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How to clean a tarmac driveway

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8th November 2023

How to clean a tarmac driveway

You've got your shiny new tarmac driveway, it looks fantastic and you couldn't be quicker taking in your shopping from the car. But don't get too comfortable yet. Time can slip away from you quickly - and instead of looking after your amazing driveway, you may not realise it, but you're at risk of neglecting it and letting it become dusty, crusty and broken. 

Thankfully, you've shown up here - and we have the best answers for you. Keep reading to find out why it's important to clean and maintain your tarmac driveway as well as a step-by-step guide you can follow to ensure you have the best driveway in town.

What is a tarmac driveway?

Before we start, let's understand tarmac driveways a little better. A tarmac driveway is a type of driveway surface made from a mixture of aggregates (such as crushed stone, gravel, or sand) and hot liquid (bitumen), a sticky black substance derived from crude oil. This creates a hot mix tarmac that is smoothed down to create roads, car parks and even your driveway substance.

Tarmac driveways are popular because of their smooth and durable surface that can withstand heavy loads and various weather conditions. Tarmac driveways have several advantages, including their affordability, low maintenance requirements - being cheaper than other types like a block paving driveway, concrete driveways etc. They're also a great choice as they're resistant to cracks and potholes.

Most tarmac driveways can be easily repaired if damaged and offer good drainage properties. Additionally, tarmac driveways can be customised with decorative edging, patterns, or colours to enhance their visual appeal and complement the overall aesthetics of a property. Therefore, tarmac driveway prices really showcase their popularity. It's no wonder you've picked it as your source of material!

However, like most things - depending on the effort of maintenance will result in how long your tarmac drive will last before problems will occur.

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Why is it essential to maintain and clean a tarmac driveway?

A tarmac surface can add kerb appeal to your property, but over time, it may start to look worn out and dirty. Regular cleaning and maintenance can help keep your tarmac driveway looking fresh and prolong its lifespan. There are many reasons why it's crucial to maintain your existing driveway. Let's take a closer look at these below so you can understand what sticking to our guide will be essential.

  • Prolongs the lifespan: Regular maintenance and cleaning of a tarmac driveway can significantly extend its lifespan. This includes activities like seal coating, which helps protect the surface from damage caused by UV rays, oil spills, and other elements.
  • Prevents damage: Cleaning the driveway removes dirt, debris, and stains that can accumulate over time. This prevents them from causing damage to the surface and underlying layers of the driveway. Regular cleaning also helps prevent mould, mildew, and weeds, which can weaken the structure.
  • Improves curb appeal: A clean and well-maintained driveway enhances the overall appearance of a property. It creates a positive first impression and adds to the curb appeal, which can increase the property's value.
  • Enhances safety: A clean and well-maintained tarmac driveway provides a safe surface for vehicles and pedestrians. Regular cleaning removes slippery substances like oil and grease, reducing the risk of accidents. Additionally, maintaining the driveway ensures that there are no cracks, potholes, or other structural issues that could pose a safety hazard.
  • Saves money: Regularly maintaining and cleaning a tarmac driveway, homeowners can avoid costly repairs or complete replacements in the future. Your average tarmac driveway cost is around £60-80 per square metre. When you add tarmac prices, labour costs and other material costs you've already paid, it's essential to maintain proper care to prevent minor issues from escalating into major problems, like resurfacing driveways - saving you time and money.

Now that you've got a better idea of why cleaning and maintaining your tarmac drive is vital for not only your wallet - but also for your safety, let's go through our step-by-step guide on how you can clean your tarmac driveway effectively.

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Step-by-step Guide:

Items to have:

  • A bush
  • Pressure washer or hose 
  • Tarmac cleaner or detergent solution
  • Protective gloves and eyewear
  • Stiff-bristled brush

Part 1 - Cleaning

Step 1: Tidy the area 

Before you begin cleaning, clear any loose debris, such as leaves, grass clippings, dirt particles, and stones, from the surface of your tarmac driveway. You can use a blower, broom, or leaf blower to accomplish this task.

Step 2: Apply a cleaning solution

Moss, algae, and weeds can grow on the surface of your tarmac driveway, making it look untidy. To remove these unwanted growths, you can use a moss and algae remover or create a solution by mixing water and white vinegar. Spray or apply the solution to the affected areas and let it sit for some time before scrubbing it off.

Apply a cleaning solution to help penetrate the surface of the tarmac driveway and lift stubborn stains and dirt particles that may be deeply embedded. It allows for a more thorough and effective cleaning compared to just using water or a basic detergent. You can use a specialised tarmac solution - or mix up a mild detergent. 

Step 3: Scrub the area

After applying a cleaning solution, some residue may be left on the surface. You can effectively remove this residue by scrubbing the driveway, preventing it from building up over time. Residue buildup can attract dirt and grime, making the driveway appear dirty again more quickly. It allows for a more thorough cleaning and ensures the surface is free from lingering contaminants.

