Driveway Dilemma; Contractor screwed up; WWYD??

jjamMay 5, 2014

We have a beautiful new driveway which unfortunately does not drain properly.

Contractor has said he will tear up and re pour the three lower sections of the driveway; closest to the house, and re-pitch it so that it will solve the problem. Trouble is, color will not match. They will do their best but it's like a dye lot thing; so there will be a difference. Any ideas on how to make this work? Maybe putting a border around new section? Make it a big enough difference that it looks intentional?? Never thought of the driveway as a design element but now looks like we may have to.

Here are photos with the house included so you can visualize the overall effect:

The top of the driveway is perfect and they did a good job re-grading a problem area there; so we would rather leave it alone, plus the agonizing thought of tearing up the entire thing (6" thick with wire) is pretty nauseating. Any ideas on an acceptable solution?

If anyone has photoshop skills here I would be forever grateful. Right now we are just shellshocked; the drainage issue in question isn't MAJOR but is not right and does need to be addressed.

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Define "properly" - what is the problem in terms of where the water goes versus where it's supposed to go.

They might be able to slice out part of it and put in a channel drain to get the water where it's supposed to go.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 8:58AM
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Your contractor needs to take the whole thing up and redo it.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 8:59AM
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Your downward pitch to the drive is so extreme I'm not sure how he's going to be able to fix it - although perhaps he's planning on pitching it towards the side.

One solution might be to put a french drain across the drive with a metal grate it's about 3" wide - we were going to do that because of a pitch problem in our drive. It would run across the drive right in front of the garage door. You'd need to tunnel under the existing driveway for the drain pipe, but that is less work than tearing out and repouring a large area of concrete.

Just something to think about.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 9:01AM
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The water coming down the driveway on the left side is going toward the front of the foundation plantings in the area in front of where the downspout is.

We have looked at putting another drain there but we already have a drain in that area and worry about future maintenance; keeping the drains clean, etc. But would that be the lesser of two evils?

A french drain is also something we discussed but I think that would look bad; it would be pretty noticeable running the entire width of the driveway. But of course I'm wondering if the color difference would be worse.

UGH! Thanks for your thoughts all. Keep me off the ledge, please!!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 9:10AM
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Your home is beautiful.
I'm with Tibbrix, they should re-do the entire drive. He is going to have to get machinery out there to do the tearouts he proposed anyway.
You paid for an entire driveway, you should not settle for one with color differences (and certainly not drainage issues) that will affect your enjoyment and its use, and possibly be an issue when you go to resell in the future.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 9:16AM
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Where are you located? another option would be to redo the section that needs to be graded, then re-top the whole driveway in black asphalt, which personally I think would look better with your style home, the brick, all the green, etc. anyway.

This post was edited by Tibbrix on Mon, May 5, 14 at 9:43

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 9:21AM
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I would ask them to try to match the color of the original part of the driveway, but if it didn't match, I would not be overly concerned. Slabs of concrete are not things of beauty that you sit and gaze at. Obviously, this is just my opinion.

I love the walkway in front of your house!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 9:31AM
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I would try very hard to avoid a drain. We had one at the bottom of a very steep driveway at our last house and it could be entirely clear at the start of a rain storm and completely clog and start flooding our garage during the storm. I would have to go out in the dark to unclog it through murky water. Shudder.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 9:43AM
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I am really torn about this; part of me is with graywings; we regard the driveway as primarily functional. We had toyed with the idea of doing more decorative pavers, etc., and then just decided to put that money elsewhere. Our old driveway was cracked and dirty but still didn't look that awful. Right now it is new so every little thing shows up and will bother me. The contractor acknowledges that there would be a difference in the color but it would be close and that over time it would not be noticeable. We were thinking of possibly adding a stamped section in the middle so that the shading difference wouldn't be an issue; and it possibly might look good. Does that sound like wishful thinking??

