Concrete Driveway Ideas, Options & Contractors - Concrete Network (2023)

Tips and design options for a durable, low-maintenance concrete driveway that boosts the curb appeal of your home

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It wasn't long ago when deciding on a driveway material was easy: asphalt or concrete. Today, the "concrete" choice has expanded to include an astounding array of decorative options. Sometimes referred to as a cement driveway or as painted concrete, decorative concrete is one of the most reasonable ways to spruce up the entrance to your home.

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Although plain gray concrete is still installed most often, more people are catching on to the dazzling effects possible with decorative concrete—and seeing the instant curb appeal a decorative driveway can give to any home, no matter what the style (see Which Decorative Concrete Style Is Right for Your Home?).

If you already have a concrete driveway, you can still give it a decorative makeover. The concrete industry has introduced many products and methods that can rejuvenate or resurface existing plain-gray driveways.

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Concrete Driveways - Staining and Sawcutting Ideas
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Of course, to ensure that your concrete driveway will look good for many years to come, there are important steps your driveway contractor should follow during installation. How well your driveway looks and performs long-term is largely related to the quality of workmanship and materials that go into it. To help ensure a problem-free driveway, be sure to read our overview of driveway construction basics.

Once you become the proud owner of a concrete driveway, it won't take much effort on your part to keep it looking its best for many years to come. Read our tips on how to care for and maintain a concrete driveway.

COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT CONCRETE DRIVEWAYS

How do I find the right contractor to install my driveway?

Start your search right here by using the Concrete Network's Find a Concrete Contractor locator. You can search by zip code or state for contractors in your area that install new concrete driveways or resurface existing driveways.

Other ways to hunt down a contractor:

(Video) Colored Concrete Driveways - ConcreteNetwork.com

  • Look at decorative concrete driveways in your neighborhood and get the names of the contractors who installed the driveways that appeal to you most. Be sure to ask the homeowners about their experience with the contractor and the quality of the workmanship.
  • Get references from friends, homebuilders or local ready-mix suppliers.
  • Get names through your local Yellow Pages.

Once you come up with a list of contractors, be sure to ask for references and get a list of projects in your area that you can check out. Also ask how long the contractor has been in business, if they're insured, whether they have any professional certifications, and if they offer a warranty for their work. Read our 8 Tips for Hiring a Concrete Contractor for Exterior Work.

Do I need to seal my new concrete driveway?

You should apply a high-quality sealer to all exterior concrete slabs exposed to freeze-thaw conditions. The sealer helps protect the concrete from moisture absorption, exposure to chemicals, and grease and oil stains. On decorative colored concrete, a sealer will also help enhance the color (see Why Seal Decorative Concrete).

Generally, there are two categories of sealers for exterior concrete: film-formers and penetrants. Penetrating sealers tend to offer the best protection from moisture absorption. Regardless of the sealer you use, be sure it's applied according to the manufacturer's instructions.

What if the driveway cracks?

If your concrete was jointed properly, cracks are unlikely to be a problem. Think of joints as "planned" cracks that allow the concrete to expand and contract, minimizing any chance for random cracking.

Although joints will control cracking in most cases, even properly jointed concrete can crack in places other than the joints. Most of these random cracks are simply unplanned joints and won't impact the long-term service and durability of your driveway. But they can detract from the appearance. If you're concerned about random cracking, ask your contractor what measures he will take to prevent it and what his policy is about fixing any random cracking that does occur.

Ozark Patterned Concrete, Inc. in Lowell, AR.

What if the color isn't what I expected?

It's unrealistic to expect your contractor to precisely match the color of your concrete driveway to a showroom sample, a neighbor's decorative concrete driveway, or a photo from a brochure. Even plain concrete can exhibit color variations, especially if the project requires more than one load of concrete or if the concrete placements are made on different days. Most of these variations are minor and will fade over time.

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What is the cost of a stamped concrete driveway?

Your initial cost to install a stamped concrete driveway can range anywhere from $6 per square foot for basic stamped concrete (using just one pattern and color) to $15 or more per square foot for elaborate multi-pattern designs with special coloring effects (see Stamped Concrete Driveway Cost). While stamped concrete is pricier than asphalt, you'll get a much better return on your investment. Not only does a concrete driveway last longer and require less maintenance than most other paving materials, it can help boost the resale value of your home by adding curb appeal.

Read more about concrete driveway cost.

Can I get a warranty for my concrete driveway?

Yes! Many contractors will warrant their work, and you may be able to obtain an extended warranty (three years or longer) through your state concrete association, such as the Six Star Driveway Program available from the Michigan Concrete Association. Contractors and concrete producers who participate in the program agree to follow certain installation criteria and quality-control standards and will correct-for the duration of the warranty-any problems that occur due to their negligence.

GOING GREEN WITH CONCRETE DRIVEWAYS

Gkrete, Inc in Austin, TX

Few driveway paving materials can match concrete when it comes to sustainability and conserving the environment. Below are some of the top reasons why.

They are made with renewable resources.

Unlike asphalt pavements that are made with nonrenewable petroleum supplies, concrete pavements are made from abundant, sustainable resources including water, natural rock and sand, and cement. The predominant raw material for the cement in concrete is limestone, the most abundant mineral on earth.

They can utilize recycled and waste materials.

Your ready-mix supplier can also make the concrete for your driveway using waste byproducts, which reduces the consumption of raw materials and keeps waste out of landfills. Fly ash, ground blast furnace slag and silica fume-all byproducts from power plants, steel mills and other industrial processes-are commonly used as partial cement replacements. You can also use recycled aggregates in the concrete mix and reinforcing steel that has a high recycled content.

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They save energy by reflecting light.

Concrete is naturally brighter and more reflective than asphalt, saving energy by reducing the need for lighting at night. Up to 27% of light falling on a concrete surface will be reflected, compared with as little as 5% of light from asphalt pavements, according to the American Concrete Pavement Association. In addition, light-colored paving materials help reduce the heat-island effect in urban areas.

They last longer.

A properly installed concrete driveway should last for many decades-and at least two or three times longer than an asphalt driveway. Because concrete driveways don't need to be replaced or resurfaced as often, fewer raw materials are consumed over the life of the pavement.

They can be recycled at the end of their service life.

If your concrete driveway ever needs to be replaced, it can be crushed and recycled at the end of its service life. The material from your recycled driveway can then be used as granular fill, as a base course for a new pavement, or as aggregate in new concrete. (See Recycling Concrete.)

FAQs

What is the best concrete driveway? ›

The best concrete mix for driveways is at least 3500 psi compressive strength and 5-6 inches thick over compacted gravel and earth with a water to cement ratio of . 50 and aggregate less than an inch.

What is the most cost effective driveway? ›

Of the four paving materials described in this guide, aggregate (gravel) is the least expensive, followed by asphalt, concrete, and paving stones. If you're installing your driveway on a shoestring budget, gravel is your best choice. If you have more wiggle room, you'll have more choice.

What is the most popular driveway surface? ›

Concrete Driveways

Concrete is the most popular driveway material, and for good reason. Durable and low-maintenance, you won't have to give much thought to a concrete driveway.

What is the best thickness for a concrete driveway? ›

As for thickness, non-reinforced pavement four inches thick is standard for passenger car driveways. For heavier vehicles, a thickness of five inches is recommended. To eliminate standing water, the driveway should be sloped towards the street a minimum of one percent, or 1/8 inch per foot, for proper drainage.

What is the most low maintenance driveway? ›

Low-Maintenance Driveway Options
  1. Paving Stones. Paving stones are known to last up to a full century if properly laid. ...
  2. Concrete Grass Pavers. An interlocking concrete grass paver driveway made may be an option for your driveway. ...
  3. Plastic Permeable Pavers.

What is the longest lasting driveway? ›

Concrete. Concrete is the old standby for driveways. Most suburban homes opt for this material for two big reasons: Concrete is typically the longest-lasting driveway surface, and, if installed properly, it is practically maintenance-free.

How can I save money on my concrete driveway? ›

Use Local Concrete

Asphalt is a less expensive paving product, but you can also purchase concrete mixes that are cheaper than the popular Portland cement. Compare prices for self-compacting, pump and sprayed concrete reinforced with fiber, or opt for mortar if that's the least expensive driveway material in your area.

What is the hardest wearing driveway? ›

Concrete is a hard-wearing, long-lasting driveway materials choice and can be finished in a surprising number of ways, as the poured variety can be stamped with patterns. Concrete has a very long lifespan of four decades or more.

Is it cheaper to pave or concrete a driveway? ›

The cost of an asphalt driveway is typically cheaper than concrete, costing $2.00 to $4.00 per square foot. Asphalt prices tend to fluctuate with fluctuations in crude oil prices. In contrast, a concrete driveway costs between $4.00 and $6.00 per square foot for a standard installation.

What is the best Colour for a driveway? ›

Shades of brown, tan, sandy beige and other earth-tones are by far the most popular color choices for concrete driveways because they blend in well with the landscape and complement most home exteriors. In addition, darker earth-toned shades hide dirt, tire marks and stains, making the driveway easier to maintain.

What is the best width for a driveway? ›

How Wide Are Residential Driveways? Primarily, most professionals recommend that you install a 10 feet to 12 feet wide driveway. The standard driveway width for an SUV or conventional pickup truck is 10 feet. Anything less than 10' wide will likely present difficulties for drivers, even in smaller vehicles.

What is the least slippery driveway? ›

Resin-bound Gravel

Resin bound gravel is the best slip-resistant solution for your driveway. Since it has a roughened surface it provides more grip compared to other types of surfaces, like tiles or bricks, which can become very slippery especially when wet.

Do I need rebar in concrete driveway? ›

This strength is crucial for things like buildings, roads and driveways. Rebar is not necessary for every concrete project. The general rule of thumb is that if you are pouring concrete that is more than 5 inches in depth, you are probably going to want to add in some rebar to help reinforce the entire structure.

Do you need rebar for 4 inch slab? ›

No, you do not need rebar for a 4-inch slab of concrete on grade. A 4-inch-thick slab cast on the ground and in permanent contact with it will float and rebar is not required. Rebar is recommended on concrete measuring 5 – 6 inches thick.

Is wire mesh necessary in concrete driveway? ›

When it comes to concrete, you can't avoid cracks entirely, but wire mesh reinforcement will help hold the material together when they do occur. Also, it will help evenly distribute the weight of cars on your driveway. The added strength of steel is especially crucial if your subgrade isn't up to par.

What is best base for a new driveway? ›

The secret to having the best asphalt driveway is by having a solid base. Using quality crushed gravel as a base to your blacktop will surely give you the perfect driveway quality that will last for a very long time.

What is the best driveway for no weeds? ›

Imprinted concrete driveways require very little maintenance and a huge advantage of this material is that you're very very unlikely to get any weeds growing through, compared with something like block paving.

What is the life expectancy of a driveway? ›

A brand new driveway installed right after a home is built on soft clay or loamy soil may last for about 18 years. On the other hand, a replacement driveway installed on a firm sandy property could last up to 35 years. The difference comes from both the type of soil and what happens to that soil over time.

What time of the year is best to redo driveway? ›

The best time of year to pave asphalt is during the spring and summer months because the best temperature for hot paving is generally 70 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. It's possible to lay asphalt at temperatures as low as 50 degrees, but doing so isn't likely to bring about the best results possible.

What is the most expensive driveway material? ›

Generally, gravel is the cheapest material, with resin and concrete being the most expensive.

How long does a concrete driveway need to cure before driving on it? ›

When can I drive on a new concrete driveway? Typically, you'll be able to drive and park on a new concrete driveway seven days after placement. By that time, your concrete will have attained about 70% of its potential strength.

Is it cheaper to mix your own concrete or have it delivered? ›

It depends on the size of your project. If all you're doing is pouring a pad for a set of outdoor steps or pier footings for a deck, it's cheaper to diy. If you're pouring a house foundation or slab for a garage, then have it delivered.

Do concrete driveways add value to a home? ›

A [concrete] driveway can increase your property's value between 5 and 10 percent” says Fast Sales Homes. That means “a $500,000 home can increase to a $550,000 home.” On average, a new 2-car concrete driveway costs anywhere from $3-$6,000, which makes this type of an investment pretty significant.

How much should I budget for a concrete slab? ›

Cost of a Concrete Slab

Concrete is fairly inexpensive when compared with other materials like stone or brick. Expect to pay a base cost of around $6 per square foot for the material itself, or within a range of $4 to $8 per square foot depending on factors like labor and concrete thickness.

Should concrete driveway be higher than lawn? ›

Ideally, the edges of a driveway should be level with the lawn. Installing edging or a border protects both the driveway and the lawn.

How much does it cost to pour a 24x24 slab of concrete? ›

Based on an average cost of $4 to $8 per square foot, a 24×24 slab may cost $2,304 to $4,608. However, those estimates include material, labor, and a six-inch slab. If you want a more accurate estimate, use the following guide to explore the costs of a 24×24 concrete slab.

Is there a difference between concrete and cement? ›

What is the difference between cement and concrete? Although the terms cement and concrete often are used interchangeably, cement is actually an ingredient of concrete. Concrete is a mixture of aggregates and paste. The aggregates are sand and gravel or crushed stone; the paste is water and portland cement.

Is it cheaper to pour concrete or asphalt? ›

Typical installation costs for a new asphalt driveway run about $2 to $4 per square foot, although prices can go higher depending on crude oil prices. In contrast, the cost to install a plain no-frills concrete driveway is about $5 to $7 per square foot.

What is the most popular concrete color? ›

Earth tones that mimic natural materials are the most popular concrete colors among homeowners. But you can also color concrete blue, orange, green, black or other colors. Plus, many concrete contractors can blend custom colors exactly to your liking.

Is it better to paint or stain concrete driveway? ›

Concrete paint coats the surface with a thin film that forms on the surface. This traps moisture which damages concrete over time. Stain, however, colors the porous concrete surface without sealing it. This enables the free flow of moisture into and out of the surface.

How wide should driveway be for 2 cars? ›

Double car driveways can be between 20 and 24 feet wide.

A driveway width of 20 feet provides enough space for two cars to pass, but not quite enough room for parking side-by-side and opening doors. If you need space for parking two cars, consider making your driveway 24 feet wide.

What should the pitch of a driveway be? ›

What is the Ideal Driveway Finish? Ideally, the driveway should grade away from the garage at a 2 to 5 percent pitch. Two percent calculates to one-quarter inch per foot.

What is the gravel that hardens like concrete? ›

Decomposed granite is a type of gravel made from 100% pulverized granite. This type of gravel is ground into fine particles and will pack together to form a gravel that hardens like concrete when compacted.

What makes the best driveway? ›

Concrete is perhaps the most durable and versatile driveway options. Concrete provides a smooth, stable and secure foundation that holds up well in most climate and requires minimal maintenance.

What is imprinted concrete driveway? ›

What is Pattern Imprinted Concrete? Pattern imprinted concrete – or stamped concrete – driveways are a relative newcomer to the scene. Instead of using individual blocks to create your finished surface, a layer of concrete is poured on a suitable sub-base. A colour is then applied, as well as a colour hardener.

Do you need gravel under concrete? ›

You do need gravel under a concrete slab, footing, or patio. Gravel provides a solid foundation for your concrete as it can be compacted. It also improves drainage, preventing water from pooling beneath the concrete.

Can I pour concrete directly on dirt? ›

Long story short, yes you can pour concrete over dirt.

How much weight will a 4 inch concrete driveway support? ›

Concrete driveways are typically poured four inches thick, giving the concrete driveway enough strength to withstand loads of regular vehicles (up to approximately 8,000lbs).

Can I use chicken wire to reinforce concrete? ›

Chicken wire or wire mesh can be safely used as a reinforcement in concrete when the concrete is not used in structural or high-weight areas. The wire mesh or chicken wire can add stretching strength that concrete does not have, giving the concrete rigidity when facing specific pressures.

How big can a concrete slab be without expansion joints? ›

Expansion joints need to be installed 2 to 3 times in feet the thickness of a concrete slab in inches. So if your slab is 4 inches thick, the slab can be 8 to 12 feet long or wide without requiring an expansion joint. Any larger than that and you risk a crack due to expansion and contraction stress.

Is wire mesh better than rebar? ›

Rebar can be stronger but might be considered overkill for projects While rebar is often stronger than wire mesh, you might find that the level of strength provided by rebar is overkill for most projects. Heavy-duty wire mesh can offer the required level of durability while limiting your costs considerably.

What is the best thickness for a concrete driveway? ›

As for thickness, non-reinforced pavement four inches thick is standard for passenger car driveways. For heavier vehicles, a thickness of five inches is recommended. To eliminate standing water, the driveway should be sloped towards the street a minimum of one percent, or 1/8 inch per foot, for proper drainage.

How thick should a reinforced concrete driveway be? ›

Placing concrete at the proper thickness

Place concrete at a minimum thickness of 4 inches. Increasing the thickness from 4 inches to 5 inches will add approximately 20% to your concrete cost, but will also boost your driveway's load-carrying capacity nearly 50% , according to the Tennessee Concrete Association.

Is fiber in concrete better than rebar? ›

Fibre Mesh Concrete vs Rebar

Generally, fiber concrete is easy to work with and makes for easy placement compared to steel-reinforced concrete. It also saves time and space on site since there won't be piles of steel mesh stored on-site and no time-consuming set-up of this mesh.

What is the most durable concrete? ›

A straight cement mix often is preferred to provide the most durable surface. Replacing a portion of the cement with fly ash has become popular and certainly is useful in many applications. It is important to note that you may not get as dense a surface when fly ash is used as a cement replacement in the mix.

What is the hardest wearing driveway? ›

Concrete is a hard-wearing, long-lasting driveway materials choice and can be finished in a surprising number of ways, as the poured variety can be stamped with patterns. Concrete has a very long lifespan of four decades or more.

How many years does a concrete driveway last? ›

The average life of your concrete driveway will depend on installation methods, environmental conditions and temperatures. However, you can expect your surface to last anywhere from 25 to 30 years with proper care. The key to prolonging the life of your investment is to pay attention to wear and tear each season.

What is the biggest disadvantage of concrete? ›

Disadvantages of Concrete
  • Compared to other binding materials, the tensile strength of concrete is relatively low.
  • Concrete is less ductile.
  • The weight of compared is high compared to its strength.
  • Concrete may contains soluble salts. Soluble salts cause efflorescence.

What are the 4 types of concrete? ›

Let's take a quick look at the most common types of concrete and what they are used for:
  • Reinforced Concrete.
  • Lightweight Concrete.
  • High-Strength Concrete.
  • High-Performance Concrete.
  • Precast Concrete.
6 Sept 2019

Should concrete driveway be higher than lawn? ›

Ideally, the edges of a driveway should be level with the lawn. Installing edging or a border protects both the driveway and the lawn.

Is it cheaper to pave or concrete a driveway? ›

The cost of an asphalt driveway is typically cheaper than concrete, costing $2.00 to $4.00 per square foot. Asphalt prices tend to fluctuate with fluctuations in crude oil prices. In contrast, a concrete driveway costs between $4.00 and $6.00 per square foot for a standard installation.

Does concrete driveway add value to house? ›

A [concrete] driveway can increase your property's value between 5 and 10 percent” says Fast Sales Homes. That means “a $500,000 home can increase to a $550,000 home.” On average, a new 2-car concrete driveway costs anywhere from $3-$6,000, which makes this type of an investment pretty significant.

Are concrete driveways worth it? ›

The price to install a concrete driveway is more competitive than other materials like interlock pavers. Concrete requires virtually low to no maintenance, which saves both time and money in the long run. It can last over 20 years and weeds will not grow on the paved area.

How deep should a driveway base be? ›

How deep should my gravel driveway be? If using 20mm gravel, we recommend a depth of at least 5cm or 50mm for the gravel layer, and a depth of at least 15cm or 150mm for an MOT Type 1 sub-base. Therefore, a gravel driveway should be at least 20cm or 200mm deep, including the sub-base.

What is the gravel that hardens like concrete? ›

Decomposed granite is a type of gravel made from 100% pulverized granite. This type of gravel is ground into fine particles and will pack together to form a gravel that hardens like concrete when compacted.

How much does a concrete driveway base cost? ›

Depending on what the driveway will be used for, the base may need to be 4 to 12 inches. Ideally, 6 inches of crushed stone or gravel should be used for most driveways. Proper application requires that the driveway hole be dug out, and the soil has to be prepared.

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