Yes, the tarmac is actually paved with asphalt. There is no paving material called tarmac.  Construction and paving companies will sometimes use the two words interchangeably, whether they are talking about airports or any other paving project. Visit this link for more information.


People sometimes think asphalt is the same as coal tar because it looks alike and seems to act alike.

But coal tar does not come from the distillation of petroleum; it comes from the distillation of coal.  In the mid-1900s, coal was used extensively to produce heating gas, which left behind lots of coal tar.  This coal tar was mixed with stones and sand to pave roads. Read about Where Does Asphalt Come From here. 

There were roads called macadam roads at the time because they were designed by a man named McAdam.  So, the tar and the macadam turned into tarmac.  Many asphalt paving companies will use the word tarmac when talking about asphalt concrete which has no tar in it. 

Tarmac is Asphalt

When homeowners and business people need paving work done, they must clarify with the paving contractor what they need.  A good paving contractor will explain what the asphalt is made of and the properties of that particular mixture.  They will give you the right asphalt for your job.