On the other hand, part of me agrees with re-doing the whole thing but the idea of tearing it all out is even tough for me to swallow; it is 6" thick; laced with wire, and the mess and waste of resources would be awful. Not to mention living with that process. But I wonder if I am being shortsighted and shouldn't think about the short term mess.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 9:46AM
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crl, thanks for your thoughts. We are thinking also that anything involving future maintenance would need to be avoided. Also, we have a full basement, so any water collecting in front is not an option.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 9:49AM
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jjam, then re-do just the half, then have the contractor do blacktop over it. Black will look better with your house, and it hides all kinds of sins, like dripped oil staines, etc.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 9:56AM
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Here is a pin board of pins of driveways created with both brick and concrete ..... the combination might work very well in your case ....

I like the idea of adding a drain in the middle of the new section PLUS a channel drain by the garage ....

Of course -- the placement of drains really depend on where the water is going ....

Here is a link that might be useful: Pinterest -- driveways with a combination of brick and concrete

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 9:56AM
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I don't think we can add brick to the whole driveway; it would just be the bottom half. Cutting into the top after the fact isn't an option from what I understand.

I think we could realistically get a stamped section dividing the "old" and "new". So I'm wondering if that's worth doing or would it just look odd.

Have any of you had an issue with sections of concrete not matching? If they do blend over time I think I might be able to live with it but wonder if it is just the contractor trying to get out of this in the easiest way possible (although no solution appears to be easy)

Also, I never thought of doing the whole driveway in black. Is that what you mean, Tibbrix?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 10:11AM
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I never realized plain concrete driveways are supposed to 'match'. Over the years, I had two sections that were crumbling cut out and replaced. They have the new look for a few years and then pretty much change to match the old concrete. The town does the same with sidewalks and the concrete curbs on the street. Or course, if it had added coloring (which yours does not appear to have) that would be a different story. (One reason not to get a long driveway with tinted concrete.)

I have to respectfully but strongly disagree about covering a new concrete driveway with asphalt. A concrete driveway is the luxury material. Asphalt is one step above a gravel driveway. Asphalt introduces yearly maintenance. A concrete driveway, if salt is kept off it in winter, can last decades. I've known plenty of people who've said they wanted concrete but had to go with asphalt because they couldn't afford concrete. I've never known anyone with a concrete driveway who said they wished they had asphalt.

This post was edited by DreamingoftheUP on Mon, May 5, 14 at 10:23

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 10:17AM
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jjam, yes. First, thank your lucky stars you have a contractor willing to take responsibility and do the job right.

Next, mourn the fact that we have to thank our lucky stars so often now just because someone is honorable and intends to do the right thing by his/her client!

Then, yes, I'd have him cover the entire driveway in blacktop so that the whole driveway is black. It does depend on where you are. For instance, I've learned that black driveways in Florida are a big no-no because of the heat. But if you are in a climate that has cool seasons, that would be my suggestion. Not only would it look better, IMO, with your black shutters, roof, the brick, and your gorgeous landscaping, but as I said, the black hides a host of sins and stains, unlike the lighter concrete. For maintenance, you just get it resealed every couple of years to keep it looking great and less prone to cracks and other damage.

'Tis what I would do, and it would solve a lot of your current and future problems! and look great to boot!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 10:27AM
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I also think that mis-matched concrete in a driveway is way out of the list of things I think about when entering a house.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 10:28AM
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I'm usually pretty easygoing about stuff like this, but if you have 1/2 your driveway one color, and the other another, it's going to stand out like a sore thumb IMO, and it'll drive you nuts, and if that does happen, at that point, you're stuck, because you either have to pay someone fully to redo it yet again, or you have to live with it. while your contractor is willing to fix it, get it done right, would be my advice.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 10:37AM
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Thanks Tibbrix. I don't think going black will be an option although I appreciate your thoughts. I guess the question now is whether to just go with the fix and trust that it will be ok in the long run or tear the whole thing out. One option suggested by the contractor was to intentionally stain the bottom section to correspond with the pavers that adjoin the driveway. Just couldn't wrap my brain around that; usually the contrasting sections of a driveway are smaller and located at the top if anything.

