We received lots of reader comments — 84 so far — when Jane asked how to improve her driveway covered with pinky-gray concrete pavers. I promised I’d be back with my thoughts on the issue. Summing them up: It would be a cold, cold day in Don Mills before I could ever imagine tearing out a fully functional — heck, a more functional — $30,000 driveway to replace it with a $15,000 driveway for aesthetic reasons. Yes, I think that pavers likely make for a better driveway because, as numerous commenters pointed out, they are permeable (allow for water to seep through rather than contribute to wash out) and they also are resistant to freeze-thaw cycles. Okay, so the pink pavers are not aesthetically to Jane’s liking. What would I do? The big answer: Stain the concrete pavers — and I was able to get a great video posted onto YouTube so we could all learn how to stain concrete. Continue on for four ideas, in all, for Jane’s driveway, along with the video and links to Rust-Oleum’s concrete stain products.
Readers had great ideas, and I read through them all several times. Which ones would I consider, if the driveway were mine?
(1) First, I loved Jacy’s comment suggesting to take out the big concrete “railroad tie” edging pieces, they are calling too much attention to the driveway. She said:
Okay, here’s a twist to what everyone has been saying. Yes, I understand you don’t like the pavers, but honestly, I don’t think it is the pavers that are the problem. The brickwork is fantastic, but it’s the edging of the driveway I have a BIG issue with. The EDGING of your driveway is demanding all the attention away from the house.
WIth it being a RAISED, STRAIGT edging, the driveway is requiring everyone’s attention.
Solution: Before removing the entire driveway, please remove the edging first. Then take step back and take a look. Just that little bit of work will completely change the look of the driveway as well as the house. The geometric pattern of the driveway fits with the “Geometric 50?s”. So, start small before you spend all that money on something you might hate in the end.
I think Jacy’s suggestion is a great one. Yes, those “railroad ties” are very functional and lordy, it looks like they will never ever move. But I am betting you could find something much lower profile to achieve the same function, and the expense may be worth the aesthetic benefit.
(2) Second, I agreed with commenters who suggested staining the concrete. Jane seemed to like the idea, too. So, I reached out to my friends at Rustoleum. Yes, they said, in both the U.S. and Canada, they have a product available specifically to stain concrete driveways and walkways — Rust-Oleum Semi-Transparent Concrete Stain – and it should be able to change the color of Jane’s pavers as well. You can even do this DIY, if you are brave and patient.
Rustoleum pointed me to a 20-minute video about how to stain concrete on their Canadian website. It was just in a media player, kind of hard to get at. So, I asked if they could upload it to YouTube so that I could show it here. They pronto did it. So today: We get to host the global blogging world online premier of that thriller, “Rust-Oleum Concrete Stain.“ Woot! O00000h, how riveting can it get, watching the step-by-step process to prep, stain and seal concrete? Pretty riveting. In fact, it made my day, I feel like a total DIY geek without ever lifting a paint brush. Note, and this seems important: I think I heard them say that you can’t use this if your concrete has previously been sealed; might be a job-stopper for a lot of folks, since I think driveway sealing is pretty common these days.
Here are additional details from Rust-Oleum’s Brand and Communications teams — covering both the U.S. and Canada, since Jane is in Ontario:
I see our Canadian brand manager responded to you directly, so here’s the information from the U.S. too. Rust-Oleum Semi-Transparent Concrete Stain is also available in the US in kits, gallons and an aerosol spray for smaller projects. Its available in a multitude of natural colors and is a good solution for transforming pavers with rich color. And it’s water-based, so its DIY friendly.
It’s important to note that a stained or sealed surface can become slippery when wet. Here is the link to the US website and to the Canadian website.
[I (Pam) had also asked about a product that Rust-Oleum has to cover garage floors with "chips." The team responsed:] Also, regarding your question about the coating with chips. I believe you’re referring to Rust-Oleum EpoxyShield Garage Floor Coating, which is a great product. However, it is not intended for exterior concrete application. Hope we’ve answered your questions – for both your U.S. and Canadian readers.
(3) I also agree that landscaping should be and important part of the aesthetic fix-it solution. You want to use landscaping to pull your eye away from the driveway up toward the house. For example, you could extend your front walkway to meander and connect further up the driveway to pull some visual interest forward. Add a pole light where the longer walkway meets the driveway! Add a planter box! Landscape along the walk! Put a matching pendant chandelier in front of that window hanging down to the front door! Boom! Those eyes will pull right up from the driveway straight to the house. You have a lot of space in front of the house, you could even have a larger patio in front. And, I thought the idea from the reader who suggest pulling up a paver here and there and planting it with grass or moss had potential; I might hold this for last, though, after any new hardscape (patio, walkways, statuary, lighting) and any softscape (plants) are in. Oh, this will be so much fun!
(4) Relately, paint your door a bold color. Cobalt or Royal Blue, perhaps. Pull those eyes — away from the whatever driveway — and up to the pretty house!
Thanks very much to Rust-Oleum for the help with this story and video. And thanks to everyone who took the time to make comments to help Jane with her driveway puzzle. Hey, there are at least three more stories for me to write from your comments. “Tar and Chip or macadam driveways.” “Hollywood driveways.” And, “Aggregate driveways” although somewhere in the comments is a better name for them, I believe. It’ll be, “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Midcentury Driveways But Were Afraid to Ask.” Life is nuts. Just nuts.