.d.). 'Hot Mix Asphalt Pavement'. [Online] Available at:

Federal Highway Administration. (2010). 'Warm-Mix Asphalt: Best Practices'. [Online] Available at:

Asphalt Institute. (n.d.). 'Cold Mix Asphalt'. [Online] Available at:

Asphalt Pavement Alliance. (n.d.). 'Stone Matrix Asphalt'. [Online] Available at:

Lafarge Tarmac. (n.d.). Our asphalt. [Online] Available at:

Cemex. (n.d.). Our asphalt products. [Online] Available at:

Hanson UK. (n.d.). Asphalt. [Online] Available at:

Aggregate Industries. (n.d.). Asphalt products. [Online] Available at:

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