Driveways offer first impression, options

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Driveways offer first impression, options

The driveway at the brick home of Pat and Linn Matthews was showing its age. There were cracks. And parts of the 24-year-old concrete driveway were crumbling.

The Sandy Springs couple decided it was time for a new driveway. On a referral from a neighbor, the Matthews contacted Dunwoody-based Kevin Murphy Concrete Driveways. Last November, Murphy’s crew removed the old concrete driveway and installed a new one within a few days.

The Matthews are pleased with the work and also how the new driveway updated their home and landscaping. As a real estate agent at Coldwell Banker in Dunwoody, Pat knows a new or maintained driveway can do more.

“The driveway is part of someone’s first impression of your home,” said Pat. “If the driveway is relatively new, it makes a statement (to a possible buyer) that you care about the house and how it looks.”

Just as your front door welcomes visitors into your home, your driveway welcomes guests onto your property. A driveway can be attractive, but it should be functional and durable since it is used on a daily basis.

“Driveways usually are one of the last projects on your home remodeling list,” said Kevin Murphy, whose concrete company does driveway removal and replacement throughout the Atlanta area. “They are expensive, and they can cost as much as a roof.”

If you have plans to replace or upgrade your driveway, consult a driveway replacement professional and consider these tips from Murphy, Ken O’Neill of Belgard Hardscapes and the Landscaping Network.

Use and function. Your driveway can serve several different functions. Do you need a smooth service for basketball or for small children to play? Do you need extra parking for teens or visitors?

Design. The design can range from simple and functional to one that adds interest to the overall look of your home and front yard. Generally, the style of your home should share a similar theme as the driveway.

Drainage. If you have areas of your existing driveway with poor drainage, makes sure your driveway contractor addressing them as part of the job.

Materials. The most popular driveway materials include concrete, asphalt, pavers, brick, stone and gravel.

- Poured concrete is durable, versatile and requires little maintenance. It can be that standard, smooth-poured concrete. Or it can stamped, grooved, etched or colored.

- Pavers are available in a variety of shapes, textures and colors and can be laid in different patterns. Easy to main, permeable pavers are provide excellent drainage for your driveway. If repairs are needed, you can replace pavers in a specific area without redoing the entire driveway.

- Asphalt is a reliable and affordable driveway material. While many people don’t like the way it looks, today’s asphalt offers more options, such as stamping and color.

- Gravel is inexpensive and good choice for many rural areas or homes with a certain architectural style. In areas with lots of rain, gravel can be washed away. Refilling it ever few years adds to your maintenance costs.

- Stone offers excellent drainage and comes in various sizes, shapes and colors, ranging from whites and greys to beiges and black. Like gravel, stone may need to be added every few years to maintain the driveway surface.

- Living or green driveways work in some areas. Theses green driveways feature grass or ground cover interspersed among pavers, concrete or bricks. This design helps reduce heat and glare and provides some drainage.

- Mix & match. Add visual interest with mixed materials. On a poured concrete driveway, add decorative borders or bands of brick, stone or pavers. Increasingly, homeowners are requesting a driveway apron of stone or brick. The apron is the entry point where the driveway widens to meet the road.

Accessories. Use plantings, gates or garden structures to enhance your driveway. Add light fixtures for safety and lighting your driveway at night.

Warranty. Ask your licensed driveway contractor about a warranty on materials or work. For example, Belgard will replace broken pavers under its transferable lifetime warranty.

Budget. The cost of new driveway depends on its size (or square footage), the materials and the labor to install it. If you have a long driveway, you will need more material to pave it. Other factors that could increase the cost include a specialized design, curves, drains and grading.

When working with your budget, factor in the long-term costs and maintenance associated with different types of driveway materials. For example, a concrete driveway or one made of pavers carries relatively high, up-front installation costs, but requires little maintenance if installed correctly.

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