by Anne Balough.
The spring and summer months are a great time to add more curb appeal to your home, starting with the first thing people see when they approach your house — the driveway. If your existing asphalt or plain gray concrete driveway is failing to make a good first impression, consider upgrading the look of your home by installing new decorative concrete pavement.
Concrete is more durable and longer lasting than asphalt, and it also lends itself to a wide variety of decorative options. These six design tips can help you dramatically improve the overall look of your home and enhance its value.
1. Put your stamp on it
Stamping is one of the most popular ways to increase the decorative appeal of concrete driveways. The process involves imprinting fresh concrete with a pattern to resemble brick, slate, flagstone, and other stone-like textures. Stamped concrete driveways give you a vast array of design options not possible with other driveway materials. You can choose from different stone and brick patterns, and it’s also possible to customize the color to complement your home and landscape by using stains, powdered pigments, antiquing agents, and integral color. You can also help your stamped driveway stand out with a decorative border in a contrasting color and pattern.
2. Try a textured finish
If you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford a stamped and colored concrete driveway, a textured finish can add a decorative flourish. One of the easiest for plain concrete is a broom finish, which creates a pattern of fine lines on the surface to provide texture and contrast. Contractors can also embellish concrete driveways with swirled designs by using hand trowels and a bit of artistic flair. Another way to give your concrete a unique look at a minimal cost is with an exposed-aggregate finish. This effect is produced by removing the top layer of freshly placed concrete to expose the coarse aggregate underneath.
3. Complement your home’s exterior design
Although decorative concrete is meant to dazzle, it should never be a distraction. For maximum curb appeal and resale value, keep your projects in harmony with your home’s color scheme and surroundings. Your driveway design should also reflect the historical character and architectural style of your home. For example, concrete stained in rich, earth-tone colors and stamped to look like natural stone contributes to the rustic charm of ranch, farmhouse, and country-style homes. For modern home designs, use geometric patterns in subtle shades of gray to achieve a more contemporary look.
4. Give it a facelift
If your existing concrete driveway is in sound condition but lacks personality, you can give it a dramatic and lasting makeover without having to rip it out and start over. One solution is engraving. Special tools and equipment are used to cut patterns and designs into existing concrete, which can then be enhanced using concrete stains. You can also give an existing driveway a complete facelift by resurfacing it with a concrete overlay, typically applied at a thickness of up to three-quarters of an inch. With stampable overlays, such as the SunStamp System by Sundek, you can use the same stamping mats used for traditional stamped concrete to produce patterns and textures that mimic stone, brick, slate, and other materials.
5. Add a focal point
To really amp up the look of your driveway and give your home more distinction, consider creating an eye-catching focal point. Designs can be custom engraved into new or existing concrete, or you can use specialized concrete stamps to imprint medallions, compass roses, address numbers, nautical stars, and other unique designs into freshly placed concrete.
6. Don’t stop with the driveway
Once you see the impact a new decorative concrete driveway can have on your home’s curb appeal, you won’t want to stop there. If your budget allows, consider replacing your front sidewalk and entryway at the same time (or a year or two down the road) using concrete in a complementary color and pattern. This will give the exterior of your home a more cohesive look while adding to its resale value.