Concrete Driveways and Patios: A Guide

Concrete Driveways

No doubt about it, a smooth driveway surface is on every homeowner’s wish list. Durability, low-maintenance, strength, and longevity are the benefits of choosing concrete over asphalt or gravel. For attractiveness and long-term maintenance, concrete can be colored, stamped, and sealed. Concrete consists of stone aggregate, water, and lime-based (Portland cement) composition. Commonly used for driveway and sidewalk surfaces, finer grades of stone aggregate material vary with relation to the desired texture of the concrete slab. For smooth concrete surfaces, fine sand particles to small gravel aggregate are used. Removal of an old reinforced concrete driveway takes more than eight hours with an estimated cost of up to $3,500. For a four inch thick 20 ft. wide by 40 ft. long two-car driveway, the cost is estimated as more than $5 per square foot without added expense for increased depth, sloping, or curves. Thicker concrete is suggested for driveways containing more than two cars or heavy-duty vehicles. Concrete is best when poured at temperatures above 50°F. Pouring concrete during freezing temperatures compromises quality and strength. Heat, cold, moisture, mold, salt deposits, and air circulation affect the lifespan of concrete slabs. Every four to five years, sealing properly cured concrete ensures protection against damage, corrosion, and staining. Wait 72 hours before using a sealed concrete surface.

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Concrete Patios

Accounting for homeowner preference, concrete patios may consist of poured concrete, stamped concrete or concrete patio pavers.  Numerous pros and cons mention the benefits and disadvantages of each type of surface. Poured concrete has the advantage of a long product lifespan as well as quality over less expensive options. Stamped and colored concrete patios have the added design factor over plain poured concrete or patio pavers. Poured concrete offers a smooth walking surface adding safety and property value. Poured concrete costs less than pavers. A winning combination, poured concrete has the advantage of strength, durability, and cost-effectiveness. Cons involved:  Improperly installed pavers may shift and cause an uneven patio and walking surface.  As well, improperly poured and cured concrete has the disadvantage of cracking, peeling, and degrading. Cost and quality are big concerns when considering ROI and installation schedules. Installing a new patio takes time which affects the overall quality of the finished project. Depending upon regional prices as well as seasonal market fluctuations, due to the production process, concrete pavers can be as expensive, if not more, than a poured concrete patio surface. Pavers cost approximately $5 to $15 per square foot. Red brick paver cost varies from 50 cents to $5.00 per brick. Estimated, poured concrete costs $3 to $5 per square foot. An average sized poured concrete patio costs $3,000 with 50% ROI and a $1,500 increased property valuation. When planning, consider cost, quality, time and schedule