I'm a homeowner with a 1920s house in Columbia, SC and want to install
a new driveway. It will be about 2700 SF in all so I need to keep
costs in line.
I have bids for as low as $9,500, and that includes some engraving or
scoring in a nice diamond pattern. I'm concerned about color and
texture. I want something other than gray brushed concrete, and I
don't like the stained or stamped look. I saw online some interesting
looking aggregates with very fine aggregate, more natural looking
colors. The site is: http://www.exposedaggregateconcrete.com/menu.htm
But every dealer and contractor I speak to here wants to do what they
do well, not what I want.
It seems they work with local materials and warn me that importing
stone or dyes is going to be very expensive. They quote prices that
are double or more what the current bid is, and even then it doesn't
seem they are confident they could produce what I want.
I feel like I'm going against the grain and it is wearing me down.
What is your advice on building an attractive driveway at a reasonable
I'm sorry I can't help with driveway options, but as someone in the
midst of a home construction, I symathize with your plight. just
cause you've seen a neat detail on TV or elsewhere, don't count on
getting it done locally. If they try something new and different and
it goes south, it makes them look bad and you are disappointed. Can't
blame them, really.
Along the same lines, is the rest of the lot and surroundings so hideous
that you want to draw everyone's eyes to the driveway pavement? (Tough
Sometimes you want things to recede visually so that something else can be
Have you considered a concrete paver driveway? They come in a variety of
colors and shapes which you could install in numerous patterns. It could
potentially be a do-it-yourself project if you're so inclined. My wife
and I installed about 300 SF on a weekend last summer for just over $4 a
square foot. We're planning to put in another 500 SF or so this next
summer. That's one nice thing about pavers, you could do it in stages if
you wish. And, if you need to do any underground work for some reason
(running electrical, drain pipes, etc.), pavers are easy to take up and
put back down. If you keep a few extras around, you could also make
repairs easily if one should get stained or cracked.
Of course, the standard gravel drive works well too. It's very
inexpensive, easy to install, drains nicely, and is simple to repair and
maintain. If you want to get fancy, use a different type or color of rock
for the final surface layer.
If you want concrete, you can choose the basic grey, various dyes,
stamped surfaces, and exposed aggregates. If the drive is fairly
straight, maybe you could do the old style "strips" with grass or gravel
in the middle.
Another option is asphalt, which is a very popular driveway material in
my area. Just your basic black.
I have no idea what the cost is, but every year at our county fair there
is a company promoting epoxy based driveways. I don't know anything
about the surface prep (i.e. if it goes over a concrete base), but they
have displays showing a wide variety of stone colors and textures. Looks
nice, but I always assumed it would be out of our price range (Since I
have never seen any drives actually done this way).
Neighbor down the street has what appears to be an asphalt driveway. Deep
black color, really pops out at you. Closer inspection seems to have a
rubberized compound embedded with the asphalt, not really asphalt per se.
Its been down for 3 years that I know of, no weatherizing of color is
visible so far.
Thanks for your advice on this. The reason I was asking about
suggestions for an attractive looking driveway (at reasonable cost)
was because we have a good looking house and wanted to have a nice
looking driveway. Why do something that is not good looking when,
with a little effort and expense, you can create something you and
others will be pleased to view?
What we decided on in the end is a standard concrete (integral color
was out of sight and no one wanted to do it anyway) with a colorant on
top to give it a lighter, cream color, and then we had them do a rock
salt finish. You get big chunky rock salt and throw it into the still
soft concrete. After it sets up, you wash away the salt. The pits
give the concrete a natural stone like finish. We had someone lined
up to do diamond shaped engraving in which the expansion joints would
be part of the design, but he went missing and right now it is
It's a pity you live in Columbia, SC. If you were here, I could give
some recommendations. The finish you decided upon is different than
what you pointed to on that site. What was on that site is easy. I
don't understand why you were having trouble finding someone to do
And integral color is easy  too. You just add it to the mix and
wait a while (40 turns is what they say, but you don't really need to
count). The price depends on the color and the concentration of the
color. Concrete Network has some info:
Red Brick is the most expensive. On the last color project I did, I
bought some expensive coloring available form Carter-Waters Corp and
spent about $660. The price of the concrete (material only) was a bit
over $4.5K. Thus, color added 15% to the price of the concrete.
The customer was worried at first because in the precured state the
color is darker than what it will be. The final color was just right.
If I may say so myself, the result was beautiful.
 There's a little brain work necessary. If the size of the project
requires more than one truck of concrete, then you need to make sure
the color of both matches.
(||) Nehmo (||)
We had about 3,000 square feet of surface. I think they were counting
on 7 truckloads. Integral color was something that was going to cost
more because they had to add the bags by hand, I was told. I found
it frustrating dealing with suppliers who would be happy to give me
what they do and are comfortable with but don't want to give me what I
want! I kept getting concrete people pushing stamped concrete on
me. Sorry, I look at that and am reminded of those fake linoleum or
vinyl brick and stone kitchen floors from the 1960s. And w 3000 sf,
it was just too expensive.
I think, in the end, we found something that will look good but not be
the center of attention as you drive by or walk up to the house, and
all at a reasonable price.
7 truckloads? A smaller truck holds 10 (cubic) yards. And many trucks
hold 11. A yard ^3 is 27 cubic feet.
For example: Say a 6 inch thick slab. A cubic foot will then make 2
square feet of slab. A yard ^ will then make 2 x 27, which is 54
square feet. 3,000/54 = 55.5 . Thus, less than 6 trucks, counting
error margin, a thick slab and smaller trucks.
And adding color by hand? How did you expect them to add it? By mouth?
You just pour it into the mixer truck as I described.
How much are you paying for this job?
(||) Nehmo (||)
As I understood it, one way to add colorant is to dump it in the truck
and mix it (integral) and the other is to add a color hardner
broadcasting it by hand from the bags after the cement is poured.
They did the latter. I'm not a contractor; I'm a home owner learning
about this as I go. Why would you want to make such an insulting
remark I wonder? I thought these groups were a place for people to
share information, not make gratuitous attacks.
Re the question on the cost: I don't have a separate price for the
cost of the driveway, but I'm now working with the general contractor
on a cost plus basis, so it will be what it will be. We have not
settled up on the final tally yet. Still some work to be done.
It looks good and I'm glad I went to the extra effort to have
something a little extraordinary done.
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