Is A Concrete Driveway The Right Choice For Your Home?
Looking for driveway ideas or considering a new concrete driveway?
- Which driveway surface is best when choosing between concrete, asphalt or permeable/interlocking pavers?
- What are the benefits of a concrete driveway vs asphalt or permeable/interlocking pavers?
- What type of ongoing maintenance does a concrete driveway require compared to an asphalt driveway or paver driveway?
These are all very important things to consider when it comes to a choosing a new driveway.
Whether you call them concrete driveways or cement driveways… they’re both the same.
How common are concrete driveways? The further South we travel in the United States, the more likely we see concrete driveways and/or paver driveways. The further North we travel in the United States, the more likely we see asphalt driveways. This is due to the limited amount of freeze and thaw cycles that occur in warmer regions.
Unfortunately, concrete is not pliable like asphalt, therefore, freeze and thaw cycles can crack and damage concrete fairly substantially over time if it’s not maintained properly. Concrete is also prone to spalling from the use of salt and magnesium chloride de-icers. (See a video in our FAQ’s section about de-icers!) These de-icing materials are also used by local governments for winter road maintenance. As a vehicle drives on the roads, ice and snow builds up on the undercarriage. Then when the vehicle pulls into the driveway or garage and it falls from the car and melts, it then damages the concrete surface resulting in spalling, especially if the concrete driveway was not installed properly.
Sub-grade preparation can take anywhere from 1-2 days and up to 2 weeks, depending on the region you live. Based on the size and scope of work involved, the construction of a new concrete driveway can be installed by an experienced concrete contractor generally over a 2-3 day period after the sub-grade preparation has been done. Concrete driveway installation can be labor intensive and it also needs to cure for several days before being able to drive on it and use it, so you can expect the average concrete driveway to take as much as 7-10 days to install. Even more time may be required for patterned or stamped, stained or overlayed concrete driveways.
If you already own a concrete driveway and it’s beginning to show the signs of aging and exceptional deterioration, or has a tremendous amount of patching and repairs and looks patchy, blotchy and uninviting… removing and replacing it may be in order! This absolutely should be performed by a reputable concrete company that will do it right the first time by performing soil tests and determining if the sub-grade is suitable to re-install the concrete driveway on the existing soil. If not, the soil should be excavated and new base or structural material installed for a solid, long lasting driveway.
All driveways age and deteriorate and become a use and safety hazard. The goal with any driveway should be to maximize the life expectancy as much as possible before having to completely remove and replace it. This requires a solid plan with frequent maintenance of every 2 to 3 years.
Of the four types of driveways, a concrete driveway is #2
when comparing cost and #3 when comparing ongoing maintenance.
- Paver Driveway – #1 – Most Expensive
- Concrete Driveway – #2
- Asphalt Driveway – #3
- Gravel Driveway – #4 – Least Expensive
A concrete driveway is the second most expensive driveway when comparing it to the other hard surface driveways.
Ongoing Maintenance Chart:
- Gravel Driveway – #1 – Most Ongoing Maintenance
- Asphalt Driveway – #2
- Concrete Driveway – #3
- Paver Driveway – #4 – Least Ongoing Maintenance
A concrete driveway requires the second least amount of ongoing maintenance, compared to the other hard surface driveways.
Life Expectancy Of A Concrete Driveway
A properly installed concrete driveway with regularly scheduled maintenance can last up to 20 or even 30 years! That variation in age can be determined by the stability of the sub-grade, the quality of the installation, the type and frequency of maintenance, the drainage plan and the climate of the region you’re located in.
Types of ongoing maintenance you can expect to perform on a concrete driveway?
Cleaning oil spots, sealing cracks, edging and sealing.
New concrete driveways should NOT be sealed until they are at minimum 3 to 4 weeks old. Concrete should then be sealed every 3 to 5 years thereafter to slow down the deterioration process.
If you live in a snowy region and de-icers are regularly used in your area, concrete driveways and stamped concrete driveways should then be sealed every 1 to 2 years to protect from salt and magnesium chloride. However, only a quality commercial grade concrete sealer is recommended and applied either by yourself or a reputable concrete sealing contractor.
When cracks develop, they should be sealed as soon as possible. Ultimately cracks should be sealed every year or as needed. Sealing the cracks will help to prevent further damage and failures like alligatoring and potholes.
Choosing The Right Driveway For Your Home
When choosing between a concrete driveway and the other three types of driveways, take into the consideration these things:
Budget – Curb Appeal – Climate – Amount Of Ongoing Maintenance – Durability
If the short term, up front cost is a deciding factor, Gravel Driveways or Asphalt Driveways are excellent, low cost options, depending on the size of your driveway and the thickness requirements. The long term trade off, however, gravel driveways and asphalt driveways require more ongoing maintenance. If cost is not as important of a factor, and aesthetics are more important, then a Concrete Driveway or Paver Driveways are the only alternatives for a beautiful hard surface driveway. While initially the up front costs are higher, long term they require less maintenance therefore less maintenance costs.
Also, take into consideration the effects of a concrete driveway if it’s not maintained properly or how it can look as it ages.
Unfortunately, concrete driveways by nature cracks. When cracks develop, they should be sealed with a quality commercial grade concrete crack sealer. Sealing the cracks will help to prevent further damage and failures like alligatoring and potholes. Ultimately cracks should be sealed every year. This will most certainly save money long term avoiding costly patching services. This is tough to do since most concrete driveway maintenance companies provide crack sealing services in conjunction with sealing, which can only be performed with temperatures of 50 degrees and rising. This is why in most areas of the country sealing is performed only in the summer months.
Summary Of Concrete Driveways
Concrete driveways can be beautiful addition to your home. The wide variety of different colors and patterns to choose from can give your home a unique, one of a kind look. Stamped concrete driveways, patterned concrete driveways, colored concrete driveways, concrete driveway overlays, concrete driveway staining and dyes. See some different Colorful Design Ideas For Concrete Driveways.
When it comes to durability, keep in mind the amount of traffic and the type of traffic your driveway will endure. If your driveway will have to endure exceptionally heavy vehicles, an above average amount of heavier vehicle traffic, or an above average amount of water runoff, a concrete driveway may be the answer and long term solution.
If you’re considering having a new concrete driveway installed, an existing one overlayed or one completely removed and replaced, see our Concrete Driveway Installation FAQ’s section for more information to ensure a good, quality long lasting job.
You can also learn more about the ongoing maintenance of a concrete driveway by visiting our Concrete Driveway Maintenance FAQ’s section.
Before you hire a contractor to install or perform maintenance on your concrete driveway, be sure and review our video and eBook series, “The Most Common Ways Concrete Contractors Rip Us Off And How To Avoid Them” ™ You’ll learn everything you need to know in order to hire a reputable contractor and get the job done right the first time!
Or make it easy on yourself! Save time, money and future headaches by hiring one of our pre-screened and background checked concrete companies to install, remove and replace or perform maintenance services on your concrete driveway. Learn more or request an estimate from one of our Trusted Concrete Installation or Concrete Repair Contractors in your local area.
Last, if you would like to learn how to perform maintenance services on your concrete driveway yourself, visit our “Do It Yourself” Training Center for great tutorial videos and eBooks that cover How To Repair and Seal A Concrete Driveway.