...because home doesn't happen overnight.
08.14.14 / Driveway Update!

Do you remember our elderly, crumbling driveway? If not, let me jog your memory.

driveway before 2

The asphalt driveway had seen better days. It was cracked and unlevel and had sunk so far into the ground that the culvert near the road was essentially a speed bump. Don’t believe me?

driveway before 1

Grass was growing through the cracks. The depressions held water, gravel, dirt and mud. Some places were in such disrepair that you could lift up chunks of asphalt with your bare hands. The kids invented a “driveway puzzle” game where they would remove sections of the asphalt, jumble them up and then put them back where they belonged.

Replacing the asphalt with concrete had always been on our to-do list but it took a few years for it to reach the top of the list and for us to save money for such a big (expensive!) project. We lived with it as-is, not even bothering to make stopgap repairs. As the house’s exterior started to take shape, the driveway remained an eyesore. Steve and I would talk about how driving up to the house and pulling into the driveway should be a “Whew, I’m home!” moment but for so long it was “Ugh. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an uglier driveway.”

At one point, I was so over the crippled asphalt that I tried talking Steve into a gravel driveway. I actually like gravel driveways. But he was set on concrete (and a lot of it) and he was the one who would be maintaining it so we waited it out. Until this summer!

driveway work

Steve grappled with the idea of DIYing the driveway but he would have had to take time off work and persuade friends to help (and also take time off work). In the end, saving his vacation days and back won out.

We found a local concrete guy (well, pair of guys) through family after admiring their beautiful driveways (What? You don’t gaze longingly at driveways?) and discovering the work had been carried out by the same contractor. We had a less-than-wonderful experience with the people we hired to install the back patios and front walk about two years ago so we were adamant about finding a better contractor. And we did! Work started in early July and it took about two weeks for two guys to rip out the old asphalt driveway, prep the site and pour the new concrete driveway. They were meticulous and followed our plans to a T. Their finish work was spot on. I can’t even begin to tell you how awesome it is to work with people who give a rat’s ass about their work. I’d give you the play-by-play of everything that went down but I don’t think it would be as enjoyable in post form as it was in real life. (Mabrey was mesmerized by the backhoe as documented here and here.)

I will tell you how much it cost. We paid $9,300 in cash which is no drop in the bucket but was affordable based on other quotes we received. (We had two other contractors come out and quote the job, too.) We could have saved thousands by doing it ourselves but it would have been a huge project and time-eater. For this particular project, we decided the money was worth it. And after seeing the results, we have no regrets whatsoever.

Soooo, the after!

driveway after 1

So, we still need to tackle some general cleanup, sealing the concrete and reseeding the lawn but LOOK AT THE DRIVEWAY. Go ahead. Feast your eyes. Stare. It’s like concrete porn. Steve wanted a big driveway and he got a big driveway. It’s essentially a two-lane road. We let it cure for three weeks before we parked a single vehicle on it. The day Steve pulled the cars into the new driveway for the first time the kids were all, “Look! Dad’s driving on the driveway!” The first time we pulled out in the car the kids were all, “It’s so smooooooth!”

driveway after slope

No more speed bump! There’s a new culvert in there. You just can’t see it. The driveway slopes ever-so-slightly away from the garage and out to the side yard and road. We also had the contractor install and bury two new drain lines that connect to downspouts at the front and back of the house. We haven’t had a problem with water seeping into the garage before and we’d like to keep it that way. Remember, we’re a bit paranoid when it comes to water + our house.

You might notice the far end of the driveway sloping up. The backyard is higher than the front. We were stumped about how to properly end the driveway at the backyard. Originally, Steve was going to have the guys create a curb there but we weren’t sold on the idea. I thought steps would look nice but Steve nixed that idea. He has high hopes of building a man shed just beyond the driveway someday and wanted a way to drive something (I’m guessing his nonexistent, fancy riding mower??) into the shed if necessary. I suggested a graduated slope. It made sense and we didn’t think it would look awful so a slope it is.