You are helping a great deal with my thought process here; thanks everyone.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 10:43AM
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I think it is worth the aggravation and time to have it torn out and done right now.
Otherwise, if the fix doesn't work out, the contractor may not continue to be willing to redo, and if the color does not wear to match over the years, you are going to have to look at it for a long time, and you are going to have to use words like 'repair' and 'drainage' to any prospective buyers in the future who will also notice, and while it may be fine, that may be enough to scare them off.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 10:58AM
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Your house is beautiful and the setting sublime.

A driveway? Meh. I'm with the others who say, who cares what it looks like as long as it's functional. Surely the repaired section can come close to matching the existing. Over time they will pretty much look the same, esp. since they're about the same age. Proper drainage is more important than a concrete driveway's pristine look.

I grew up with first a gravel (owwww!) and then an asphalt driveway. Can I just say how hot they get, in any climate.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 10:59AM
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I wouldn't worry about it. They'll look the same soon enough. just need a little time. Get it fixed as needed.

Just as a note. We added a shop and extended our driveway. It looked the same as our 2 year old one at that time in under a year.

At first it will look a bit different and if it bothers you then just remind yourself it is temporary. You could always brush some dirt over it to make it match a bit better as it is aging, but honestly I wouldn't worry about it.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 12:23PM
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I suppose it is clear, and you are convinced, that the drainage can be corrected by tearing out only a part of the driveway and not the whole thing? No wavy or lumpy part where old and new adjoin?

How different can the two lots of concrete be? They are outdoors and will surely age to be nearly identical. Just the tannins from the leaves in fall are going to stand out for a few years, and then you won't notice.

I really liked the Pinterest pics with a strip of brick between sections. You might consider this to tie the house and driveway together. Any color difference, especially over time, won't be noticeable.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 12:37PM
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Yes, we feel comfortable about the drainage problem being fixed if they replace the sections. The other option is to add additional drainage which would mean tearing out a section of the yard that is already finished and looking good, besides the fact that it will add maintenance and possible areas that could clog in the future.

So having the driveway pitched correctly is the correct solution. I think they can do that by replacing the bottom sections, or by replacing the whole thing. This is a question of whether the mismatched concrete will eventually look the same, and how to best manage the color difference if we have a partial re-do. Actually, we really only need to change out one section, maybe two. We thought adding another might actually be good; that a bigger section that looks different might be a better option than a smaller one.

Thanks so much for your thoughts, everyone. This is driving me crazy.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 2:26PM
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Maybe I missed it but can't you stain the entire driveway? I love stained concrete. White driveways rarely look good after a while. What color(s) I don't know but you can play around to see what works. They just hand throw the color(s) down and use a stamper.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 2:48PM
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I will ask about that debra; it's a great question. Seems like the contractor would have offered that as a solution since it seems so logical!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 2:54PM
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It looks like your drive is mostly shady. We have a concrete patio in our backyard that gets very little sun and there are trees all around. It always looks dirty and awful because of all the stuff from the trees. So, I would have them redo the part that needs it then black top will look nice and you won't be having to pressure wash it all the time.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 3:41PM
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Thanks joanie and others, but black top won't be an option here. It's not a popular look in our area. I live in NC so maybe it's a heat issue. It is true that the trees make a bit of a mess on the driveway; and that will always be the case no matter what type of surface we use.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 3:52PM
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Drains seems like a good option

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 4:44PM
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Beverly, thanks so much for those photos. I am thinking that a drain right at the edge of the driveway before the door is not desirable. Things get caught/stuck in drains and it would be a maintenance issue in a very visible area.

I think getting the concrete pitched properly is the right approach here; at least to my eyes it would be. Our old driveway was fine and the water drained over to the side of the house where we do have a drain similar to those you have showed, and it is out of the way. So our goal is to get the new one pitched properly so that it will divert the water over to the side once again.

Question is; if we pour new sections, will the visible difference be noticeable enough to worry about.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 5:15PM
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I think you are correct in partial replacement to correct drainage. No blacktop on top of a new concrete driveway! Those drains always get clogged with dirt and become inoperable, even on screened in pool decks, becoming a maintenance issue. Maybe you can try the new concrete sections and if within 2 yrs. they still bother you, have an agreement to stain your entire driveway at a reasonable price. Be wary of stamped patterns clashing with that lovely brick, but it may be possible.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 6:22PM
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