WRITTEN BY: Eddie Reyes
Never underestimate the importance of a well-planned driveway. Done right, it should be wide enough to navigate, strong enough to withstand occasional delivery trucks, and graded so water slides off like rain from a roof. A good driveway also compliments the house and is a pleasure to walk on. Start by planning the route from the road to the garage thoughtfully. A curve or two takes up more land but lends grace. Drives should be at least 10 to 12 feet wide at straight runs and 14 feet wide at curves. If the drive is long, provide a 12-by-18-foot (or larger) space at the top for turning around; this can double as guest parking. Prevent puddling by angling the paved surface slightly downhill. Or create a crown: The center of the drive is built up so water flows down the sides into the soil or drainage channels. A drive that’s too steep is slippery and dangerous. Never exceed a rise of 15 feet per 100 feet of distance (a slope of 15 percent). Lastly, material should fit the character of the house and the landscape depending on where you live.
When it comes to choices in driveway materials, it’s clear that plain, gray concrete isn’t always first. Now, homeowners are matching their driveways to their homes. Pavers, bricks natural stone, rocks, staining and stamping are some of the most popular finishes.
Decorative driveways have become a standard feature in upscale Valley homes. More people also are choosing them when upgrading concrete driveways of older homes. Charming and eye-catching, these driveways often resemble the cobblestone streets of Europe. They also lend a sense of permanence to the Valley’s newly built neighborhoods and homes, giving them a graceful patina that usually comes only with age.
A popular alternative to plain concrete, these pavers come in a variety of colors, sizes and shapes. They’re also an inexpensive option, costing $2 to $4 per paver uninstalled and $5.50 to $8 installed, and can easily be installed by homeowners or professionals.
Ordinary concrete driveways require several days of curing time; pavers can be used right away. Keep in mind steep grades and borders increase the installation cost.
Pavers generally don’t crack or chip, and if they get stained with oil, they can be popped out and replaced. If pavers are sealed, the sealant needs to be reapplied every seven years or so.
Poured concrete can be stamped in a any design imaginable from pavers, to shells, to wood planks, or any pattern you can think of. The concrete used in this process is a bit thinner than normal concrete. Standard concrete usually has some large stones in it, but for proper stamping, the concrete is filtered to be much smoother. Consistency is an ever-important factor with concrete stamping of shapes and sizes. Stiff concrete isn’t soft enough to mold, but weak concrete doesn’t hold its shape . When it’s mixed and cured correctly, stamped concrete is a relatively simple and inexpensive way to surface you driveway.
These stones can be assembled in a variety of patterns and are available tumbled or not tumbled. Tumbling removes sharp edges and gives the pavers an aged look. When installed, pavers usually are set into a compacted aggregate base that is topped with sand. They can be sealed, a process that enhances the color. Some companies even sells pavers reclaimed from Mexican and Israeli streets.
This concrete product is made to look like stone. Other companies search for ancient and antique stone from renovated sites in Europe. Exquisite pieces are selected for reproduction and molds are created from the original. The finished product is virtually indistinguishable from original stone. Then these interlocking driveway stones are modeled after 16th-century cobblestones found in Provence, France.
Rock & Gravel
Large driveways are much cheaper to outfit in gravel than any other material, though you do have to top-dress every couple of years to keep gravel looking nice. They are also much easier to maintain by simply adding gravel periodically is much quicker than sealing an asphalt driveway and doesn’t require special tools. Its permeable, and when gravel is installed properly, rainwater will penetrate directly into the earth, replenishing groundwater.
Another method for changing the appearance of your driveway is by coloring the concrete through chemical stains. They penetrate the concrete surface to create beautiful color tones in concrete. Stains react directly with the concrete’s minerals and produce uneven, mottled, and variegated color effects.
Chemical stains can be used for both interior and exterior applications and are often used on concrete that has already been colored integrally or with the dry shake method.
So there you have it, the possibilities for your driveway are only limited by imagination or in some cases your bank account. Considering that your driveway is usually your guests and families first point of contact to your home and property, I think its only deserved that you give that old, cracked, oil stained, gray slab a second look.