Kane Construction

How Long Does Tarmac Take to Set?

tarmac surfacing

Whether you’re repairing a driveway, constructing a road or a car park, or enhancing the appearance of your property, tarmac is a popular choice due to its durability and smooth finish. However, one common question that arises during tarmac installation is: “How long does tarmac take to set?” In this blog, we’ll delve into the factors that influence tarmac setting times, the different stages of the curing process, and tips for ensuring a successful and long-lasting tarmac surface

Understanding Tarmac Setting Times

Tarmac is composed of aggregates (such as crushed stone and sand) mixed with a binder (bitumen). After being laid and compacted, the tarmac undergoes a curing process during which it transforms from a pliable state into a solid, durable surface. The setting time of tarmac can vary widely based on several factors, including weather conditions, temperature, humidity, and the type of binder used.

Stages of Tarmac Curing

Initial Setting 

The initial setting of tarmac occurs relatively quickly, usually within a few hours after installation. During this stage, the surface becomes firm enough to support light foot traffic. However, it’s crucial to avoid placing heavy loads or vehicles on the tarmac during this early phase to prevent indentations. 

Intermediate Setting

The tarmac continues to gain strength over the next few days. During the intermediate setting stage, the surface becomes more resistant to deformation, and light vehicular traffic may be allowed. However, caution is still required to prevent damage to the developing surface. 

Full Curing

Achieving full curing can take several weeks, and the exact duration depends on the aforementioned factors. The tarmac becomes hard and durable, capable of withstanding regular vehicular traffic and environmental stresses. 

Factors Influencing Tarmac Setting Times

Temperature – Warm weather accelerates the tarmac setting process, while colder temperatures can slow it down. Tarmac professionals often scheduled installations during warmer months to take advantage of faster curing times. 

Humidity – Higher humidity levels can help maintain the necessary moisture for tarmac curing, aiding in the development of a stronger surface,

Binder Type – The type of bitumen binder used in the tarmac mixture can impact setting times. Different binders have varying viscosities and curing rates, which affect how quickly the tarmac hardens. 

Thickness of Layers – Thicker layers of tarmac take longer to cure completely than thinner layers. 

Tips for Ensuring Successful Tarmac Installation 

Plan According to Weather – Schedule tarmac installations during warmer, drier periods to promote quicker and more even curing.

Limit Traffic – Avoid heavy loads and vehicular traffic on the tarmac during the initial and intermediate setting stages to prevent premature damage. 

Proper Compaction – Ensure thorough and proper compaction of the tarmac during installation. Adequate compaction contributes to the surface’s strength and longevity. 

Sealcoating – Applying a seal coat to the tarmac after full curing enhances its durability, appearance, and resistance to water and UV damage. 


In the world of construction and property enhancement, tarmac stands as a reliable and versatile choice. The question of “How long does tarmac take to set?” is pivotal for a successful installation and long-lasting results. Understanding the stages of tarmac curing, the factors influencing setting times, and following the recommended tips can help you make informed decisions and achieve the best possible outcome for your tarmac project. Whether it’s a driveway, a parking lot, a playground, or a road, a well-installed and properly cured tarmac surface can provide years of reliable service and aesthetic appeal.