Painting a Tarmac Driveway

Updated Jul 1, 2024 | Posted Apr 27, 2021 | Professional insight, Product Advice | 5 comments

As a decorator, I’m often asked whether you can paint tarmac. The answer is yes, with the proper prep and correct tools, painting a tarmac driveway is straightforward and can look absolutely stunning!!

You don’t need to paint tarmac of course. It would still do its job for decades untreated, however the colour does start to fade due to the UV light from the sun. By painting it, you can get that strong dramatic black or red colour back. Not only that, but you’re covering it in something which makes keeping it clean a lot easier to do.


How to Paint a Tarmac Driveway


I’ll take you through the process I take when painting a tarmac driveway. I’ll start by listing everything you need. Then touch on every step briefly. Followed by more detailed steps and my recommendations for the best products.

You can get a professional decorator in to do the work, or even have a crack at it yourself. It’s all quite simple, so don’t be afraid to carry out the work yourself.


Tools and Supplies


Tarmac Paint – Click here to see online prices.

Pressure washer.

Vacuum cleaner.

A long pile roller – Click here to see online prices.

A roller frame – Click here to see online prices.

Paint Scuttle – Click here to see online prices.




Check the Weather Forecast

This may seem obvious, but the weather needs to be good on the day you paint. If it’s wet, then the paint will run. If it’s windy, then bits and dust will blow onto your wet paint and make a mess of it. Choose a good day.


Clean the Driveway

Paint will not adhere to your driveway if it is dirty. If needed, pressure wash the tarmac the day before. Then vacuum the driveway before painting.


Cut in

When you’re happy the tarmac is ready to paint, cut in around the edge of the driveway with a paint brush. Be careful the paint doesn’t pool, otherwise it will be thicker where you’ve applied it via brush than where you apply it via roller. This will result in a defect called ‘picture framing’. You can always go over the cutting in with a mini roller to help avoid this.



Start at one end of the drive and apply the paint with a long-pile roller. Spread it out evenly but move quickly. You will need to keep a wet edge, or it’ll dry patchy.


Preparing your Driveway to Paint


Whatever paint you’re planning to use, it will need to be robust. Adhesion between paint and tarmac is paramount. With this in mind, it is vital you remove as much dirt from your driveway as possible before starting.

Pressure washing the day before is a great idea, as it gives the tarmac a deep clean which then allows your paint to bond to the tarmac, rather than dirt. The next thing is to use a leaf blower to remove any loose debris. If you haven’t got a leaf blower then a strong vacuum cleaner will do just fine.

The other thing to bear in mind is the weather (I know that sounds obvious). You need your driveway to be as dry as possible before you start.

Your paint needs to dry as well, so cold days, or days with a chance of rain are out of the window. The other thing is wind. If there’s any sort of breeze, dirt or leaves will blow onto your paint before it’s dry.


The Best Tarmac Paint


I opt to use Paintmaster Professional Drivemaster in water-based. It is available online by clicking here in red or black. You’ll find it easy to use and very hard-wearing. Two thin coats is all you’ll need. Drying time is approximately 3 hours, but I’d leave it overnight before driving on it. This product is very easy to use.


Painting a Tarmac Driveway


You can apply Drivemaster via brush and roller, or airless sprayer. If using brush and roller, simply cut in around the edge of your drive with a brush and lay off using a mini roller to avoid picture-framing. Once you’ve cut in around the edge, use a larger roller to paint the middle, working the paint into every gap and hole, then spreading it out to avoid pooling. You can dilute the paint quite heavily to help speed things up and improve the finish.


Best Tools to Use When Painting a Tarmac Driveway


Painting a tarmac driveway is easy enough to do, but it will help if you have the correct tools for the job. Any good quality stiff emulsion brush is ideal. I use Purdy Monarch Elite XL, but you could use Arroworthy, Oldfields, Pioneer, anything really. It just needs to hold enough paint and keep its shape. Click here for latest prices on Purdy XL.

As for the roller, you need to keep a wet edge when painting a driveway, so a large roller is preferable. It also needs to be long pile, so it gets paint in all the gaps. Purdy Colossus is easily the best for this type of work. Available online here.

You’ll also need a frame – Available online here.

And a scuttle – Available online here.

can you paint tarmac?
painting a tarmac driveway



Is it worth painting tarmac?

Painting tarmac is brilliant. You don’t realise how much the colour has faded on old tarmac until you start applying the first coat of paint. Then once painted, water runs off more easily and its less hassle to keep clean.

The only downside is the tarmac offers less grip and you will need to repaint it every couple of years.


How long does it take to paint a tarmac driveway?

Painting a tarmac driveway doesn’t take long at all providing you use the right tools to apply the paint. A 12-inch-long pile paint roller and a good quality stiff paintbrush is all you need.


How long does tarmac paint last?

Tarmac paint lasts between 2 and 5 years. Just make sure you get your prep right before you start, otherwise it will fail sooner. Painting a tarmac driveway is quick and easy, but if you decide to go ahead, bear in mind it’s a job you will need to keep on top of as part of your property maintenance.


Final Thoughts


I told you painting a driveway was straightforward. The colour difference is amazing too. It ends up looking like a brand-new driveway. Once painted, it tends to stay cleaner. Rainwater just runs off. The only real  downside is a painted driveway is slightly more slippery, but unless you live on a hill, you won’t really notice it.

Updated Jul 1, 2024 | Posted Apr 27, 2021 | 5 comments

About the Author

About the Author

Mike Cupit has been in the decorating industry since 2002 and has mostly worked as a Trade Decorator in the domestic sector (peoples’ homes). Self-proclaimed “product geek”, Mike has a passion for paint and decorating tools. Mike now spends most of his time testing paint products and tools, comparing them to similar products on the market, and blogging about the industry in general.
How to Paint Coving – A Complete Guide

How to Paint Coving – A Complete Guide

In this blog, I’m going to explain everything you need to know about how to paint coving, including a few product recommendations. Coving is one of those decorative features which never really goes out of fashion.  I’ve completely lost count of how many rooms with...


  1. Usama

    Very informative article

  2. Sabina Falcone Healy

    Hi im looking for someone that is able to paint a black tarmac drive way in another colour ?

  3. Nicola

    If you are wanting to paint a driveway but there has been oil spilled on it from a van, can you advise the best way to go about cleaning the oil off before you prep the drive for painting please?

  4. Karen

    Did you add silver sand to the paint or is it ok without? Is it best to stick with the same colour or can a Black/Grey drive be painted Red?

  5. Michael

    Can I paint black tarmac red ??


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *