Choosing Stamped Concrete for Your Driveway

Posted by Woodrow Aames ~ September 20, 2010

Patterned or stamped concrete is a great way to personalize your driveway and set it apart from the lookalike entries on your block. You can spend a lot on stamped concrete, but much less than for natural stone. Some homeowners choose to use it as the top section of the drive or just for the walkway to the front door. Because of its distinguished appearance, patterned concrete can add value and curb appeal.

Cheaper than the slate, brick, or cobblestone, it resembles stamped concrete floors, which can give you some great ideas. The drive can be coordinated with landscaping, tile, and home sidings. Concrete Network has an online visual design gallery that presents random interlocking patterns, embossed skins, fan patterns, slate, and planks.

Explore a Wide Variety of Concrete Styles and Patterns

Manufacturers offer stamped patterns with surface textures that have sharp or rounded corners, naturally worn surfaces, saw-cut panels, irregular edges, or deliberate fractures. Or, you can choose from stencils (approximately $350 roll) that create flatter profiles than stamped concrete. However, the die-cut process the manufacture stencils can result in an obvious replication of patterns when laid across a wide surface area.

For those who prefer simple styles, there are broom finishes that your contractor can apply to add minimal texture and traction for wet weather. Or you may prefer a rock-salt finish, where your contractor uses the salt to create random indentations in the curing concrete, resulting in visual relief in the surface. Your options are exceptional. Some homeowners even use patio blocks to build their driveways.

Know Your Concrete

According to Titan America, concrete is an admixture of sand, crushed stone, chips of shale, and other natural materials that are combined with Portland cement. The admixtures lend strength and durability to the cement while creating small pockets of air to allow the driveway to withstand changes caused by extreme heat or cold. The air bubbles make up between five and seven percent of the entire driveway.

Concrete's strength is measured in pounds-per-square inch (psi). For colder climates, you need a higher psi for the concrete's durability and performance. If you're evaluating contractors, start by looking at listings for "flatwork contractors"--driveway specialists, as opposed to foundation contractors.

Get at least three bids and ensure each prospect bids on the same items required for the job--creating the sub-grade, building the forms, arranging the pump trucks, and applying any textures or patterns you need. Be sure that the contractor provides the right design for proper drainage!

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