Home > Concrete & Tarmac > Types of Concrete for Driveways & Patios

Types of Concrete for Driveways & Patios

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 4 Jun 2015 | comments*Discuss
Driveway Drive Block Brick Pic Imprinted

Plain poured concrete has, for decades, been one of the cheapest ways of laying down a hard surface such as a driveway, but there's no denying that it looks cheap, too. There are a number of products around that can improve the looks, but first of all let's look at the benefits of plain old concrete.

Plain Poured Concrete

We've mentioned the cost already, and although the pouring and laying of the wet stuff can be a mucky job, it's probably quicker than laying blocks or bricks over the same area, unless your house has a very short drive. The groundworks are certainly no worse than a block drive. If you have good ground, you may get away with digging to half the depth and not having to lay a sub-base either (see our article Excavating for a Driveway.)

You may have to put together some edging, either permanent and decorative, or something temporary, just while the concrete is setting, but again that's probably less work than laying a proper edge course for a block or flag drive. Choosing between these options is covered in our article on Laying Concrete in this section.

Once it's laid, there's very little you can do to decorate concrete other than making grooves with a brush. Although that is something you should do anyway, to aid drainage and give a sure footing in wet conditions rather than for looks. On the other hand, techniques having been coming to the market over the last 20 years that can improve the look of concrete substantially.

Patterned and Textured Concrete

Pattern imprinted concrete (PIC), sometimes called 'stamped' or 'textured' concrete, has a pattern imprinted on it after it's been laid but before it has dried. Colour dyes can be added before the stamping, so there really is no limit to the look you can have. The imprinting then takes place, which is really just like potato stamps, but on a larger scale.

The moulds are large alloy or plastic mats with a pattern embossed on them in reverse. They are then laid on top of the concrete and tamped down to imprint the pattern.

There are two basic categories of pattern. The first is more of a texture, such as 'slate' or 'stone' rather than a pattern, and is easier to lay as there's less precision involved. The other includes more regular patterns where a lot of care must be taken to align each mat with its neighbour. There are a multitude of patterns available in this second category, the most popular in the UK being a brick herringbone pattern or various stone patterns, although cobbles do well, too.

PIC Laying is Not For the Inexperienced

It must be pointed out that, apart from being obviously more expensive than laying plain concrete, PIC laying is not an easy thing to do. It requires skill and practice, and for that reason it's not really suitable as a DIY job. Therefore, it's essential to Employ A Contractor who has done many drives before, using this technique, and can give you references for happy customers in your area that you can go and see and talk to.
You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
@Kate. We have two articles on the site that might help you. You could try: spot patching the drive yourself or plant patching to disguise cracks and holes .
DrivewayExpert - 8-Jun-15 @ 12:18 PM
I have a concrete driveway that is tired looking with pockets of cracks and holes.I have very limited money and need to put my house on the market a.s.a.p., what is the best way to either patch up or make more attractive (inexpensively) the driveway in order to attract people to the curb appeal.
kate - 4-Jun-15 @ 9:03 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • TheResinMan
    Re: Resin Bound Driveway Surfacing
    MITCH - This is quite unusual as white patches are an indication that moisture is present upon install but shouldn't be…
    11 November 2018
  • TheResinMan
    Re: Resin Bound Driveway Surfacing
    exsigs - With regard to the headlights of your car highlighting inperfections, this is quite normal. You have to understand…
    11 November 2018
  • Improvement
    Re: Considering Drainage on Your Driveway
    Hi do I need driveway permit when the rainwater run off to the road? Regards
    24 October 2018
  • Pipoc
    Re: Planning Permission for Driveways
    30 years ago we closed off a drive and started using a different one, The old drive is still there but it is under soil and…
    17 October 2018
  • sav
    Re: Planning Permission for Driveways
    hi i have a nabour we live on a walk and the highways department have removed the bollards and made a hard standing so my…
    16 October 2018
  • daveo
    Re: Can Gravel be Laid on Top of Tarmac?
    Hello, I have a tarmacked drive which is 25 years old, the same age as the property, it is looking very tired, the…
    12 October 2018
  • Gander
    Re: Planning Permission for Driveways
    I am purchasing a rural property near Chichester.and would like to create an entrance further along the lane from the…
    19 September 2018
  • KellyB
    Re: Resin Bound Driveway Surfacing
    I had resin laid about 6 month ago but I have noticed dips on it where my car tyres have been sat. Is this normal or do I need…
    12 September 2018
    Re: Resin Bound Driveway Surfacing
    Our resin driveway as been down a couple of years it is red/green and has developed white patches how can we bring the shine back
    3 September 2018
  • TreeFern
    Re: Planning Permission for Driveways
    We want to convert part of our front garden into a driveway, but to access the driveway we would have to drive through a…
    25 August 2018