Let me start off by saying not all concrete is created equal. This means that there is more than just gray concrete. Cohills in Phoenix has a really good website showing different options for concrete.
I think that most of the time when people think of a concrete walkway or concrete driveway, the first thing that comes to mind is the standard broom finish gray concrete.
The first thing I think of is the many stains, finishes and additions that I can add to the concrete.
With an existing concrete driveway my initial plan is always to enhance it. I may suggest adding a border of pavers on each side. Another thought may be to add 16″ to 24″ of exposed aggregate to each side. Sealing it would take it to another level. You would not need to stain the entire drive, just the new band.
If you want to get a little more ambitious, saw cut a few bands across the existing driveway then fill this new space with pavers, exposed aggregate or some other complimenting medium.
Some additional materials to consider are concrete with Mexican beach pebbles on its side. This is done by hand placing each stone. The work is tedious but you can come up with some pretty cool designs. The process really brings out the Spanish influence in a project. If you want to bring out the color of the beach pebbles you would need to seal it.
My next thought is staining the concrete. I am not referring to coloring the concrete. When I suggest staining to a client I am thinking of using two or more colors. I usually lean toward the earth tones, but the materials that we are using in the project is what ultimately dictates what stains to use.
Something else worth mentioning with staining is texturing. Sometimes what is done while the stain is still wet is placing leaves on the surface. I have seen people scratch or roll patterns into the stain. Your only limitation is your imagination.
One quick story concerning staining and texturing took place a few years ago. I went to a client’s home to discuss doing a landscape design for the backyard. The homeowner had already done some work himself. He had extended the patio himself with stained concrete. I commented to him how good a job he did and I asked him about the textures that were in the stain. He and his wife looked at each other and laughed. Apparently after he finished staining the patio a big wind blew leaves from a ficus tree all over the patio. He ran to get the leaf blower but after all the leaves were gone the damage was done, or so he thought. The next morning when he and his wife came out and looked at the patio they commented to each other about the unexpected unique look. It looked really good.
Earlier I mentioned exposed aggregate as one finish to consider. The most common finish is broom finish. Usually the broom marks go in one direction. Think about alternating the brush strokes between pads. The effect shows up when the sunlight hits the pavement. The look is subtle but will still draw your attention because every other pad appears to be a bit darker. DC Ranch in Scottsdale has this type of finish for their walkways.
Something that seems to go hand in hand when I speak about concrete with clients is acrylic overlay. Personally, I am not a fan of acrylic overlays. To me most of the patterns just do not look real enough. That being said, I was in Fry’s Market Place on Shea and Tatum in Phoenix. Although the stone pattern that was in the entrance was not real stone, it still looks very good. That’s what important.
As usual feel free to comment.