Homeowners who want to install or replace a driveway have several options. Types of driveways run the gamut from hard-packed dirt to gravel, asphalt, brick, and cement. There are several reasons why a property owner might choose a cement driveway: the pros include durability, many design options, and functionality. On the con side, cement or concrete may easily develop cracks or the top layer may flake off without proper care. Both can present expensive repairs. Others may simply dislike the look of concrete driveways.
The choice to install a cement driveway is one many owners make because of the material’s durability. Properly cared for driveways may last three decades or more without major flaws appearing. The durability requires little extra effort to maintain, and owners seldom have to put a lot of money toward upkeep of a basic cement driveway.
Cement driveways also offer the possibility of customization. Although cement is basic, its composition provides options other materials don't. For example, a sloping driveway would be difficult to maintain with gravel, which would likely constantly roll down the hill, whereas cement will stay in place. Additionally, concrete driveways can be stamped with design patterns, painted, or have textured finishes to mimic other materials. This couples the durability of cement with the beauty of a fancier finish.
Functionality is another benefit to cement driveways. Concrete can bear the weight of heavy vehicles in a way that a dirt or gravel driveway often cannot. This prevents grooves from forming in the driveway. Cement also effectively handles run-off water, thus moving it away from cars.
There are several reasons why a cement driveway may not be the ideal choice, however. The primary reason is cost: professionals usually are required to pour a cement driveway and repair any damage. Natural or stone driveways can be do-it-yourself projects and therefore less expensive. Good quality cement also is more expensive than alternative driveway materials.
Cement driveways are also prone to cracks. This often occurs during installation if the driveway is not cured properly. Improper jointing also may lead to eventual cracks. Driveway cracks are unsightly and could damage car tires if deep enough. The damage also may be very expensive to repair and could require the installation of a new driveway.
Flaking is another common problem with cement driveways. Flaking is likely to occur if the driveway is salted within the first year of installation. For property owners in snowy or icy areas, salting is hard to avoid, and therefore a cement driveway may not be the best choice.
Some people consider the look of a cement driveway as the biggest drawback. Despite customization options, a cement driveway tends to appear similar and lack characteristics that sets it apart from neighboring installations. Additionally, spills and stains usually are more visible on cement driveways, while other types of materials can mask such flaws.