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Hard Facts About Concrete Driveways

With so much focus placed on the garage, our driveways are often overlooked. This stretch of our property is front-and-center, enhancing or damaging our curb appeal. A dysfunctional driveway could also cause harm to vehicles or people using the space. There are many options for replacement driveway materials, and one of the most popular is concrete. Let's look at the pros and cons of installing a concrete driveway to determine if it's the right material for your home.

Concrete driveways are relatively simple in construction: a gravel base is covered over with a concrete mix. It is then smoothed, edged, and dried. You may see concrete driveways in many residential homes, then again, you may also notice that older concrete driveways are often damaged. With examples that show how presentable and not-so-stunning some concrete driveways can be, it's important to weigh the advantages and drawbacks of this material.

Cost

  • Pro: Concrete is an affordable driveway material for many homeowners, making it a desirable option for those who want to maximize their budgets.
  • Con: Gravel driveways are slightly cheaper than concrete per square foot. This may be a more attractive option for those seeking the lowest-cost option.

Lifespan

  • Pro: The average concrete driveway can last from 25 to even 50 years, unlike asphalt, seashell, or brick materials. This provides families with a reliable driveway surface that may last them throughout their entire homeownership.
  • Con: Other materials, such as paving stones, can last up to a century. Although they are costlier, their extended lifespan may be worth the investment.

Installation

  • Pro: A professional team can install a concrete driveway in a matter of days.
  • Con: While a homeowner can install a concrete driveway themselves, this DIY option is quite an undertaking. If mistakes are made, they may be impractical to fix after it's dried.

Wear & Tear

  • Pro: Concrete is a durable material and cracking usually won't occur for many years.
  • Con: Stains from oil or other substances will show on the surface. Extreme cold temperatures can crack the concrete, while salt and de-icers can also damage it.

Maintenance

  • Pro: Concrete requires limited maintenance, as weather like sun and rain rarely damages it. It can also be repainted or pressure washed to retain its attractiveness. Sealing the concrete, though not required, can extend its lifespan.
  • Con: Repairs on concrete driveways are quite difficult. Extreme surface pressure or movement could cause cracking which could lead to a full driveway replacement.

Eco-Friendly

  • Pro: As companies attempt to become more environmentally conscious in the design of their products, new concrete mixes have been developed that are "low-carbon". These options recycle ground-up concrete for the mix instead of using raw gravel.
  • Con: Unfortunately, concrete is considered one of the least eco-friendly driveway materials available.

Concrete is a versatile and durable driveway material, available in a number of colors and often caters to a homeowner's budget. However, homeowners who desire a driveway that is more attractive or lasts longer may want to consider other material options.

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