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  • A decorative overlay engraved with a circular tree motif greets visitors at the entrance of this wooded estate in Lynchburg, Va. The same tree motif was duplicated at the opposite end of the driveway, by the garage doors.
  • The outline for intricate tree design was drawn and engraved by hand and then filled in with a walnut-tinted sealer.
  • By the driveway entrance, tape was used to create a random stone pattern. The faux stones were then colored with a blend of powdered concrete pigments to create the realistic coloring effects.
  • The driveway’s decorative border features the same random stone pattern. The main driveway is covered with an Adobe-colored overlay, with a non-skid additive mixed into the sealer for added traction.

The first tree you encounter upon approaching this wooded estate in Lynchburg, Va., is not part of the surrounding landscape. Instead, it’s the beautiful tree you see engraved in the home’s long, winding concrete driveway, and one that you’ll find in full leaf year-round.

This grand entrance to a house in the woods didn't always look as grand as it does today. The contractor who originally installed the concrete had applied a colored stain to the surface to improve the appearance, but within a year the stain began to flake away. Even more troublesome was how slick the driveway surface had become, causing vehicle tires to spin every time it rained.

"We were contacted by the homeowner to show them possible remedies to fix these issues," says Troy Champney of Champney Concrete Finishing. "Our plan was to grind off the stain and start from a clean, solid substrate. In cases like this, our motto is always: When in doubt, grind it out!"

In addition to improving the skid-resistance of the driveway, the homeowners also wanted to enhance the appearance and make it a more welcoming approach to their home. "The customer wanted something unique and beautiful that they could be proud of. Our plan was to apply a concrete overlay with a spray texture and accent it with a decorative border. To make the driveway entrance really stand out, we decided to engrave a tree enclosed in a circular band on the apron of the driveway and then stain the tree to give it an elegant, classic look. We duplicated this same tree motif at the other end of the driveway, in front of the garage doors," says Champney. To further enhance the driveway, the decorative overlay by the entry and in front of the garage doors was given a random stone pattern, and then colored using powdered pigments reconstituted with water and applied by a hand-held sprayer.

Amazingly, no stencils were used to create all the decorative details on this project. Champney drew the intricate tree design by hand and then used a hand-held engraving tool to cut the design into the overlay. The tree was then stained with a solvent-based sealer tinted a walnut color. The lines for the random stone pattern were produced with strips of tape, which were covered with a coat of overlay and then pulled up later to reveal the stone design. Once all the work was complete, two coats of clear solvent-based sealer were applied, along with a non-skid additive for extra traction.

The 5,700-square-foot project took two weeks to complete, but the results were well worth the extra time and attention to detail. “The design has held up fantastic to vehicular traffic and the weather because of the quality of sealer we used. With regular maintenance, the longevity of the design will be ensured,” says Champney, who recommends pressure washing and resealing the concrete every two to three years to keep it looking its best.

Champney Concrete Finishing is celebrating 35 years in business this year and offers a full line of decorative concrete services including stamping, staining, decorative overlays, engraving, concrete countertops, outdoor kitchens and more. The company takes special pride in its custom work, as exhibited on this project. “We are excited for people to see just how versatile decorative concrete can be. We ensure that every single job is unique and special. Our goal is to surpass our clients’ expectations in every facet of the project,” says Champney.

Concrete contractor: Champney Concrete Finishing, Lynchburg, Va.

Tools and materials used: Cement-based overlay: Deck Mix from Advanced Surfaces Inc., in Adobe for the main driveway and Moc Brown for the border and driveway entrance
Pigment powders: Advanced Surfaces’ URO Shading System, in a blend of Fawn, Moc Brown, and Silver Gray
Solvent-based sealer: H&C Concrete
Non-skid additive: Skid-Tex, from Zinsser and Co.
Concrete engraving tool: The Wasp, from Engrave-A-Crete

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