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Hard Choices

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Beautifying your property can mean many things and one area people don’t always think about are the hard surfaces under their feet. Hardscaping has become a crucial facet in design and from the concrete driveway  to the flagstone patio, there are various areas that call for different paving materials.  House & Home spoke with industry insiders about each variety and where it might be best applied.  

The consensus among many is that asphalt is most fitting for driveways.

 “It’s the most affordable, and it’s really durable,” says Michael Harris, owner of Harris Paving Industries, LLC. “Other products can be five times the cost, with half the life span. An asphalt driveway can last 18 to 20 years and offers a lot of control where water is pitched.”  

And when compared to concrete, asphalt wins out again. Gianni Calabretta, owner of Maintain It All Paving, says, “Asphalt is  less expensive, easier to repair and is flexible, so it better handles the extreme temperature changes in the Northeast.” He says oil stains and spills are not as noticeable on asphalt, and a new layer of  asphalt offers a brand-new look at a low cost. To keep it in its best shape, he says to remember to sealcoat the asphalt every two to three years.

For driveways, asphalt is cost effective and 100 percent recyclable,  explains Saul Harrison, owner of Harrison Brothers Paving. “We can repair asphalt, while concrete is more expensive and difficult to fix. We can also recycle old asphalt driveways. We just grind it out and make a new driveway.”  

Asphalt can also be enhanced for curb appeal, says Chris DeMato,  owner of Rock Bottom Landscaping & Fencing. “A combination of asphalt and brick can really enhance the plain black asphalt.  Sometimes a border or a nice entranceway of brick can break up the monotony of the plain asphalt,” he says.

Calabretta agrees, adding that Belgian block aprons or edging are something to consider. “These gray stones are set in concrete and provide a long-lasting decorative look.”

A specialty idea that has been growing in interest is the tar-and-chip process, which Harrison says gives  the surface the look and texture of a gravel surface. “We’re one of the only companies in the area that does it,” he says. “It’s a beautiful country look.” Other options include red asphalt, which holds color permanently, or the white or beige color asphalt can give based on the color of the rock and granite used. “Stamping asphalt gives a specific look at a fraction of the cost of concrete stamping or using pavement stone,” he says. “There is herringbone or cobblestone. In fact, anything can be matched.”

However, these professionals note that asphalt paving is also a very seasonal business, running mainly March through Thanksgiving. “Good compaction is crucial for asphalt, which is why you don’t do as much during  the cold, wet months when the ground isn’t in the best condition,” says Harris. And to keep it in its best shape, homeowners will need to sealcoat the asphalt every two to three years.

Concrete, pavers and natural stone
Concrete has many benefits, including needing less maintenance and lasting longer than many materials. However, it is more difficult to  repair than asphalt and can also be damaged by salt and deicing products in the winter, says Calabretta.

Gwen Kunkel, president of New Castle Artisan, says her company  has a process of repairing and resurfacing concrete using a specialized polymer-concrete blend. “We give the homeowner the opportunity  to use their strong existing  concrete in order to give their home an upgrade,” she says. “Concrete resurfacing allows for affordable ways to create a stunning home upgrade.” This process can be used on any existing concrete—pool  decks, driveways, porches and sidewalks, as well as interior projects like basements and garages. “The products are twice as strong as original concrete, and are resistant to chemicals and salt,” she says.  

Some suggest man-made pavers where concrete might oth- erwise be used. Tom Fox is the manager of Eddington Supply, a distributor of EP Henry, CST products and Cambridge Paving Stone. “Where we live in Pennsylvania we have  to keep in our minds expansion and contraction. These can cause a lot of cracks. If you use concrete, you’ll need expansion  joints every 10 feet and you could still have cracks,” he says. “Interlocking pavers move with the ground. They can be lifted for pipes and wires. They are also good for pool areas since they are anti-slip, and you can change the color, texture and size of the pavers, too.”

One bonus for using pavers, says Fox, is permeability. “This is a big advantage. Water goes between pavers and actually leaves the surface cooler. You can use interlocking sand to stop weeds, as well as special fabric between the stone and bedding sand,” he says.

Fox says that these paver products are especially popular for casting stone walls. “They look like real stone, but the way they are created to be put together  means saving time in labor. The structure goes up quicker,” he says, adding that they don’t crack easily, offer tons of designs and can be used in outdoor kitchens, bars, walls and fountains.  

 “Natural stone and concrete brick pavers have been the most popular products used for patios walkways and pool decks,” says DeMato. “Natural stone is beautiful and can be very unique to each project. As no two stones will be exact, therefore giving a more natural look, however cost can sometimes be prohibitive.” 

DeMato says brick paver manufacturers have created products that have a natural stonelook at a much more affordable cost,  and there are stone and concrete products that remain cool in hot weather. “Brick manufacturers are also offering lifetime  warranties, which is an added selling point. Going green is a very popular theme today and the brick manufacturers also offer many products that are permeable. The brick and block manufactures continue to create new styles and color options  to give customers a wide array of options,” he says.

Eddington Supply
Bucks County, Pa.
(215) 639-0990

Harris Paving Industries, LLC
Harleysville, Pa.
(215) 513-1977

Harrison Brothers Paving
Yardley, Pa.
(215) 949-6979 | (844) DRIVEWAY

Maintain It All Paving
Eagleville, Pa.
(610) 600-6215

New Castle Artisan
Turnersville, N.J.
(856) 725-3333

Rock Bottom Landscaping  & Fencing, LLC
Belle Mead, N.J.
(732) 873-6780

Select imagery courtesy of Maintain It All Paving and New Castle Artisan

Published (and copyrighted) in House & Home, Volume 19, Issue 9 (March 2019). 
For more info on House & Home magazine, click here
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