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Designing driveways an artful endeavor

In the old days, a cracked driveway was summarily patched. And a seriously broken and damaged driveway was replaced with new concrete. But very little about today's driveways — and sidewalks — is that conventional. Homeowners now have an enormous array of options, from a rainbow of color choices to a range of textural effects when it comes to replacing or revamping their driveway.

Michael Dussling, the owner of Concrete Resurfacing Products in Suwanee, Ga., has been working for 14 years in the concrete business.

"My customers are in two different groups," Dussling said. "One: people who just want something decorative put on their concrete. And two: someone who has structural or cosmetic problems with the existing surface that they want to fix. And they don't want to see the repairs, so they want to cover it up."

There are also two schools of thought when it comes to resurfacing damaged driveways. Bill Sudlow of Atlanta's Sudlow Concrete has worked in the concrete business for 12 years and is less often inclined to repair a crack in a concrete driveway because of the impossibility of matching new concrete to old. "To repair a driveway is sort of a misnomer; you can't really repair concrete because the patch looks worse than the crack. But you can remove a section of the driveway and replace it," noted Sudlow. More often though, when the driveway is unsightly, his customers choose a complete driveway replacement.

If cosmetic issues are your concern, a resurfacing is often the answer. "The advantage of doing a resurfacing over tearing out and repouring a driveway is it's about half as much," Dussling said. "The downside is, if you've got cracks in the driveway, we can repair them before we do it and we always do." But Dussling cautions homeowners repairing cracked driveways that cracks often have a tendency to return.

"Concrete cracks. That's just the nature of the material. We do the best we can to repair them and have them not come back or if we think there's a very good chance they will, we try and camouflage them," Dussling said.

Another consideration when planning a driveway or sidewalk repair or replacement is, of course, the neighbors — or the city. Some homeowners need to be aware, Sudlow said, that their municipality will have to approve any changes they will want to make to the sidewalks in front of their home. "(In some cases), there's all kinds of special permits you have to get, and it's a big headache," cautioned Sudlow, though it can be done.

Suburban homeowners also will want to check with their neighborhood association when it comes to a major driveway revamping. When it comes to changing out the surface, said Dussling, "most of the neighborhoods, front porch and the sidewalks they'll kind of let you get away with." But driveways are a different matter.

With so many front-and-center driveways serving as visible components of the home's architecture, the opportunities to embellish and customize them have exploded. Homeowners are choosing various stamped patterns, tints and textured surfaces at an array of prices to bring distinction to a surface that might have previously been ignored.

Concrete ideas

Following are some of the options Michael Dussling at Concrete Resurfacing Products offers for making your driveway a standout.

Colored sealer After the driveway is cleaned, a colored sealer in 64 different color options is applied, which is then absorbed into the concrete. A concrete sealer is one of the most affordable options when it comes to changing the look of your driveway or walkway with minimal cost. Currently, concrete experts said, shades of tan — champagne, sandstone and sahara — are the most popular sealer colors. The results last anywhere from five to seven years.

Texture Textured materials are used to create traction but also cover up any imperfections or repairs that you've made on a driveway, pool deck or walkway. "It just gives you a nice uniform, even surface for driveways that are on an incline and gives you significant nonslip traction, so you're not slipping and sliding on your driveway," Dussling said.

Multiple colors Cement can be sprayed in a base color and then highlighted with other colors to mimic the look of a pebbled surface. "It's a very decorative look, but the cost doesn't really go up that much," Dussling said of this driveway and walkway effect.

Patterns Stencils or taped patterns can mimic the look of stone, brick or tile and is offered in any number of different colors. A contrasting grout color lends realism to the look.

Artistic surfaces In conjunction with stenciled patterns, sponged-on colors can be used to match a surface to, for instance, a stone patio. "We can pretty closely match something that you've already got," Dussling said.

Stamped overlays "We'll actually install a half- to three-quarter-inch layer of cement over the top of existing concrete, stamp your pattern into it. It will look exactly like stamped concrete," Dussling said. Color and antique effects can then be added.

Designing driveways an artful endeavor 08/25/12 [Last modified: Saturday, August 25, 2012 4:30am]
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