Think concrete is a one-size-fits-all solution to driveway installs? Think again with these common types sure to give you functional surfaces with top curb appeal.
Driveway looking stained, cracked, weather beaten, or outdated?
It just might be time for a new one. Concrete driveways are one of the most versatile options to choose from with their combination of durability and design.
Wait. Concrete and design together? You bet!
Concrete makes for a strong foundation that can be impermeable to the elements and whatever you and your family throw at it with proper installation. And what’s more, concrete can be customised in any number of ways to match your aesthetic and designer details. Gone are the days where concrete equals a drab slab (unless that’s your preference, of course).
Concrete pathways are the most popular material used across Melbourne and Australia as a whole. They far outpace more expensive options, such as pavers or brick, and less attractive substrates like asphalt. It’s also longer lasting than using timber or loose gravel, which can degrade over time.
6 common types of concrete driveway finishes for your home
So what makes concrete so versatile?
The answer comes down to how professional installers are able to shape, modify, and mix the material to create a different look, every time. It also stands out as being more durable than any other material you could use. Even asphalt, which can last up to 30 years, pales in comparison to properly installed concrete, which can last for 50 years or more.
Sure, you can choose designer pavers or coloured brickwork for your driveway, but you’ll pay higher costs to deliver and install it. And designer materials tend to cost more to begin with. In comparison, driveways typically start at just $60 per square metre, compared to $150 per square metre on average for pavers.
With all of these advantages in mind, let’s take a look at the different ways you can customise your property with these common types of concrete driveways.
Starting with a classic, there’s nothing as crisp and fresh looking as professionally poured and set concrete. Plain concrete is a popular solution because it can be quickly installed with minimal additional details, which also drives down costs. You can expect to spend between $60-$80 per square metre to have your driveway done this way. You can also expect the least amount of maintenance or care needed to keep this driveway in top shape. With proper sealing done by a professional concrete service, it should also last at least 30 years with most dirt and grime easily washed away with a simple garden hose.
Can’t decide between plain or exposed aggregate concrete? Click here for our comparison article
Like the idea of a straightforward driveway but want a little bit of texture or flair? Brushed concrete is a great option that remains economical when it comes to installation. You can expect to spend between $75-$95 per square metre for this finish type.
Professionals will pour for a plain driveway to start with. Then, once all is levelled and smoothed, they will go over the surface with tools that can give the surface a brushed or scalloped look. This can be done in a variety of brush strokes and patterns. This not only adds design elements to your driveway but also adds a bit more traction for walking and driving on.
Keep in mind that the concrete grooves created by the brushing effect may hold onto dirt a bit more, so regular rinsing or occasional power washing at a lower psi may be required to keep it looking like new.
Just like with brushing, wet concrete can also be stamped with different lines and textures to mimic other materials as desired. This is great for giving the appearance of stone, wood, or brick without paying for (and maintaining) a driveway made with those materials. Stencils can also be used to imprint a custom design into the overall driveway such as a monogram or other focal point.
A stamped driveway can run between $90-$120 per square metre depending on how complex your design will be. Adding stencilling will also add to the cost, since this is a custom element, at about $100-$150 per square metre that requires the unique finish work.
#4: Pave cut
Homeowners who like the look of slate or pavers can also consider a pave cut finish for their driveway. This is often combined with coloured (see below) or brushed (see above) finishes for a modern style that looks just like oversized natural slate. You can also choose how large, or small, to have a pattern applied for a custom finish and choice of design.
Installers will take all of the same steps to install, level, and customize your concrete. To add the pave cut look, they will wait until the driveway is completely cured and then use a diamond saw to cut in lines for a paved look. The costs here will vary depending on the equipment and the number of cuts needed, so be sure to ask for a custom quote.
While the standard grey of concrete can be a neutral choice for most homes, some designs and personal preferences call for a more nuanced colour. Luckily, it’s fairly straightforward for a professional installer to add a tint to your concrete for an even and uniquely toned concrete finish. Colours can range from light pearls and whites to chocolate brown or bluestone (for that slate impression look).
Adding colour to your driveway can make it truly unique while keeping the curb appeal timeless. And it won’t break the budget, either. Coloured concrete can run between $70-$85 per square metre, adding just a little more cost to an otherwise plain poured driveway.
#6: Exposed aggregate
For something with more texture, exposed aggregate offers a wide variety to choose from. For this common type of concrete driveway, an additive is mixed into the concrete to give it a three-dimensional look. This can include small stones, shells, and pebbles. These are available in any number of sizes and colourways for a truly unique look.
The cost for an exposed aggregate concrete driveway falls between $100-$150 per square metre, with the final pricing coming down to the type of aggregate you choose along with standard installation fees. And the final product will be a textured, decorative, slip-resistant, durable driveway that will last you for decades to come.
What to expect with your new driveway
Once you settle on the type of concrete driveway you want, you might be wondering what to expect as far as the actual process. While there are differences in the decorative applications, overall the process is essentially the same for most driveways.
- Existing driveway material is removed and disposed of according to law.
- The ground is levelled and then given a coating of gravel substrate.
- The concrete is mixed (this is where your colour tints and/or aggregate are added) and poured.
- Team members ensure that all concrete is smoothed and levelled in place.
- Brushing or stamping is completed to add designer touches as desired.
- The concrete is left for several days to cure completely before walking or driving on it.
- For pave cut driveways, team members will return to cut the design into the concrete.
- Sealant is applied to protect the naturally porous surface from dirt, grease, and oils.
- Regular maintenance is simple: occasional sweeping, rinsing, or power washing for stubborn stains.
How to choose the right concrete service for your driveway project
A portfolio of work is best, especially if you are looking for a designer look.
Be sure to ask to see examples of past work that looks like, or at least close to it, the design you want to achieve for your own home. Not all driveway designs and techniques are the same, and so a contractor that can tint a colour may not be as skilled with a pave cut, for example. You can also take to Google and look up online reviews or explore social media accounts for a prospective company. This can give you a better idea of what past customers have to say about their experiences with the vendor.
You also want to work with a professional concrete service that is licensed and insured with many years of business in your area. This will give you more peace of mind that they will be a reliable and trustworthy provider for you. While many manufacturers offer limited warranties on the concrete mix itself when installed professionally, you will want to ask whether the installer offers any workmanship or installation warranties as well. This can protect you in the event that something does not turn out quite how you expected.
Go custom with your driveway for maximum curb appeal
Clearly, a driveway can be much more than might first meet the eye. The limit is your imagination, as many homeowners go for a mix of treatments to create a truly custom driveway. Picture pulling your car in over a bluestone tinted, brushed, pave cut drive that looks just like slate – without the cost of real slate!
At Concept Concrete, we use concrete to create designs, not just structures and functional spaces (although those are part of it, too!). We’re a family-run business located right here in Melbourne, with years of service dedicated to the area and the surroundings to help homeowners take their slabs from drab to fab.
We also stand by all of our work with structural warranties, and all of our services are provided by highly trained and experienced professionals on our team. Concept Concrete believes in making the entire process hassle free for customers, from free custom quotes to the final finishes.
Call us on 1300 366 343 or message us for a free quote today!