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9 Concrete Driveway Finishes that Are Better Than PaintFind the best surface options for your driveway makeover and learn why paint is a bad idea
Your decorative options for existing concrete driveway finishes are nearly as broad as those for newly placed driveways. As long as the concrete is in sound condition, it can be colored, resurfaced, scored or engraved to achieve a multitude of patterns and color schemes.
BEST TYPES OF CONCRETE DRIVEWAY FINISHES
See below to compare the decorative finishes you can use on concrete driveways. Often the best looks use a combination of these techniques, such as staining and engraving or resurfacing and sawcutting. Speak with a driveway contractor near you to get expert recommendations for the best driveway finish.
Here are the best finishes for a concrete driveway:
A simple and affordable option for driveways that offers good traction. Try switching the direction of the broomed lines between joints to create some variation.
This is a traditional and easy method for adding subtle texture and skid resistance to a plain or colored concrete driveway. A salt finish leaves a pattern of shallow indentations on the surface, similar to slightly pitted, weathered rock.
Exposed aggregate concrete can be compared to a piece of granite or marble. The top layer is stripped away to reveal decorative aggregate that is durable and skid resistant. Looks especially nice when combined with driveway borders and bands.
Staining is an economical and versatile way to upgrade the look of both new and existing concrete driveways. Stains penetrate deeply into the concrete, producing fade-resistant, permanent color that will not flake off or peel away. The stain color can be made to compliment your house color, or to mimic natural materials.
A stamped concrete driveway offers many decorative options not possible with other paving materials. Using stamps combined with coloring agents, you can create cost-effective, realistic replicas of popular materials such as cobblestone, brick, natural slate, and flagstone.
Concrete engraving uses special tools and equipment to etch patterns and designs into existing concrete. Try adding a beautiful tree or compass rose as a centerpiece to your driveway.
One of the easiest ways to transform an existing driveway is to cut decorative patterns into the concrete. Sawcuts can be used to create borders or a tile-like pattern. This process is also called scoring.
Contractors can transform existing driveways by using adhesive-backed stencils and concrete overlays. The stencils come in a variety of stone, brick, cobblestone, and tile patterns as well as special accent designs, permitting a wide variety of looks.
For this option you’ll have to tear out your old driveway and start fresh. Pervious concrete has a similar look to exposed aggregate, but allows water to pass through to the underlying soil. It offers an organic, rough-textured look and can be colored integrally. Plus it helps with storm water management and reduces the urban heat-island effect.
Tip: When considering concrete driveway finishes, remember that it is necessary to choose a great driveway sealer to make your finish last for as long as possible.
What can I cover my concrete driveway with?
If your driveway needs repairs, or a refreshed look, resurfacing may be the best option. Resurfacing works to cover cracks, spalling and fading color in your existing concrete surface. In addition to making your driveway stronger, and last for a longer time, the overlay coating can take color, or be textured with a new pattern. Applying a coating to your existing driveway is more cost-effective than replacing it in its entirety. If you resurface an existing driveway with a stampable overlay, you'll also be able to choose from the same vast array of stamp patterns available for newly placed concrete.
WHY DRIVEWAY PAINT IS A BAD IDEA
Concrete paint is a popular option for adding color to driveways that is budget friendly and easy to apply. However, here are some drawbacks to consider:
- Lack of durability – doesn’t stand up to vehicle traffic and peels and fades with time
- Short life – paint typically only lasts for 1-2 years before it needs to be reapplied
- Can fade – can fade in the sun and is not very resilient to weather
- Temporary – paint only coats the surface of the concrete and is, therefore, a temporary fix
How to remove concrete paint from your driveway
If you have a concrete driveway that has been painted, but are looking for a more permanent source of color, here are the steps to remove the paint:
- Clean the surface thoroughly and let dry
- Scrape peeled or chipped paint
- Apply paint stripper and wait
- Rinse paint stripper residue
- Reapply paint stripper as necessary
- Clean thoroughly and let dry
MORE IDEAS FOR MAKING YOUR DRIVEWAY BETTER
Many contractors specialize in making over existing concrete in response to consumer desires to save the money and hassle of complete driveway removal and replacement. This approach has also become more popular because it's environmentally friendly and conserves resources. After all, why replace perfectly sound concrete when it can be given a facelift that will extend its service life for decades? At the same time, you'll be enhancing the curb appeal of your home and boosting its resale value.
See these existing driveway makeovers:
A combination of concrete stains, antiquing colorants, decorative sawcuts, and texture stamps were used to transform this home's driveway and entryway.
This colored concrete driveway was streaked and faded due to weather exposure and improper maintenance. Water-based stains in the colors of brown and light adobe were used to revive the original color, followed by the application of a sealer to prevent future fading and discoloration.
A combination of faux finishing with water-based stains and custom engraving revived this plain gray concrete driveway, giving this home instant curb appeal. The pattern for the brick border was created with a custom template.
This driveway makeover is the perfect example of how you can use concrete stains and overlays to completely revitalize existing concrete. The color of the original concrete had become faded and blotchy over time. The application of solid-color water-based stains, in colors that complement the home exterior, gave the driveway new life.