Picking out a new car and deciding on what type driveway you need are similar choices. Both are long term decisions that you have to live with for years. The options with automobiles are too numerous to count. With driveways there are two main options: concrete or asphalt.
What’s the difference, you might ask? Let’s start with the material…
Concrete and asphalt are not totally different. Both have sand and rock in them. However, the difference is the binder. Concrete’s binder comes from limestone, while asphalt’s binder is made from crude oil.
Both the limestone and crude oil will produce a hard surface that allows residential cars and heavy vehicles to drive on.
Once we get past the makeup of these two types of driveways, then we can break down the key pros and cons.
Why are most streets and highways paved with asphalt? It is less expensive to use asphalt. The same holds true on small residential driveways. If you are working on a strict budget then asphalt is the way to go.
Although concrete costs more than asphalt, it tends to last longer. More specifically, concrete can last up to 20-30 years. Asphalt driveways would need to be patched up to seal cracks, they would need to be re-sealed, and they might eventually have to be repaved.
Concrete can develop cracks also. But when a trusted professional does the job, cracks are much more rare than with asphalt. One thing that we like to let our customers know in the winter is that putting salt on concrete is damaging. Read our post on why you shouldn’t put salt on your concrete!
Other issues that might be more problematic on concrete are:
- Oil stains
- Grime that is hidden on asphalt is visible on concrete
- Having to wait a few days before using a new driveway
A huge plus that puts concrete above asphalt is the trend of decorative concrete driveways. There isn’t much you can do to dress up a blacktop driveway. But with concrete there are a ton of options. Most of which are Instagram worthy and make visitors envious of your hard surfaces.
An even bigger wow-factor comes into play with stamped concrete, which allows for driveway decoration. Stamping comes with many colors and patterns so it often makes it hard for homeowners to choose a favorite!
To summarize, there are some differences between concrete and asphalt. If you are looking for something inexpensive and quick, we would recommend getting an asphalt driveway. If you are working with a higher budget or want to add a personal touch to your driveway, then concrete is the way to go!
Now, you wouldn’t buy that new car or truck without a test drive. So we also suggest that you schedule an appointment today, and get a quote on both types of driveways for your home or business. Call us at 215-919-6600 or send us a message!
I find it easier to go into a home improvement project if I know a little about the tools or products involved. So this article should help those out there who are looking to start a concrete project.
Less confusion is a great thing when it comes to any task. Here are some basic terms that are related to the process itself:
- Pouring – this is the literal term for how concrete is put in place. On a micro-scale it can be poured from a bucket or wheel barrel. On large sites it is poured out of a big truck with the spinning tank everyone can recognize.
- Finishing relates to the smoothing out of the concrete after it is in place. This is done with various tools depending on the stage of the finishing. The end result is a nice hard surface that began as a lumpy mix of sand, stone, cement, and water.
- Curing begins after the concrete finishing ends. In layman terms it is the process that new concrete goes through to attain its long term strength.
While we are soaking up concrete knowledge, how about some fun facts?
- Concrete is the most widely used material in the world, according to Wikipedia. This makes sense because building projects need long-lasting materials and concrete has stood the test of time.
- That test started back in the 14th century. That’s how far back researchers found evidence of its use. The Great Pyramids would be in better shape had concrete been available back in the days of King Tut!
Moving forward with our concrete terminology:
- The term “slab” confuses some folks. A slab is a strip of concrete laid as a single unjointed piece. Slabs are used for foundations, small patios, and grill/hot tub areas.
- One term that is often associated with patios, driveways, and walkways is “stamped concrete.” This is a process that enhances concrete surfaces. Concrete craftsmen use special techniques and tools to create a textured look before the concrete dries. This can be a less expensive way to create a nice patio without using bricks, pavers, or other stones.
- So what’s the difference between stamped concrete and stained concrete? Most homeowners can guess that staining is a way to change the color of their concrete, which is correct. Staining is a good idea for a fresh look on an old walkway or pool area. Staining is for decorative use, but did you know that it will also seal and protect your concrete surfaces?
- Did you know that cement is not the same as concrete? As a kid, I didn’t know this was the case. However, as any construction person knows, cement is an ingredient that goes into the creation of concrete. The other three materials needed to mix in are water, sand, and stone (usually gravel).
Hopefully you are more familiar with concrete terminology at this point and it helps you when you start a project using this versatile building material. You wouldn’t go shopping for a boat without knowing some keywords like outboard, deck, or hull. Information is power!
If you have a concrete project in mind, please give us a call today and schedule an appointment. Call us at 215-919-6600 or send us a message here!
Are you thinking about your career? Want to start something new? Why not consider a career in the trade industry? A concrete finisher perhaps? Here’s why we think choosing a career in concrete construction has lots of advantages and you should really consider it:
Quick start career with good pay: No college degree required! Start with a high school diploma – that’s all you need. Starting wages are $30-40,000/year and go up based on experience.
Awesome lifelong potential: There will always be concrete work that needs to be done. Concrete construction skills transfer from state to state. Be employable no matter where you want to live.
