Homeowners are constantly looking to make their properties more attractive. With the help of new finishes to their concrete driveways, the curb appeal greatly increases.
Due to this, there is a greater demand for concrete driveway finishes when driveways are being replaced. And when there is a demand, there’s always equivalent supply as per market regulations. Therefore, we’ve seen an influx of concrete finish options, boasting of a wide variety of colours and styles.
Staying abreast of the latest developments boosts the overall appearance of a property and makes the entrance even more welcoming. But, you might be unsure about which style suits you the best. To help you decide, we’ve prepared a comprehensive list where we’ll take you through some of the most preferred options.
Once you’re familiar with the concept of driveway finishes and acquainted with your choices, you’ll surely be in a better position to narrow in on what you want. And get the driveway finish of your dreams while you’re at it.
So, let us dive into the details without further delay.
Top Concrete Driveway Finishes
Once you start going through the different options, you might also realize that the perfect fit for you is a combination of various finishes. Normally, contractors can help you attain the dream driveway finish, but truth be told, these projects can be undertaken at home too if you’re familiar with using tools.
1. Broom Finish
Driveways can often get slippery when they’re wet, and the best solution to this problem is using the broom finish. It is also known as brushed concrete, and the method is simple. You just take a broom to create a texture that is slip-resistant.
Usually, the best time to apply this finish is when the slab is soft, and the bleed water has gone out. Normal brooms available at stores should do the trick. Just try to ensure that the bristles are hard enough to leave a mark.
Not only is it economical, but this finish happens to be durable as well. If you want, you can add a dash of colour to the texture, so it becomes more vibrant than the basic grey we’re used to seeing.
2. Exposed Aggregate Finish
True beauty is often revealed once we remove the surface. This is especially true if you’re opting for an exposed aggregate concrete finish. In this case, it appears almost like marble or granite. The technique is simple, cost-effective and efficient.
The surface of the concrete is rubbed until it gets removed, to bring out the layer underneath. Obviously, there is a choice of colour and pattern involved, to make the driveways look unique. Although it provides excellent traction, you should ideally avoid moving barefoot on such driveways. This is because the exposed parts are often sharp and might cause discomfort to the feet.
That aside, the best way to expose the layers below is to treat the concrete with chemicals, so the surface doesn’t dry up. Then simply washing it away reveals the look you want for your driveway.
3. Stamped Finish
When you’re in the market for a concrete finish that offers several decorative options, then this is a perfect choice. Merely opt for stamps of different colours and create cost-effective replicas of popular materials, including brick, flagstone, and cobblestone. These look extremely realistic too.
Due to the extreme nature of the stamping process, you can be sure your driveway will look unique. But, very little traction is offered in this pocket-friendly process, which in turn makes it tricky during slippery seasons. At the same time, the integrity of the concrete is slightly compromised, but all things considered, several users still prefer it.
4. Sandwashed Finish
Compared to an aggregate finish, a sandwashed option has certain edges. It is smoother in texture while offering great traction.
But, when examined closely, this method of applying the finish isn’t all that different. Here, the top surface of the concrete is removed as well, to get a sandpaper-like texture. Moreover, in this case, you’ll see how the ratio of smaller sand-sized particles is more than larger particles resembling pebbles.
You can easily walk barefoot here, without fear of losing your balance. Much like the other options listed, this alternative is economical and durable as well.
5. Rock Salt Concrete Finish
Many might be of the opinion that it is bad to expose the concrete to salt. In fact, this is a wrong notion and subjecting concrete surfaces to rock salt could actually leave you with some very interesting patterns.
If you’re familiar with the brushed finish, consider this as a step up. With the help of the particles, your driveway will get a speckled look, and the indentations on the concrete surface will help improve traction greatly.
This is yet another economical method but might end up being a little more expensive if the concrete is coloured integrally. Apart from that, you can easily execute this finish at home, and it will greatly enhance the overall appearance of your driveway.