Can I tell you how excited I am about finally having a clean way into our house?! Before, we tracked rocks, dirt and mud into the house from the driveway. Now, I’m finding less of all of that in our house…and in our car.

driveway after 5

Here’s a better picture showing the slope. See how the driveway ramps up on the left? Normally, our trash cans sit between the window and garage door. (It was trash collection day when I snapped these so the cans were out at the road.) We’re going to DIY an enclosure of some kind to hide the cans but we haven’t made it that far. Also, our Direct TV satellite used to stand off to the left (seen in the first two images of this post) but it’s not hooked up yet. I’m trying to convince Steve that we don’t need it but football season starts soon so I’m not sure it’s going to fly.

driveway after 4

The one thing we aren’t head over heels about is the step to the front walk. It slopes up to the walk instead of meeting it at a 90º angle. But that’s the fault of the previous contractor who installed the front walk. It’s too shallow. We specifically requested a deeper walk there because we knew it would have to meet the new driveway at some point but it didn’t happen. Like I mentioned, it was a less-than-wonderful experience with the first set of concrete work. We’ll probably add river rock or short stacked stone walls on either side of the transition to hold the dirt back. Any suggestions?

Some side-by-side comparisons because that’s always fun…

driveway after 2

driveway after 3

driveway garage door

Somehow the garage door looks better. We’ll replace it eventually but the driveway is a good distraction for now.

driveway after 1

Can’t you just picture the driveway cleaned & sealed, surrounded by lush grass with a tidy trash enclosure, maybe a basketball hoop (?) and a modern man shed at the back? Squint harder.

And that completes probably the longest post ever written about a driveway. If you’ve made it this far, I’d love to know all about your driveway and any suggestions you might have for the trash enclosure and / or sloped step. Steve already has his man shed all planned out so don’t worry about that ;)

Whew, I’m home!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

45 Comments

14.August.2014

Dana, this is a beautiful driveway! My parents have a similar driveway to your “before” picture and they’ve been wanting to revamp it for about 10 years now. It always ends up at the bottom of the list and never gets done. I’m sending them your link with the hope that they’ll be inspired to finally tackle that project!!

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14.August.2014

Congrats!

We diy-ed a slatted cedar screen wall to hide the garbage and recycling cans.
http://sugarsugarhouse.com/2013/05/27/cedar-screen/

It’s very simple but it makes me so happy each time I pull in the driveway

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replied on August 14th, 2014

Thanks for posting this, we need one for our cans too!

And Dana what I love most about your blog is that you find something to post about every day, so I have something to look forward to. Somehow that post about a driveway was scintillating. That may say more about me than the actual post, but there it is.

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replied on August 15th, 2014

Driveways are fascinating, aren’t they?! Haha.

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replied on August 15th, 2014

It’s the little things ;).

replied on August 15th, 2014

Your trash / recycling can enclosure is amazing!! And lights to boot? Genius. Totally inspired over here. Thanks for sharing.

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14.August.2014

It’s funny you should ask! I’ve been totally driveway obsessed for the past year or so. ;-) We’re hoping to move within the next year and don’t want to put TOO much money into the place (we’ve been putting money where we think it’s best for the house and future owners), but I think our driveway is in need of a complete makeover. My husband doesn’t think we need anything. So, as a compromise, we’re looking into getting it patched and sealed — hopefully it’ll make a huge difference and be less of an eyesore.

Yours looks incredible!!! Inspirational, as always. :-)

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14.August.2014

Your description of the old asphalt driveway made me laugh, that’s exactly how our driveway is now haha! We are saving pennies now, it’s a multi-year project for sure. Love the new concrete driveway, just clean and gorgeous. Oh, and I have a question — how long is your driveway? I’m sure it’s fairly long.

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15.August.2014

Could you consider a sloped ‘ramp’ to join your new cement to the existing front path? Rather than the really blunt step up?

