Monday, September 8, 2008

Once Upon a Nasty Pea Stone Driveway

It had been pea stone since the house was built fourteen years ago. Weeds grew in it, and had to be dug out and/or poisoned every spring. It was washing away at one corner, and the lip of the garage concrete pad was left floating in the air. Over time all our neighbors paved their driveways with asphalt while ours just got more weed filled and the wood edging timbers rotted and started growing things as well. Through all the gradual decay we kept postponing paving it because we both hate macadam/asphalt.

Now, if HGTV came to make an episode about our new driveway, perhaps they’d call it “Instant Driveway Curb Appeal,” though it wasn’t so instant. I can also hear one of their talking heads saying “you’ve more than doubled your money on this one.” Seriously though, as you can see, this concrete looks like limestone cut from an ancient reef. We watched the workers create our new drive over a 5-day period, and the process is amazing. Once the excavating, pouring, and leveling were done, they had to catch the drying tan colored concrete at exactly the right moment. Then, in something of a rush because they had a several hour window, they used about six different sized rubber molds that were stamped randomly into the wet surface at various angles. Next, as the surface dried further, again at exactly the right moment, a gray powder was scattered about a quarter to a half-inch deep over the entire surface. The powder reacted chemically with the drying concrete to create deeper and lighter tones in the cement surface. When the concrete had cured properly the powder was power-washed away, revealing the darker toned crevices and pits in our faux stone driveway. Finally, after the concrete dried again, it was sealed with silica over and over. Now, when I look at the driveway the ersatz stone surface is so convincing that I know our concrete specialist created a piece of cement artwork, and I’m convinced that our concrete guy is an artist in addition to being a skilled laborer.

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