Concrete driveways are alluring for a lot of reasons. For example, they’re durable, easy to maintain, and tend to last a long time. They can be beautiful too, though. In this guide, we’ll take a look at everything you need to know about concrete driveway finishes to make sure you’re driveway stands out.
See different types of driveways on this page.
Concrete Driveway Finish Options
You aren’t lacking in options when it comes to concrete drive finishes. Homeowners have the chance to fit their driveway into their personal taste and design scheme by choosing from a variety of finishes. These are some of the most common to choose from.
Broom-finished concrete has a pretty self-explanatory name. It’s an effect that is achieved by using a broom on the surface as it dries. As a result, the surface isn’t smooth or even. Instead, the broom leaves indents in the pavement for a textured finish.
This application has more than just an aesthetic value as well. By broom-finishing pavement, it has a more slip-resistant surface. To achieve this effect to its fullest, it’s best to apply the grooves perpendicular to the typical direction of traffic on the driveway. This will create the most resistance.
Smooth Concrete Finish
If you want to keep things simple, you don’t have to add a pattern to your concrete at all. A generally neutral option is to opt for a smooth finish. This way, the design only has a smooth surface on the top, although it does take some skill to perfect this design technique.
The only downside to this finish is that it doesn’t offer the same features, such as slip resistance, as a textured surface like the broom style. Still, the end result is a clean, modern driveway that will last you years to come. See more modern driveway ideas here.
Stamped concrete is interesting because it isn’t just a single design. You actually have many options within the stamped finishes category. After all, stamping only refers to the general practice of how the patterns are imprinted into the surface, not the individual styles available.
When it comes to choosing a specific pattern, your options are almost limitless. However, common options include stamping into shapes or imitating the look of another material like bricks. Like broom finishes, this can help weather-proof your drive and make it slip-resistant in the rain.
Poured as it is, many people recognize concrete from its gray appearance. For homeowners, this can raise the concern that, as far as color goes, it can be a drab choice. This is actually the opposite of the truth! You can make these driveways almost any color that you want.
This is because you have the option to stain your concrete driveway. Staining is a surefire way to get a fresh and interesting color, and since it isn’t just on the surface, it’ll last quite a while without fading or altering.
You can even mix other materials with concrete to create a unique finish. A pebble finish driveway is a fairly popular way to do this.
In this method, the pebbles are mixed with the concrete and locked into place once the surface sets. This also has the interesting effect of adding depth to the appearance by changing the texture of the driveway completely.
Plus, this is another case where adding texture can help create a surface that isn’t as slick when wet. This is especially helpful in a driveway exposed to the elements consistently.
Exposed Aggregate Finish
An exposed aggregate finish is related to a pebble style. After all, exposed aggregate driveway finishes are simply the concept of adding an aggregate material to concrete and exposing it later on. By doing this, the surface ends up with a textured look that stands out from the standard smooth finished driveways.
The aggregate itself can vary depending on the appearance you’re going for, but most of these driveways are made with an aggregate like crushed stone, gravel, sand, and more. All in all, you can use aggregate materials that are naturally occurring, man-made, or even recycled material.
Sponge-finished concrete is another option with a textured surface. Creating a sponge finish requires pouring the cement and waiting for it to harden somewhat. They wash the surface with water and apply a sponge to create the desired effect.
The process is time-consuming and is usually applied to decorative areas such as inlays, accents, and coping around the pool.
This means that it looks fantastic and visually engaging and will also help add a heightened level of slip resistance to the driveway, which would help make the driveway safer in rainy weather.
Salt-finished concrete driveways have an irregular pattern that can create a speckled appearance. This specific style gets its name from the process of creating the result.
To create a salt finish concrete driveway, rock salt is added using rollers to the surface after it’s placed but before it’s set. This creates the one-of-a-kind texture that we discussed a moment ago.
Another great thing about this style is that it also textures the surface. This makes it another great option for driveways that handle rainy weather well. Salt finishes are particularly popular around pools for slip resistance.
Modern Driveway Finishes
There are plenty of concrete finishes out there that can prove a stunning addition to your home. While we’ve looked a lot at the most popular ones, there are even more options out there to add a modern touch to your landscape. Polished, resin-bound, and stamped are three of the most popular modern finishes to use.
Another option that you have is a sand-washed application. This is similar to an exposed aggregate finish and will give your driveway the subtle texture that aids in making your driveway more slip-resistant. You can even play around with adding motifs or designs to the surface.
In the end, there is an overabundance of options to suit your individual style when you decide on a finish for a new paved driveway.
For more related content, check out our article comparing pavers vs concrete driveways.