Looks awesome, and makes me insanely jealous because our current driveway is miles worse then your asphalt was, but it’s still making it’s way to the top of our list :)

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15.August.2014

Your old driveway is how our driveway currently is and we have been seeing how long we can hold off. We had no clue on prices so this is great to give us an idea to start saving. I think it was smart you all had someone else do this job and it looks great.

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15.August.2014

Now that’s a handsome driveway and a good match for your house. Our northern New England winters are not kind to concrete; packed gravel is a better bet here.

Y’know, that pristine smooth surface is just crying out for sidewalk chalk and hopscotch. Also skateboards and roller blades (and knee pads)….

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15.August.2014

So have driveway envy now. I have always wanted a side- or rear-entry driveway. So much room for basketball fun or kids playing outside. We have a short straight driveway that feeds right into a pretty busy street. Wish we would have known it would be this busy when we built! Looks great Dana!

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15.August.2014

Driveway looks awesome, and your ability to save up for it blows my mind. But, more important, have you seen your Living Room on Copy Cat Chic??? I think I see a Domino cover in your future! :-)

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replied on August 15th, 2014

I wish! I think Domino only features never-seen-before interiors though so I guess I’m out. Off to check out the feature…

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15.August.2014

Beautiful driveway! I understand your excitement. My son(19) would be all over that slope with his skateboard. Would you mind an odd question? How do you park your cars in a garage that is a 90 degree angle to the driveway? I can’t figure out how it would be done especially when it doesn’t look like you have a large turn around in front of the garage.

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replied on August 15th, 2014

We don’t park our cars in the garage! It’s full of stuff for the bathroom reno and has been since the day we moved in!! Grrrrr…I give it the stink eye. Once the bathroom is finished, though, we’re going to do a big overhaul on the garage: purging, organizing, cleaning, epoxy the floor, etc. I’ll let you know how parking the car(s) goes then ;)

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15.August.2014

It’s gorgeous! We hope to add a double wide driveway to our house at some point and we don’t have nearly the length of yours, but I know it’s going to be a massive undertaking.

http://jax-and-jewels.blogspot.com

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15.August.2014

New pretty cement, I love it. I also appreciate how well written your posts are.

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15.August.2014

Gorgeous! The house is really looking great!

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15.August.2014

oof. that’s a lot of money for concrete, but we received a similar bid for pavement (our driveway is LONG). fortunately Jon has done loads of concrete work and is fine with gravel. We’re doing a combo of the two…once we can get everything else done. :)
looks good!

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15.August.2014

We have an old driveway as well. It’s cracked in every imaginable place and looks terrible. We hope to replace it but it doesn’t like it’s going to happen very soon. Like you said it costs a ton of money.

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15.August.2014

Before we replaced our driveway, I was mowing down the weeds when I did the lawn. hahah :) Enjoy your lovely driveway!

Do you get good sun over there where you keep the garbage cans? Looks like a prime location for a big lush potted plant :)

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replied on August 16th, 2014

Yes! That side of the house faces west. I hadn’t considered a potted plant before. Hmmmm…maybe a trash enclosure + a planter on wheels?

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15.August.2014

I love fresh concrete! In Portland that would turn all green within a year and have to be power-washed, but in Ohio you have a chance of maintaining that color for a while. It’s beautiful.

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15.August.2014

It’s like a whole new house!! I’m head-over-heels jealous of your update. We have a driveway area that’s likely at least three times as large as yours that’s currently gravel. I. Hate. It. It’s a constant battle to fight the weeds. I don’t think the ground was level underneath, so we’ve got deep spots where our little car almost gets stuck, if you’re not careful. The gravel never stays level – you can always see tire tracks in it. And it’s constantly oozing into the street where we drive out. Our dream is to asphalt every inch of it. It would completely “clean up” the space, and if I never pulled a weed again, I’d be in hog heaven! So CONGRATS to you on the new driveway!! It looks wonderful.

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15.August.2014

I love something like this for a garbage enclosure: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/144889312986602798/ and it still feels somewhat mid-century.