Learn from the best: Receive on-the-job training and mentorship from experienced concrete finishers. You’ll get hands-on training while you invest in learning a lifelong trade.
Great advancement possibilities: Work up to a construction management career–from laborer to flatwork finisher to foreman to site superintendent to estimator to project manager.
Love your job: Spend your days outdoors where there is always a change of scenery (different job sites). Take pride in building projects around the community. Concrete projects will be around for decades. Be artistic! Take imperfect ingredients (cement, water, rock, sand) and mold them into something creative and cool.
Be part of an awesome family: be a valuable team member, be part of the “concrete brotherhood”!
Be a concrete laborer/finisher/foreman!
Do you know why your own backyard is the best place to tailgate for football games?
Because it’s your backyard!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Just like your favorite team loves playing at home and dominates on their own turf, you can take tailgating to the next level when you don’t even have to leave your driveway.
Sure, you can brave the traffic to tailgate downtown to watch your Philadelphia Eagles or favorite college team. But you might end up in the hot sun or a half mile from a porta potty.
So the best way to gameplan against all that trouble is to have the perfect place to tailgate at home. A nice living room with a monster TV is fine, but football was made to watch outdoors.
You can make that a reality by creating your own mini stadium at home on the back patio. Don’t come in half stepping like a scared quarterback on a winless team though. You want to make sure your backyard setup is perfect for all your buddies to enjoy along with their wives.
The smell of ribs on the grill set out on a beautiful stone patio, with a mini waterfall on the side, is a sports fan’s dream!
And don’t forget the kids.
You don’t want your children hanging out with the enemy’s kids down the street on gameday. You know, the guy with the team flag from a college 2,000 miles away.
You want to make your tailgating facility top notch so all the neighborhood kids come to your home field.
There’s lots of ways to make that happen.
- A stone fireplace for those cold winter nights as the football season winds down. You don’t even need a TV when you have a fire going. Good thing too, because football season doesn’t last forever.
- A scenic walkway that winds along your lovely flower beds makes for a relaxing space as guests arrive for the gameday eats.
- The perfect backdrop for your prized big screen TV is a powerful retaining wall that reminds you of that timeless football stadium that you visited as a kid.
Take a look around our showcase photos on the website. I know you’ll see some options that will take your backyard tailgating to the next level.
There’s nothing like having a perfect setting to watch your favorite team take the field each weekend. Not to mention watching your little boy fall asleep on your lap as the game ends in overtime late into the night.
You’ll appreciate a patio made for tailgating even more as the years pass. That sleepy kid you toted to his bed after the big wins, will no doubt grow up and return year after year to catch games with you all.
One day bringing his own family by to tailgate in the backyard you took time to make so special.
Tailgating is all about family and community. Making that a reality just a few steps away from your own refrigerator and couch may sound too good to be true.
But with a backyard addition here and there, you will be the king of tailgate parties on your block.
Feel free to use those bragging rights on the rival neighbor down the road with his tattered team flag.
And please let us know how we can help.
Quick, think of the filthiest do-it-yourself job around your house.
- Cleaning out the garbage disposal? Good one. It’s pretty gross in there. What’s your kid tossing in that thing?
- How about blowing wet leaves out of your gutters? It’s a great way to ruin a shirt and get decomposed leaves all over your siding.
- Of course nobody likes scrubbing a toilet. Well maybe your weirdo aunt who’s a known germaphobe.
Take your pick of the dirty jobs above. They all suck, to be blunt. They involve grimy conditions that humans do not enjoy. Still they don’t stack up to the dirty job of…..
Sure your deck needs the mildew washed off with a pressure washer every year or so. And that concrete driveway wasn’t meant to look dingy year round.
So the logical thing to most people is to go rent a pressure washer from the paint store and go at it, full blast. They think it’s easy. Just spray some bleach around and use the machine to blow away dirt, grime, and mold.
Here’s a secret.
Since power washing is not truly easy and gets the user really dirty (and wet), most homeowners are one and done. Meaning after that first rental of a pressure washer, they choose to hire out that service next time.
Some folks don’t even get through the first use before giving up! You may have noticed some homes with clean siding up to about ten feet, then still dirty past that point.
You see, running a machine you have no experience with is the issue. If you are an accountant, you don’t use gas powered washers for tax returns I’m guessing.
Or if you own a beauty salon, you don’t need this type tool to wash hair….on most clients anyway.
Along with being a nastier job than gutter cleaning or toilet scrubbing, power washing has other pitfalls.
- These powerful jets of water can hurt the user. Oodles of people visit emergency rooms each year because of bad cuts from the tip of the sprayer.
- How are you gonna haul that machine back to your house in a Volkswagen?
- Inexperienced users can destroy their home’s exterior and even hard surfaces like brickwork with a power washer. It’s not meant to be a chisel or a jackhammer for Pete’s sake.
- Actually buying a small washer makes sense to some homeowners, until they realize how dirty a job it is. Oh, and they are storing a machine they only use once a year. That means it probably won’t crank easily, or at all, after sitting idle for 11 months and 29 days.
Look, I would never discourage a DIYer.
I admire that will to do things on your own.
