Friday, May 16, 2014

So You Want a Decorative Concrete Driveway?

So I hear that you have been dreaming of replacing that old, crumbling driveway of yours. Of course, concrete is the only way to go - you want to do it right, if you are going to spend the money, right? Concrete would be great, but plain elephant concrete just doesn't appeal to you. You want your place to stand out in the crowd. Make it part of the curb appeal. One up your neighbor, maybe? What are the options that can still fit into the budget, you wonder... I am so glad you asked!  The excellent staff at Yoder Concrete Construction, LLC in West Liberty, Ohio are here to help!
A welcoming entrance to your home

Let's talk concrete...Do you want to start fancy or plain? Plain? Ok, let's begin at the beginning with plain old concrete. Regular concrete, delivered by the ready mix plant, will generally be a gray to white color placed with a broom finish and often edged along the sides to give it a smooth finished look.  Control joints, most often placed as saw cuts, are strategically placed where the contractor believes cracking could occur. (Their purpose is to guide the crack to follow that cut. Then you never even know your concrete cracked.  It is hidden in the cut! Cracks don't always obey, so don't be angry with your contractor if a crack decides to take a different route.)

Ok, how can we dress up this plain Jane concrete?  What if we add a few extra saw cuts to give some pattern to your concrete.  Who said you only have to have two or three cuts?  What if you add a diamond pattern to your driveway?  Or maybe a curved pattern like this homeowner wanted.  
Regular concrete with decorative saw cuts

 One step up would be to add integral color to the concrete. The color is added at the ready mix plant and mixed in the large drum while traveling from the plant to your home or business. Color options include grays, tans, browns, terra cotta, reds, and even green. You can keep the broom finish for a less expensive finish (less labor) but still add an upscale touch. Add some decorative saw cuts and you really having something going!

Regular concrete with a keystone stenciled border and apron
Integral color, stenciled border and diamond saw cuts
Another option would be to add a decorative border or ribbons. The less expensive option would be to stamp a brick, slate or stone border around the outside edges of the driveway without adding color or adding just a highlighting release color. My preference would be to add a contrasting color to the border to make it really stand out.  A stenciled brick border is a great option, offered in four different styles (herringbone being my favorite) or there are bushrock, keystone (another favorite) or an 18" flagstone border which is great for that wider driveway.  Color hardener and a release color are added on the stencil to give a great vibrant color contrast to your regular concrete driveway.  "Ribbons" are the same as borders only they are placed horizontally across the driveway, often placed where a control joint would be cut.

Stamped patio with a stenciled border and Compass inlay
Shown next is an inlay that can spice up an otherwise basic look. Decorative inlays are stencils and come in a variety of sizes and can be round or diamond shaped.  The "Compass" is a great addition to the middle of your driveway or patio and makes a great conversation piece.  Just make sure your contractor knows which way is north before they lay the stencil down!  (That is a mistake a contractor will only make once and never forget - yes, we're talking from experience.)

Your next option would be to add a pattern and color to the entire concrete surface.  This could be stamped or stenciled with your base color (either integral or using color hardener) and using a release agent with color creating a contrasting and more realistic look to the pattern.  A variety of patterns and colors are available. Our friends at Deco-Crete Supply  in Columbus and Orville, Ohio have a great website to view photos of decorative concrete, and you can even find their catalog of stamps available. We, at Yoder Concrete Construction, have many of these patterns as well, and all of Deco-Crete's are available for us to use.  

Stamped patio with brick stenciled border
Use your creativity and imagination to add any of these elements to your design. Thrown in a border and inlay to a stamped patio. I would encourage you to browse online for ideas and then call your contractor to get a detailed proposal of how he or she can create your dream project. If you are in the Urbana/Bellefontaine area, be sure to visit our outdoor showroom of decorative concrete samples. We have over 100 options for you to see and touch. What better way to make a "concrete" decision for your project! (Pun intended.) 
8874 N US Hwy 68, West Liberty, OH

If we can be of assistance, let us know! We'd be glad to help in the planning and placement of your next concrete project.