The Chicago Tribune
Give your driveway a makeover with texture and color
By Allison E. Beatty, Special to Tribune Newspapers
Is your plain gray driveway giving you the blues? Or maybe you have a black asphalt drive that’s crumbling like a sad, burned cookie?
It’s time to punch up the color and texture to create a look that will be the talk of the neighborhood.
“You can be very unique with driveway materials, depending on how you arrange them,” said Arnie Pellegrino, owner of Long Island Elite, a landscaping construction firm in New York. “You can mix two materials, add texture or do nice patterns with pavers for edging.”
As you contemplate design ideas, consider the style of your house and your landscaping plan. A Tudor with formal hedges and bluestone walkways might call for a structured driveway of antique granite pavers. “If it’s a Colonial, you might want red bricks along the edges and concrete in the middle or make it all cobblestones to add texture,” Pellegrino said.
The go-to driveway materials are asphalt, concrete and pavers — which can be brick or concrete. But many contractors are now mixing it up with those old favorites. They might put in crushed granite or slabs of bluestone as edgings. Or make the whole driveway out of reclaimed antique bricks to bring in an Old World look. Or add color to concrete for a contemporary feel.
Concrete also can be finished in several ways to create different designs. To add texture, it is finished as exposed aggregate, which involves washing off the top layer to reveal small pieces of crushed stones.
With aggregate, you can then coordinate the driveway with walkways or the pool area, said Daryl Toby, principal of AguaFina Gardens International, a landscaping firm in Sylvan Lake, Mich. “You don’t want the driveway to be the centerpiece, but it’s part of the whole landscaping design and shouldn’t be neglected.”
In more moderate price ranges, consider taking a basic asphalt driveway and punching up the design with a red or orange brick border. Asphalt typically is the least expensive material, so it allows you to spend a little extra on the border without breaking the bank.
There also are new ways to install gravel driveways to reduce some of the dust and gravel movement. New binding agents make it easier for the gravel pieces to adhere to each other, a welcome change to those who like the Old English look of crushed gravel or limestone driveways.
While considering the materials, remember to have fun with the design, but not too much. That is, don’t make the mistake of personalizing it too much. “You can put your initials in it, but it’s a hard thing for resale,” Pellegrino said.
While most driveway materials are used throughout the country, there are some to avoid in cold climates. There also are regional variations in the material mix or site preparation to address temperature fluctuations and soil conditions. In colder climates, some contractors won’t risk decorative concrete with grooves, because water can settle in and freeze. “In Long Island, I wouldn’t do stamped concrete,” Pellegrino said. “In Florida, you can get away with stamped concrete because you don’t have the heaving issues.” Some natural stones, such as bluestone, are susceptible to salt damage and might not be ideal for cold climates. With other materials, the key to using them in cold climates is having a deep enough base to add stability and proper drainage plan for moving water away from the driveway.
Typically the least expensive driveway material, although higher oil prices and changes in the refining process have pushed the cost higher, said Donn Thompson of the Portland Cement Association in Skokie, Ill.
Longevity: 15 to 20 years, but requires periodic resealing.
$2 to $4 per square foot for basic driveway; $6 to $12 per square foot when adding brick or stone edging or a fancy apron.
Can be poured, stamped, stained, colored or textured.
Longevity: 30 years
$7 to $7.50 per square foot for a standard poured driveway; $8.50 to $9 with brick edging; $8.50 to $11 when colored or stained; and $14 to $20 when stamped or textured.
Can be concrete made to look like brick or traditional clay.
Longevity: 30 years for concrete; 100 years or more for brick
Cost: $6 to $16 per square foot, with clay pavers and reclaimed bricks at the high end.