It’s just that I like saving people from nightmarish scenarios. And for my money, power washing for the average “civilian” just isn’t something they need to try.
Our guys can run a washer for ten hours and stay relatively clean. They know what they’re doing, so they have little tricks to the trade.
Still, even the pros don’t walk away from a power washing job with a dry pair of pants or boots. With some spots on their clothes as well.
If you insist on doing some power washing yourself, I applaud you.
Just make sure to grab some old (very old) clothes out of the back of your closet before you begin a job too nasty for even Mike Rowe.
Some things are cool to keep around the house even after they have a ton of miles on them. Outdated or damaged steps do not make the list I’m afraid.
Unsightly stairs leading to your home are not like that 12-year old German Shepherd. You love that animal as much as your spouse!
So you put up with the shedding and chewed up remote controls, along with your pet’s lazy disposition in his old age.
Likewise, you are still hanging on to those bedroom slippers with holes in the toe area. But dang it….. they are still the softest shoes known to mankind.
On the other hand, there’s nothing nostalgic about pitted or chipped steps leading to your front door or back deck. If they need replacing or re-poured, then how about making plans to do just that.
You’re not remodeling the bathroom and being forced to use the tiny second bathroom upstairs for weeks. This little project can be done in a day.
We’d love to transform your “accident waiting to happen,” into an elegant entrance to the interior of your home. You won’t believe the selection of materials available compared to just ten years ago.
You get the picture right? It’s night and day going from decade old steps to a solid built stairway made of your choice of stone.
If you need some specific reasons to replace your exterior steps, we have you covered.
- Most importantly, you could fall on stairs that are no longer sturdy. They won’t magically become more stable if they are shaky currently.
- What kind of impression do visitors get when they walk up your front steps? It is the path they take to the inside of your home. Who says people don’t judge a book by its cover?
- With decrepit old stairs you run the risk of them affecting the stability of the handrail as it loosens from chipped stone. Not to mention hurting the looks of the area where you hang out for BBQs and chillax on a swing.
- Curb appeal applies to anything folks see from the street. Unless your steps are camouflaged (please don’t) they affect the view from the curb.
- If and when you sell your house, people will notice ragged stairs leading them to their potential new home. A simple replacement project could be the difference between getting the sale early in the process and having to wait.
To sum up, I’m not judging you for hanging onto things past their prime. My wife has let me hang around well after I hit my peak.
Just make sure you’re keeping the right things around that don’t need replacing, no matter how many years are tacked on them.
Watching that old dog lumber up some newly redone stone steps to find his favorite chew toy (latest tech device in the home) is a great scene to shoot for.
I’d hate to see a lawyer show up at your house representing that German Shepherd in a slip and fall case because of those ancient steps that finally wore out their welcome!
No need to deny it. I’m not the concrete police. Although I do have an affinity for the material as you may have noticed.
The reason I bring salting driveways up is because we are still in the midst of winter. Don’t let a warm day here and there fool you. Or a lying weatherman with a nice smile.
Winter will be with us a while longer. Consequently we still have to deal with icy conditions. And no one wants to chance slipping on a walkway, winding up in an ER with a concussion or jacked up elbow.
But using salt and other deicers on your hard surfaces around your property simply isn’t a good move. Don’t believe me? Just check out this super-smart looking science guy. That’s not Bill Nye is it?
If you skipped the science lesson in the video from “Dr. Scott” (no Star Trek comments please), here’s the issues with salt use on concrete.
- It can cause corrosion to the rebar underneath the surface. What do you think that does to the main material? Right, it leads to possible crumbling and cracking.
- The chemical damage can also cause surface discoloration depending on the deicer you choose.
- While water that freezes, thaws, then refreezes on concrete is not ideal, it is natural. Thus quality concrete walkways and drives can handle that. It’s the addition of salt and other chemical deicers that put too much stress on the pores of the concrete.
Clearly winter time can be a bummer. Most sane folks prefer 70-80 degree days. You know, so you can leave the house without dressing like a snowmobile tow-truck driver. Having to deal with icy surfaces is just another negative part of having an actual winter. Folks in San Diego and Hawaii don’t have to deal with stuff like this of course.
But in the greater Philadelphia region, winter comes each and every year without fail.
So what are some alternatives to dumping salt on your precious driveway during these inevitable cold months?
- Keep snow shoveled off the main areas to keep ice to a minimum once the freeze sets in.
- Try pickle brine and urea as a safer alternative.
- Ever eat beets? I hear they’re pretty healthy. Oh and sugar beet juice is a 100 percent natural ice melting liquid – Although no one eats enough beets to have the juice to deice an entire driveway, the front steps could be treated easily.
Perhaps you read this post a little too late. Maybe your dad came over and tried to do a favor by keeping you safe from icy paths. And now you’ve got concrete damage.
Everything can be repaired. If it was built once, it can be rebuilt of course. Either the one section, or you might even use the damaged portion as an excuse to upgrade to a nicer material for your walkway. Hopefully most of you caught this article in time to avoid hurting the walkways and driveways you use daily. We can’t save you from winter, but we can help you protect your property.