6. Stained Finish
If you’re looking to add a dash of colour to your driveway, then staining the concrete is the right way to go.
It is an economic project, and the durability is laudable. Basically, the stains penetrate deep into the concrete and produce permanent colours that don’t fade away. These don’t peel off or get flaky over time either.
Mostly, you can rely on acid stains or water stains as popular choices. In the former, the treatment is chemical and subdued hues are available. The latter offers a brighter spectrum of colours that are bound to make the concrete more eye-catching.
7. Concrete Engraving Finish
Most of the options listed here work great if you’re renovating your driveway. But, what’s a simple way to make your existing driveway look great? Simply try engraving on the concrete using the right tools to add some decorative flair.
Basically, here you use special tools or items to make etchings and engravings on the concrete surface. This is a permanent finish, and we recommend combining it with staining to add a dash of colour and make the overall setup look even better. Once you’ve put in the initial effort, you’ll find this finish to be highly durable requiring little regular maintenance.
8. Concrete Stencil Finish
You’ll notice this method isn’t too different from engraving, as far as durability and etching the surface of the concrete is concerned. But, thanks to the more precise nature of the stencils, the patterns are much finer.
There is a downside to using these precision tools for stencilling. They come in preset forms, so the artwork can’t be free-flowing. As a result, whenever a larger area has to be stencilled, patterns are often repeated on the concrete.
9. Sawcut Finish
A lot of designers prefer the sawcut finish, but couple the staining treatment along with it. You can really add a new look to your driveway by using this method and cutting some really decorative patterns on to the surface.
After that, simply adding a dash of colour to these sections makes it seem like a completely new driveway. As far as renovations go, this happens to be one of the best makeover options.
10. Pervious Finish
Unlike some of the alternatives offered here, you must tear out the old driveway and start afresh if you wish to use this concrete finish. Now, users might be wondering what the exact benefit of this method is.
While there might not be a direct upside as far as aesthetics are concerned, it is the environmentally conscious thing to do. Since most of us aren’t ready to give up paved driveways and other such paths, homeowners end up using a lot of impervious surfaces that are detrimental to the ecosystem.
Rainwater doesn’t get a chance to seep in, and the groundwater levels take a hit. By opting for previous finishes, you’ll be using an environmentally sustainable option, while your concrete is still durable and resistant to slippery surfaces.
How To Make Concrete Driveways Better?
Now that you know of some of the great finishes to add while renovating your driveway, you should also keep some quick tricks up your sleeve. These simple makeover options don’t require a lot of effort or money, making them more viable for homeowners.
1. Stained Overlay
When you’ve got a drab concrete driveway, treat it like a blank canvas rather than an eyesore. Don’t tear the whole thing apart. Merely grinding the surface to get a good texture makes for a solid start.
After that, you can use the saw cut method to draw attractive patterns. Once you have the grout lines formed, try adding a splash of colour. The shades will make the lines appear more prominently, and the stained pattern will attract everyone’s attention.
Overall, this will transform how the driveway looks and make your entrance seem rather grand.
2. Faux Alterations
Making faux surface changes helps the driveway match the tone of the entire house. If you’ve got one in relatively good condition, a lot of work doesn’t have to be put in either. Just wash the surface to get the grime out.
Following this, you can make patterns and even go with etchings or engravings. Taken together, this is bound to change how the concrete driveway looks, and spruce up the entry point of your residence.
3. Makeover with Paints and Textures
Some changes truly need to be miraculous. If you have coloured concrete covering a large area in your property, then it is best to use a combination of patterns and staining.
It is advisable to make use of stencilling equipment or tools that allow engraving. On top of that, applying acrylic or water-based colours for staining is a great idea to introduce eye-catching shades to the old concrete driveway.
4. Faded Driveway Makeover
We’ve noted how colours can be durable, but over the years, time takes a toll. Exposure to UV rays, constant footfall and tyre marks end up fading the colours little by little. But, this isn’t something that requires a massive change.
