Concrete is used for a multitude of structures and surfaces. For example, concrete is used for buildings, roadways, floors, sidewalks, driveways, walkway systems, patios, porches, floors, countertops, awnings, barriers, highway dividers, and as a stabilizing material for fence posts, poles of all types, mailboxes, and numerous other uses. Without a doubt, a smooth concrete surface is much safer to walk on than dirt, brick, old deteriorated concrete, and grass which can have unseen holes and ruts. The cost of installing a concrete sidewalk, driveway, or walkway is greatly offset by the years of walking and driving on a resilient long-lasting concrete surface. Today, a popular choice is still a smooth plain concrete surface. But if you want to upgrade, there is a lot more that can be done to concrete than even ten years ago. The concrete market has greatly improved with design offerings. Landscape artists are designing curb appealing textured and colored walkways that vastly improve the resale value of a home. There are walkways and driveways that are concrete but designed to look like brick. Cement can be embossed which produces a shiny surface. There are flower designs, or geometric shapes, colored squares, imprinted logos and embellishments, textured borders, and an endless list of designs that far surpass the concrete sidewalks, driveways, and walkways of previous decades. The cost of installing concrete is well worth the return on investment. Resale values may improve 50% or more with a smooth concrete driveway, sidewalk, and an appealing walkway system. For outstanding curb appeal, add a curved stamped walkway to your home’s entrance.
Advantages of concrete: Poured concrete is durable, safe, and economical. By several years, concrete lasts longer than asphalt. Concrete is said to have a lower carbon footprint over its lifecycle. It can be reclaimed and recycled. Studies show that over a 50-year period, to produce, maintain, and rehabilitate concrete pavement uses one-third the energy required for asphalt pavement. In addition, concrete’s thermal mass has an 8% advantage over other building and paving materials.
Disadvantages of concrete: With all the benefits of concrete, there are a few drawbacks. Though long-lasting and durable, installation is expensive. A major component of concrete is cement which is one of the main producers of carbon dioxide, a harmful greenhouse gas. In addition, the process and material used to produce, dispose of, and to recycle concrete are not environmental-friendly. To obtain the raw materials to make concrete, the process involves a large amount of energy and water to dig in quarries for sand and other aggregates which leads to environmental destruction and pollution. During several months of the year, the smooth surface of concrete can become slippery in cold climates where ice and snow occur. In addition, over a period of many years, due to inclement weather, concrete eventually degrades and needs to be replaced. Though a relatively low-maintenance product, concrete does take a certain amount of care and maintenance to keep it in good repair so that it will last for many years.