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Designer driveways

Urbanites who choose a downtown lifestyle often have to put up with the drudgery of street parking. If you’re lucky enough to have a driveway – why not beautify it?

Many folks have turned to stamped concrete, also known as pattern imprinted concrete, for a new luxurious look that replicates a natural texture without the price point of all-natural materials. Raffy Hanimyan, owner of Elite Designed Concrete, says stamped concrete sometimes has the reputation of being slippery. “But here at Elite we put the rumours to rest by mixing a non-slip additive into the sealer,” explains Hanimyan. “And that pretty much eliminates the slipperiness altogether.”

Driveways can also be upgraded with a combined asphalt/ stamped concrete look. For example, the bulk of the driveway can be composed of strictly asphalt, but then a decorative stamped cement flourish will frame the garage and continue to form a pathway towards the house’s front entrance.

Though Elite offers a two-year warranty on all jobs, they encourage homeowners to reseal every 3-5 years.

“Every driveway needs ongoing maintenance,” says Hanimyan, “Not only to protect it from the harsh elements, but to preserve the colour palate as well.”

Scott Duff, owner of Aura Landscaping, insists interlock driveways are worth every extra penny they cost. “If you think about it, interlock has been with us since Roman times,” says Duff, “and that interlock is still standing. So its durability pretty much speaks for itself.” Costlier than stamped concrete or asphalt, interlock also requires a more intricate construction. “I’m usually going down 18-20 inches into the land itself,” Duff notes, “As opposed to the 8 inches required by cement or asphalt.”

For Duff, interlock offers what no other driveway can – design versatility. “Whatever you can imagine in terms of colour or design, we can do,” he says. “There really is no limit.” And the return on investment with an interlock driveway is unparalleled. For clients with high-end properties, Duff insists only interlock will do.

There’s no question that interlock ensures a beautiful curb appeal and makes resale a cinch. As a test, Duff challenges doubters to drive through an expensive neighbourhood to view homes side by side – those with asphalt and those with interlock. “Do the comparison yourself and you’ll notice that there is none. If I’m choosing between purchasing two expensive homes – and one has interlock and the other doesn’t – my decision has been made.”

If higher-end options aren’t in the budget, a good clean coat of asphalt is a popular choice for giving your driveway a facelift. Sam Volante, owner of Nortown Paving, says asphalt delivers good value for the cost. “Let’s face it, asphalt remains popular because of its price,” says Volante. “But it’s also easy to maintain.”

Having been in the business since 1978, Volante is partial to his product. “It’s no-nonsense,” he says, “And it’s a good product, especially if you are constructing the driveway onto a sandy soil.”

While it’s possible to install asphalt onto clay-like soil, it can also slow down the water drainage during heavy rains – which puts the asphalt at a higher risk for cracking. Discuss this carefully with your installer before you go ahead.

Regardless of your budget, everyone agrees that a driveway makeover is an easy way to add to the resale value and enjoyment of your home. With a bit of landscaping and accent lighting, a driveway upgrade can add serious curb appeal. Don’t overlook the potential!

Let It Glow

Don’t let your designer driveway disappear when the sun goes down.

You’ve built an incredible driveway and landscaped around it. Show off your masterpiece in style by bringing it alive at night. Beautiful landscape lighting shows off all the beauty you’ve worked so hard to create.

Lighting is not usually a DIY project – it requires a practiced, artistic eye. It’s best to hire a landscape lighting expert who knows the ins and outs of angles and wattage. Have the professionals trick-out your property in environmentally-friendly, LED brilliance to generate the perfect ambiance. Scott Duff recommends spending approximately 10-15% of the overall cost of your landscaping project on lighting to really show off your property. It’s under the soft hues of subdued lighting that your designer driveway really shines.