Help with Selecting a Driveway Surface

by Michael

Dear Nancy,
Greetings from Cork in Ireland. We are thinking of resurfacing or changing our driveway and I came across your website giving advice about different types of surfaces.

We are undecided about replacing the tar that is in place at the moment and getting quite worn. We like the idea of stamped concrete, but we wonder how long it would last and hold its pattern before wearing away ? We are also considering replacing the tar with asphalt, but we are unsure how long that would last? Is asphalt a better quality of tar? Also, if we replace with asphalt, do we need to rip up the tar that is there at present, or can it be used as a base for the new asphalt?

If you have time to respond, we'd be really grateful for your help. I look forward to hearing from you.



Dear Michael,

Tar is a different material than asphalt. Tar is not usually used alone for a driveway surface, but used as an adhesive to hold gravel in place. To put down a new asphalt driveway, it can be put down over the tar, if the driveway base is strong. A compacted gravel base of at least 4 inches is necessary to give a strong foundation to your driveway. If the base isn't there, the driveway can sink and crack. An asphalt surface will last much longer than tar, and won't melt when it gets hot making a gooey mess.
Stamped concrete is significantly more expensive than asphalt. It also must be installed on a strong base. Colored concrete is used, so the color holds up well. A powdered release is applied to the surface to give the concrete its variation in color. I think this holds up well too, but may wear on a driveway surface. With any decorative concrete, don't use ice melting chemicals on it to help preserve the surface. Concrete does crack, no matter how well it is installed. Repairing stamped concrete is difficult because it's hard to match. A high traffic driveway that has heavy vehicles on it should not be done in stamped concrete.
Hope this information helps! Thanks for submitting your question.


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