Macadam driveways refer not to the material, which is commonly just aggregate layers of stone and a binding agent, but the method, or type, of construction. It was first used by a Scotsman, John Loudon McAdam (where it gets its name), in the early 1820s, and has since been commonly used throughout the United States and Europe in road construction. Macadam driveways are commonly referred to as “tar and chip” driveways, though this nomenclature is relatively new.
The macadam process of construction is now rarely used on public roads, replaced by asphalt and concrete, but many homeowners still pine for the distinctive texture and appearance of macadam. It is valued for its appearance, relatively low maintenance requirements, and its cost: it is slightly cheaper than asphalt to install.
The installation process is fairly simple: a level foundation is created, over which gravel is spread. Upon the gravel, hot tar is placed, which acts as a sticking agent on which stones are tossed. A steamroller or heavy compressor is then used to pack the stones in place and ensure they do not jut out, thereby keeping the driveway plane level.
Macadam driveways, like asphalt, are relatively easy to maintain. They do not require the use of sealants, are inexpensive, easy to install and are long lasting, even in colder climates. Furthermore, their surface provides excellent traction, even in the rain.
It is, however, extremely difficult to find contractors experienced in the macadam method of driveway construction. It is very important to find an experienced contractor for this particular driveway installation, as a poorly installed macadam driveway will be uneven, which can create problems such as decreased durability. When probably installed and maintained, however, macadam driveways add beauty and practicality to any home.
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