The use of concrete as an alternative to tarmac or gravel is now an established option for drive coverings. We explore the two most popular options
Concrete Block Paving (CBP)
CBP has been used since the late 1970’s, and its growing popularity has prompted a wide range of products offering a choice of textures, styles and colours in both traditional and contemporary designs, both giving a long-lasting and attractive finish.
- Concrete Block Paving will last for many years providing it receives the correct maintenance.
- If the area needs to be moved for any reason, e.g. access to services, then the disturbed area can easily be repaired.
- CBP also comes as a permeable option that requires no additional drainage.
Great care should be taken when installing a CBP driveway. Being bedded on a simple layer of sharp sand, the paving is prone to sinkage or movement if the sub base is unsatisfactory. A sloping drive could be a particular hazard if its sub base is not a sound surface. The longer a sub base is left to settle, the better.
Over time, pigmented blocks of concrete can fade since there is no natural resistance to staining.
Weed growth in the surface joints can also be a problem.
A CBP drive is not a cheap option, compared to, say, tarmac or gravel. However, the aesthetic gains over the two cheaper options are obvious.
Patterned Imprinted Concrete (PIC)
Patterned Imprinted Concrete has only recently become generally available. A concrete layer is poured over an existing surface and the colour and colour fastener is then applied together with a patterned matt finish of your choice. This procedure greatly enhances the look of plain concrete, and comes in a wide range of designs.
- PIC is a popular alternative to CBP due to lower cost and the replica finish it provides
- The wet concrete can be patterned to suit your individual requirements.
- A major benefit of PIC is the ability to cover large areas quickly.
Alignment can be a problem, giving an overall inferior look to the drive. It may also be prone to cracking. If part of the drive needs to be taken up for repair or access to services, it can be patch-repaired, but it is unlikely that a large repair will match exactly the original installation.
As with CBP, a sound sub base is essential together with adequate draining.
PIC will require more maintenance than CBP. The sealant used to protect the colour will need to be reapplied every two to four years. Sealants can make the drive slippery when the surfaces are wet or icy. Tree pollen landing on the surface can also be a problem. Anti-slip agents such as aluminium silicate can be added to the sealant before use to reduce the hazard.
So, which to choose?
Both Concrete Block Paving and Patterned Imprinted Concrete have advantages and drawbacks, but in this case, the adage ‘you get what you pay for’ applies. At the moment, CBP offers a greater choice of shapes, colours, styles and finishes to suit your individual requirements and so results in a tailor-made driveway, which, looked after properly, will enhance your home for a long time to come.