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replied on August 16th, 2014

Ooooh, nice! I’m getting so many ideas from the comments.

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15.August.2014

We have an asphalt driveway that looks way worse than your “before” — this post is truly inspiring and I really appreciate all the info (and the fact that you’re a great writer doesn’t hurt). Thanks for this post!!

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replied on August 16th, 2014

So glad you found some inspiration here – driveway info and all. xo

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15.August.2014

Awesome driveway! I have deep envy. My favorite thing to look at on my walks are driveways. I have seen pretty many new ones on my 2 mile walk around my area recently. I envy them all. Enjoy it, you guys do everything so well, good for you!

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15.August.2014

That’s a heck of a driveway! I can see why you’re happy with it :) I need to redo the driveway of my rental house at some point too, but had been put off by the steep price thinking I needed to get more quotes. But after reading this, maybe it’s more the norm for that kind of work.

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replied on August 16th, 2014

Concrete itself is pretty inexpensive. But the work is labor-intensive and time-consuming which is why the majority of the cost is wrapped up in labor. It makes it awfully appealing to DIY it knowing you could save thousands but it’s a ton of work and takes some experience. We were really happy to pay out for a job well done after seeing the results!

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replied on August 17th, 2014

Yeah the money savings is very tempting. Not sure I’m up for the level of skill/work that would be involved though :)

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Looks awesome Dana! Boy what a difference a driveway makes. Def worth hiring a guy!

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17.August.2014

Congrats on the new driveway- looks great!

My suggestion for your slope/step area would be to fill the area with platings/ground over rather than stone. I think it will soften the lines better. In my area (Birmingham,AL), I see a lot of lirope or low-growing juniper which I’m guessing should grow in your climate,but there are lots of options. I’m thinking the juniper would complement your mid-century lines. Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

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24.August.2014

This gets me so excited to do our driveway. It is not as bad as what you started with but still needs lots of love. I think we are going to try and make it through one more winter before tackling it.

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30.August.2014

some decorative planter boxes on either side of the steps would work. We are in the process of putting in our driveway too, we have just finished building a home.

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18.September.2014

Hi Dana-

Love your blog! Question for you… what did your concrete contractor recommend you use on your new driveway this winter to help with ice? I have been reading conflicting reviews on what to use. I put in a new concrete driveway in May and want to protect my investment as best as possible. Thank you!

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18.October.2014

[…] few weeks ago, we reseeded the lawn around the new driveway. Thanks to a rainy fall, the grass is coming in nicely. We’re getting so close to not being […]

18.October.2014

My husband and I have been DIYing a new concrete retaining wall and driveway since March – oy! We are set to pour our new driveway and walkways next weekend, and while we are super excited, we keep waffling on the finish. Is your driveway smooth on the borders and broom in the middle? Is it light, med, or heavy broom? We were originally leaning towards heavy broom to echo some stones that we have for our pathway, but we’re worried about durability. Now my husband is leaning towards smooth (like the retaining wall), but I am concerned about the traction, or lack there of. Any wisdom you could impart?

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replied on October 19th, 2014

It’s a light broom with smooth borders. We get a lot of ice and snow here in the winter, so traction is a must for us. Best of luck with the driveway! Kudos to you for doing it yourself. Such a BIG job!

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replied on October 19th, 2014

Thanks so much for the info! Your driveway looks great, and your input about the traction during the winter was my main concern, even here in temperate Ca.

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23.January.2015

[…] off at the door which helps keep dirt to a minimum. And I’ve noticed a HUGE difference since the new driveway was installed. One more thing to keep in mind…my floors always look cleaner in photographs ;) […]

09.June.2015

[…] the biggest difference between this year and previous years is the concrete driveway. Not only has it cleaned up the house’s curb appeal, it has tremendously decreased the amount […]

13.June.2015

Hi Dana! I was wondering if you could share the company/names/number of the guys who did your driveway? We’re wanting to widen our driveway and their price sounds pretty reasonable. Thanks!

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