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How Much Does a Stained Concrete Driveway Cost?

Concrete is one of the most diverse and durable construction materials in the world, which is why it does so well in exterior applications. As contractors can make molds and frames in a wide range of shapes and sizes, they can create everything from a walkway through a garden to a driving path. Stained concrete, which has a stain applied to the surface, is strong enough for use as a driveway.

The Costs 

Average cost for stained concrete driveways per square foot:

  • Minimum: $4
  • Maximum: $15

Concrete is a highly affordable building material that will work with almost any budget. The traditional concrete driveway starts at $4 per square foot and stops at around $10 per square foot. Sealed concrete usually costs a little more. Homeowners can expect to add between $2 and $4 per square foot for the detailing work done on the top of the driveway. More detailed designs involve much more work and may require some special equipment. Those looking to add a detailed driveway made to look like brick or stone and those interested in incorporating a special design may pay up to $15 per square foot.

Factors that Affect Total Cost

Not all concrete driveways cost the same amount of money and homeowners will find that a variety of factors determines their overall costs. One of the largest of those factors is the type of design chosen. A design that features multiple coats of stain will cost more than a driveway that only requires one coat of stain. Some companies will also charge more for the sealant used on the driveway. If the company needs to demolish and remove an existing driveway or anything else, the price will also rise. Acid etching and washing an existing driveway before applying a stain is usually cheaper than building a new driveway.

What is Stained Concrete?

Stained concrete can refer to one of two different things. The first process of creating stained concrete is similar to the process of installing any other concrete surfaces. The contractor will apply the stain to the top of the concrete while it is still wet. This produces a more true to life color than when the contractor adds pigment to wet concrete and mixes it into the material. The other process is suitable for cured and dried concrete surfaces. A contractor applies an acid solution to the surface that eats through the sealant and top layers before applying the new stain color.

What is the Installation of a Concrete Driveway?

To install a new concrete driveway, the designer first uses a series of wood boards to create a frame that keeps the wet concrete from seeping out onto the lawn and other surfaces, using nails and screws to hold the boards together. After pouring the mixed concrete into the frame, the contractor lets the concrete dry overnight or for several days before applying the stain while the concrete is still slightly wet and soft. Those looking for a brighter, darker or more saturated color may ask the contractor to apply the stain after the concrete cures and to cover the stain with a sealant.

Advantages of Stained Concrete Driveways

One advantage of stained concrete is the diverse nature of the material. The manufacturers of concrete stains produce those stains in colors ranging from light shades of tan and brown to darker shades of green and blue. While the concrete is still wet, the contractor can use embossing tools and other equipment to create unique designs and patterns in the concrete. This lets homeowners create the designs that they want and ensure they have a more custom design. Some designers will use hand detailing to add natural looking elements to the surface.

When used with a sealant, stained concrete is just as durable as nearly any other material used in a driveway. The sealant serves as a waterproof barrier between the concrete and runoff from snow and rain. A good sealant will also provide a barrier that blocks out oil and other fluids from vehicles. Homeowners can easily wipe away the oil with a damp cloth or use kitty litter to absorb the fluids.

Disadvantages of Stained Concrete Driveways

Though stained concrete is extremely durable, it doesn't hold up well to constant traffic. Those who use their driveways more often will usually find that they need to make repairs to the area every few years, and the concrete may only last for a period of five years. Concrete can also develop chips and cracks due to cold temperatures and high humidity levels, rainfall or snow. When damage occurs, homeowners will need to repair the areas with new concrete. It may be difficult to replace the original stain with a matching color. Depending on the amount of damage, homeowners may need to use acid to etch away the old stain and apply a new stain over the entire driveway.

Stained vs. Stamped Concrete

The main difference between stained and stamped concrete driveways is with the surface structure. When installing a stamped concrete driveway, the contractor will use a special tool to create a stamp, pattern or design on the top of the concrete. Contractors specializing in stamped concrete can also use pigments in the wet concrete that changes its color once it dries. Some companies will combine the two processes to create a driveway that features various colors and a unique design on the surface.

Comparing Other Driveway Materials

When comparing stained concrete to other driveway materials, many homeowners will find that stained concrete comes out on top. Stained concrete consists of one solid piece, while driveways made from pavers and stones feature hundreds of individual pieces. Those pieces can shift and move, which increases the chances of damaging vehicles driving on the surface. Stained concrete also comes in more color options than other materials, which gives homeowners more choices over the finished design. There are even methods that use multiple colors in the finished driveway, which gives it more of a decorative appeal.

Last updated on May 18, 2016

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