Concrete driveways were once the state of the art and still remain are a more than adequate driveway material. Hard, durable, light in color – even able now to take a dye – thus potentially colorful – concrete’s durability and strength achieve a high mark for an enduring and serviceable driveway surface. While concrete has disadvantages I will address below, it remains a high-value surface, sought by many homeowners and builders interested in a mid- to high-quality product. The durability issue tends to be it’s major strength, certainly more so than asphalt.
Artistically, concrete serves one major function as being light colored and generally neutral regarding color. Thus, a house or garden, if somewhat colorful itself, will positively glow in contrast. Another feature in concrete can be its finished top. There are methods of producing somewhat arresting finishes by the handwork almost always applied to a concrete still-wet surface. Whereas most concrete driveways receive a “broom finish”, where the bristles from a broom makes tiny channels, somewhat roughened and therefore non slip, they can also receive a “swirl and shine” finish, whereby the finisher swirls his trowel in small circles, resulting in a massive series of the same swirls permanently embedded in the finished top layer. Hundreds of small swirls, all similar make a satisfyingly complex top finish, easy in the eye and quite complex.
Colors can also be applied to concrete, either in the form of dyes sprayed on after the fact or in the cement mixing truck itself prior to the pour. “Stamped concrete” has rich and abundant colors thrown on as a dust which penetrates the drying cement just prior or following the actual stamping and embedding process. This results in a mineralized look, matching rock colors in nature. And, needless to say, concrete can be painted. There are now thick acrylics that easily cover concrete with a durable finish and which can result in come very interesting effects.