Many of the driveways seen today that look like flagstones, intricate paving designs or block paving are pattern imprinted concrete (PIC). This is where a Concrete Driveway is laid down then a series of patterned moulds are laid over it while it sets, giving a passable imitation of many different popular types of stone or block. Colour can also be added using the correct pigments, completing the illusion.
Pros and Cons of PIC
There are two key points to bear in mind about PIC. The first is that it isn’t quite as resilient as a plain concrete driveway, and nowhere near as strong as some of the driveway types that it imitates. It also leaves an uneven surface. For these reasons it is only suitable for residential drives, paths or patio areas, or lightly trafficked commercial parking areas.
The second is that it is not really a DIY job. Laying PIC means getting hold of the moulds, which would be too expensive to buy for one domestic job and they aren’t often available for hire. In addition, getting the right concrete consistency and applying hardener agents and pigments properly can really only be learned by training and experience. A DIY job can be very expensive disaster.
Having said that, there are many advantages to using pattern imprinted concrete for a drive. The cost and time should be somewhere in between plain concrete and a block paving or flagstone drive, giving you the looks of one with costs close to the other. Just make sure it’s the right way round!
Huge Choice of Patterns and Textures
There’s a wide variety of colours and patterns available. The moulds can imitate bricks, different flags and blocks. Then there are textures rather than patterns, slate or stone effects without imitation seams between individual blocks or flags. Herringbone and other block laying patterns are available, but it’s important to make sure the moulds are laid in a sequence that hides the pattern repetition as much as possible.
There are even patterns and colourings that can imitate wooden decking! But the most successful are probably the rougher, less uniform textures, as small imperfections don’t show up.
It’s better to pick a colour that’s not too far removed from natural concrete. Blues, greens and reddish colours are available, but as the coloured top layer of the drive wears off, particularly if the drive receives more traffic than was originally intended, the wear reveals concrete underneath.
Search for the Right Contractors
Having pointed out that laying a PIC drive is not a DIY job, we must also warn about contractors. Do not use a general builder unless they can show you that they have successfully laid pattern imprinted concrete before. Also stories are coming through of some PIC contractors acting like double-glazing companies of old.
So use the usual safeguards when engaging any maintenance or building firm. Ask to see driveways they have laid at other customer locations and Get At Least Three Quotes, preferably in writing, before committing to a contractor.