Driveway Surfacing Choices: Concrete
What's out there: Choices include plain concrete; concrete colored with pigments or acid-staining; colored and stamped concrete that mimics stone; and exposed aggregate that allows the top layer of textured gravel to show through.

Pros: Long-lasting. Depending on the weather, exposure to road salt and subsoil preparation, concrete should last at least15 years and often more than 50 years with biannual sealing and proper drainage. Precise edge treatments are a snap; its smooth surface is ideal for basketball and makes snow removal easy.

Cons: You'll have to wait seven days for the concrete to cure before driving on it. Cracking is inevitable - particularly in freeze/thaw conditions - and repairs stand out. Concrete can't be relayered like asphalt, and should be sealed every two years. The finish can vary widely depending on the installer. Oil stains are tough to remove, colored concrete fades over time. Because concrete cracks when not supported, poor drainage and unstable soil can reduce life span to just five to eight years.

Cost: $3 to $4 per square foot for a plain concrete slab and $5 for pigmented concrete, $7 for exposed aggregate and $8 for an acid-etched finish. If you're putting in a driveway where none existed, add $1 to $2.50 per square foot for an 8- to 10-in. gravel bed beneath the concrete.

Recommendations: Be sure any bedding or gravel base, including a pulverized slab, is compacted and the ground well-drained. A new gravel base should be 3/4-minus gravel and 8 to 10 in. deep. After concrete is poured, to prevent cracking, use a sprinkler to keep concrete moist as it cures.

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