When you think about it, the driveway is your home’s real welcome mat.
Fifty times larger than the mat on your porch, and more closely scrutinized by people who drive to your home, your driveway is your first chance to make a statement.
And, most times, that statement is: “Our cars leak oil!”
But the great gray monoliths may be on their way out.
“Very few people are doing those anymore,” says David Coyne, vice president of Renaissance Exterior Development, based near Cave Creek. “The majority of our work now is paver driveways, brick, stone or even exposed aggregate.”
Pavers (interlocking decorator bricks) offer a nicer look, a complementary color, and the option of replacing bricks that stain or break. But the cost (approximately $7.50 per square foot) leaves some new homeowners thinking twice. Is there a creative middle?
“We can be as creative as the client’s imagination,” says Dana Boyer. Her firm, Concretizen, uses colored and textured concrete to jazz up countertops, walls and driveways. “We focus on unique designs,” she says. “We’re not a contractor that offers you one of six colors and then calls it a day.”
Concretizen works with business and residential clients to conjure driveways that make a statement. “We can do logos, or develop patterns — it really varies by client,” she says. “We did a home up in Colorado with multiple color separations, sand-blasted chevrons and leaves.”
Creative driveways can run the gamut between bordered granite and paverlike faux stone. “A gray slab driveway is going to run you about $5.50 a square foot,” says Coyne. Granite driveways with a framing concrete ribbon can be had for substantially less than a paver driveway.
“Concrete with a salt finish, or a broom finish, gives you a textured or pitted look for around $5.75 a square foot,” he says. Stained concrete driveways run $6.50 to $7 per square foot, with colored concrete slightly more expensive.
But Coyne says the latter method is worth the extra cost. “Colored concrete is one color mixed throughout. Stained concrete is a color laid on top. Over time, the stain absorbs into the concrete. A year later, the stained concrete will be a significantly different color. And if you chip stained concrete, there’s a different color beneath. Colored concrete is the same all the way through.”
Fancier driveways do demand some upkeep. “This is a harsh environment,” says Boyer. “If you use a bright purple, for example, it’s going to soften in a year. In two, it’ll be very soft.” That means committing to occasional upgrades. “We come out, strip off a couple of layers, recolor and reseal it,” she says. “For a little bit of maintenance, your driveway still looks good.”
Planned community residents beware: If your homeowners association doesn’t approve your driveway first, you’ll be finding them in your driveway later.
“You need to ask questions,” says Phil Vaney of Tempe’s Graystone HOA. Most associations allow leeway on textured surfaces and decorative stone. “But if it’s a major change, visible from the street, there are probably some guidelines on it.”
But Boyer says creative expression and CC&R’s can live together in harmony. “We can work within (HOA) guidelines,” she says. “We utilize the same color and tone as the neighborhood pavers, and still create something you’ll enjoy.”
Renaissance Exterior Development
6363 E. Dixileta Drive Cave Creek (480) 585-7830
1843 E. Superstition Blvd. Apache Junction (602) 369-1792 www.concretizen.com