Define Tarmac

Learn about the composition, benefits, and uses of tarmac, a versatile and durable road surfacing material. Discover how tarmac is used in airport runways and its prevalence in the United States.

What is Tarmac?

Tarmac, also known as tarmacadam, is a type of road surfacing material made up of a mixture of crushed stones, asphalt, and tar. It is commonly used in the construction of roads, driveways, and other surfaces due to its durability and longevity.

Composition of Tarmac

Tarmac is typically composed of various sizes of aggregate, such as gravel, sand, and stone, mixed with asphalt cement and bitumen. The mixture is then heated and laid on a prepared surface before being compacted and left to cool and harden.

Benefits of Tarmac

  • Durability: Tarmac is known for its strength and resilience, making it ideal for high-traffic areas.
  • Longevity: Tarmac can last for many years with proper maintenance.
  • Cost-Effective: Tarmac is a cost-effective option compared to other surfacing materials.
  • Smooth Surface: Tarmac provides a smooth and even surface for vehicles to drive on.

Case Studies

One example of the use of tarmac is in airport runways. Tarmac is the preferred surfacing material for airport runways due to its ability to withstand heavy aircraft and provide a smooth surface for takeoffs and landings.


According to the Asphalt Pavement Alliance, over 90% of roads in the United States are surfaced with asphalt, with tarmac being a common choice for its durability and cost-effectiveness.

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