Step 4: Treat oil stains 

If your tarmac driveway has oil stains, it's essential to treat them properly. Start by using a degreaser specifically designed for tarmac surfaces. Apply the degreaser to the stains and allow it to sit for a few minutes.

Step 5: Power wash time

After using the cleaning solution and oil treatment, it's time to use a low-pressure hose or pressure washer to rinse off the degreaser along with the oil stains.

Adjust the pressure settings to avoid damaging the surface. Starting from one end of the driveway, work your way towards the other end systematically, ensuring that every section is thoroughly cleaned.

Step 6: Let it dry

After you've rinsed off your driveway - it's now time to wait. Drying the tarmac driveway after cleaning ensures that the cleaning efforts are not in vain. It allows the surface to fully reveal its clean and restored appearance without any residual moisture affecting the visual results.

Allowing the tarmac driveway to dry after cleaning helps prevent recontamination. Moisture on the surface can attract dirt, dust, and debris, leading to a shorter clean appearance. Drying the driveway thoroughly helps maintain its cleanliness for a longer period.

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Part 2 - Maintenance 

Step 1: Look at the damages

While cleaning your tarmac driveway, keep an eye out for any cracks or potholes. These should be repaired promptly to prevent further deterioration of the surface.

Cracks and potholes can compromise the structural integrity of the driveway. When left untreated, they can lead to the formation of larger cracks or complete failure. You can use a tarmac repair kit or seek professional assistance to fix any damage.

We would never recommend repairing driveway damages by yourself - especially with complex materials like cold lay tarmac. Always consult with a specialist first to make sure you're managing any damages correctly.

Step 2: Apply a sealant 

After cleaning and repairing your tarmac driveway, applying a sealant can help protect it from future damage caused by UV rays, water, and contaminants. Choose a high-quality tarmac sealant and follow the manufacturer's instructions for application. If you seal coat your tarmac driveway every 3-5 years, you should find minimal issues with your space.

Step 3: Regular checks

Tarmac driveways can fade, become discoloured, or develop stains over time. Regular maintenance checks allow you to clean the surface, remove debris, and apply appropriate treatments such as seal coating or resurfacing to restore its appearance and protect it from further damage.

By regularly inspecting and maintaining your tarmac driveway, you can address minor issues early on before they escalate into more significant problems. This helps you avoid costly repairs or even the need for complete driveway replacement in the future.

Tarmac driveways are exposed to various weather conditions, including sunlight, rain, and temperature changes. Regular maintenance checks allow you to assess and reinforce the driveway's ability to withstand these elements, ensuring its durability and longevity.

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If you don't clean and maintain your driveway

Always consider the consequences of not cleaning and maintaining your driveway. 

Unattractive: 

A dirty and unkempt driveway can significantly diminish the overall appearance of your property. Stains, dirt, algae, moss, and other debris can make your driveway look neglected and unattractive - decreasing your property value.

Risks: 

A dirty driveway can pose safety risks. Accumulated debris, such as leaves, moss, or algae, can become slippery when wet, increasing the chances of slips and falls. Additionally, cracks and potholes can create tripping hazards for pedestrians and cause damage to vehicles.

Pest infestation: 

Neglected driveways can attract pests like ants, spiders, or rodents. Organic matter and debris provide food sources and breeding grounds for these unwanted visitors. Regular cleaning helps eliminate these attractants and reduces the risk of infestations.

Cost: 

Repairing cracks, potholes, or extensive damage can be costly and time-consuming. Regular cleaning and maintenance are more cost-effective in the long run compared to expensive repairs or complete driveway replacement.

Things to consider

It is worth considering hiring professional driveway cleaners to clean your existing driveway surface. Professional driveway cleaning and maintenance services have extensive knowledge about different types of driveways and the appropriate cleaning methods. They understand how to handle other stains and contaminants without causing damage to the surface. Their expertise ensures that your driveway is cleaned effectively and safely. 

They also have the necessary equipment, expertise, and experience to clean and maintain driveways quickly and efficiently. They can complete the job in a fraction of the time it would take for a homeowner to do it themselves.

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Final thoughts

Following these steps, you can effectively clean and maintain your tarmac driveway, keeping it looking its best for years. Remember to regularise cleaning as part of your maintenance routine to ensure its longevity and appearance.

Regular cleaning, periodic maintenance checks, and professional seal coating will help preserve the condition of your tarmac driveway, prevent cracks and potholes, and extend its lifespan. Remember to consult manufacturers' instructions, seek professional assistance when needed, and consider local water usage and disposal regulations.

You have your new driveway installed, you now know how to clean and maintain it to avoid unnecessary repairs and additional costs. We offer a wide range of other driveway solutions on our website. Check out our surfaces page to get more information or to contact us with any questions.