All you have to do is clean and degrease the concrete, removing grime, oil, and other contaminants. Then, apply colour stains to make the driveway look as good as new.
Is Concrete Paint a Bad Idea?
After going through all the methods of making your driveway better, some might end up asking an obvious question: Why not use concrete paint? After all, it is a rather popular option since it is easy to apply and happens to be friendly for most pockets.
But, there are some drawbacks which make this the option that homeowners should avoid at all costs.
1. Not Durable
When you’re putting so much effort on the concrete, the results should be long lasting. While paint does add a bright hue, it is more of an immediate effect than a long-lasting one. You’ll notice that the paint job can’t stand the test of time, and starts peeling off.
If the traffic flow or footfall is more, this change comes even faster, ensuring that you have to keep applying fresh coats of paint at regular intervals.
2. Short Lifespan
As we’ve noted, the paint can peel off. But, even if it is kept in pristine conditions, the colours don’t stay on the driveway concrete. In a couple of years, the hues fade away, mandating that you reapply another coat of paint.
3. Not Suited For Weather Conditions
Since you’re applying paint on the driveway concrete, one expects it to be resilient to all kinds of weather. Unfortunately, this is not the case with paint, which is rather susceptible to weather changes. You’ll see how the harsh sunlight can cause the paint to fade over prolonged periods of time.
It can’t hold its own against inclement weather conditions like rain or snow either. Therefore, it becomes risky to opt for this choice, no matter what kind of climate might be present in your residential area.
4. Temporary Fix
Unlike the methods listed above, the paint only affects the surface of the concrete. Therefore, the fix is much more temporary, and you’ll see how the driveway would fare better with more permanent treatment.
How to Remove Paint?
Surely, you’re convinced by now that the methods we’ve listed are likely to make your driveway look better than a paint job. But, in case you’ve already applied one, and now wish to change over to something more permanent, we’ve detailed the steps to help you remove this paint.
First, you have to clean the surface thoroughly and allow it to dry. This removes all traces of paint. Then, carefully scrape away at any chipped or peeled paint to ensure nothing sticks to the driveway.
Applying paint stripper helps in the cleaning process, but you have to wait and give it some time to act. Once this treatment is over, it is best to rinse the paint stripper residues. Then apply the stripper again in areas where you might need it. It is best to be generous here, and clean all the paint off the driveway.
Then, clear the stripper thoroughly as well, and let the driveway dry. You’ll notice you now have a blank slate to renovate the concrete surface as you see fit.
Maintaining the Driveway
If you’re going with a concrete driveway finish, you still have to put in some amount of maintenance. We’ve noted that these options don’t require a lot of regular upkeep, but the occasional care helps ensure a long and healthy life for the finish. It also keeps the driveway clean and better sealed.
The basic job you have to do is clean the surface vigorously, with the help of a hose and a very stiff brush. This helps remove the dirt and dust that gathers from exposure, over time. You can then use some concrete sealer to add another layer of protection.
Ideally, the sealer should be applied once a year, and if your area receives snow in the winter, we recommend using the sealer in fall. This ensures that the slabs can withstand road salts, as well as harsh inclement weather.
Our thoughts on Concrete Driveway Finishes
Homeowners can now finally decide which finishes go best with their concrete driveway. For starters, merely going with paint is not a wise option. It is the easy way out but ends up leading to harder work overtime.
On the other hand, the methods we’ve outlined are best for renovations, or simple makeovers. It is better to combine some of these techniques for decorative designs as well as colours. If you’re not comfortable with the more complex techniques, you can always opt for something as simple as a brushed finish.
In the event that you want to go for an intricate and grand look, using etching and engraving tools can really go a long way. Some homeowners might not be confident themselves, but it is ideal to rely on contractors in such cases.
This brings us to a conclusion, and now it is up to you to choose the right finish. If you have any doubts, do feel free to reach out to us.
Till next time!