Should I Get a Concrete or Asphalt Driveway

Concrete and asphalt are the two most common materials used in driveway construction. Both are impressively strong and durable and can resist weather elements such as extreme snowing. What’s more, they are both made from the same materials; sand and stone!

However, the two also differ in several ways which means you need to be extremely careful when picking between them. We’ve rounded up five important factors that should inform your decision.

Professional installation

Both concrete and asphalt driveways must be installed by a professional because of the high levels of specialization required. Also, both need a strong foundation of gravel upon which the surface material is spread.
Should I Get a Concrete or Asphalt Driveway

Concrete, however, is easier to work with compared to asphalt. Stain or tint concrete in a wide array of colors. Stain the same driveway differently and form unique patterns. Stamp in different designs, etch or engrave to produce different finishes.

Asphalt, on the other hand, requires rolling and compression; there aren’t many other ways of working with the material. Moreover, until recently, there weren’t many color options apart from standard black.

Climate suitability

Both materials are resistant to adverse weather. Asphalt driveways suit colder climates. Intense, persistent heat conditions can soften the surface leading to cracks and crumbling along the edges.


Hot weather can also cause asphalt residue to stick to shoes.

Concrete, in contrast, performs better in hotter climates because the intense cold can result in heave frost (the upward swelling of soil in cold conditions), causing cracking among other damages. Additionally, de-icing salt tends to damage the concrete finish.

Driveway maintenance

Both materials require proper maintenance to last long enough. Maintaining an asphalt driveway, however, is more labor intensive. Seal the driveway six to twelve months after installation. Reseal every three to five years thereafter.

This is because asphalt contains petroleum which, over time, loses surface moisture due to oxidation. Lost surface moisture on an asphalt surface will make it brittle.

Concrete driveways, meanwhile, only require sealing every couple of years to prevent stains and maintain custom finishes. Whenever there is staining, you just use a degreaser to clean the surface.

In addition, it is easier and less expensive to repair cracks in asphalt driveways, with less visible results. Asphalt also allows for inexpensive resurfacing. You cannot resurface a concrete driveway.

The cost of paving

Ignoring maintenance costs, asphalt driveways are considerably less expensive than their concrete counterparts. A concrete driveway will cost you at least 45% more.

Material durability

If properly maintained, asphalt driveways can last up to 30 years. This, however, doesn’t compare to concrete driveways which can last over 50 years if properly maintained.

Building regulations

Finally, before you begin construction, check with your local building codes to see if there are any specifications. It isn’t uncommon to find local governments restricting the color, finish, and even the type of driveway material you can use.

How To Choose The Right Paving Material

Anyone who walks into your compound will judge the home based on the gate, pavement, and the front door. As such, your choice of paving material is critical.

It is important that you choose a material that complements your landscape, keeping qualities such as color and texture in mind.

To help you make the right decision, the following is a brief comparison of some of the most common paving materials.

Concrete paving

The least expensive of paving materials – regular, poured concrete – comes in many colors and is extremely durable, though not as much as paving stone.

It can be dyed to give you the exact color you’re looking for. The only downside being that the colors are very difficult to match should you need repairs later. What’s more, you can easily stamp or stencil patterns onto concrete to give you a custom look.

Paving stones

Paving stone is made from compressed concrete, making them up to four times stronger than regular concrete.

During installation, the stones can be interlocked to form a paving stone system that is not only artistic but also flexible and resistant to cracking.

The stones come in a multitude of styles and colors and, unlike poured concrete, are easy to repair whenever they stained or damaged.

Limestone paving

A beautiful sedimentary stone obtained from the seabed, limestone adds a distinctive look to paths and patios.

It is fine textured thus takes on a distinctive, velvet finish when used in paving. Compared to paving stones, its color range is a bit limited with dark gray, pale gray, blue gray, cream, and tan being the easiest colors to find.

But its biggest advantage is that the fine particles make the material easy to cut into all sorts of decorative shapes.

Sandstone paving

Another sedimentary rock, sandstone is formed by eroded mineral particles over time.

Like limestone, it is fine textured and easy to work with, making it a good choice for verandas and courtyards. You’ll find it being sold under descriptive names such as Colorado Red, Crab Orchard, and Pennsylvania Blue.

Blue-gray and lilac-gray are two of the most common colors though light gray, tan, and soft golden sandstone is also available.

Granite paving

Available in all sorts of colors, granite is a very strong stone best known for its endurance even in adverse climates. The stone resists long-term weathering effects and often maintains its color and texture for decades.

This explains why it’s one of the most sought after paving materials. Whether in freezing cold or burning hot climates, once polished, your granite pavement will maintain its look for many generations.

Slate paving

Finally, slate is another heavy, durable stone that can be cut into thin sheets for roofing and paving. One of its biggest advantages is that it’s resistant to slipping as well as food and beverage spills.

This makes it an excellent paving material if you have kids. Slate can also withstand extreme temperatures and comes in many colors from purple to green to black.

Tips For Hiring The Right Paving Contractor

Do you need to construct or reconstruct the driveway, sidewalk or floors at your home? Or maybe your business premises needs a new parking lot. For these reasons, you will need to hire a paving contractor to do the job.

You do not want to bleed financially due to frequent costs of repair. Therefore, ensure to get yourself the best paving contractor. Below are tips on some of the things to keep in mind to ensure that you’re getting the best value for your money.

Check Their Reputation

How long has the company been in the industry? How good are their services? When hiring a paving contractor, go for a company that is experienced and well-known for their high-end services.

The company should also be stable; not one that could abruptly go out of business. You can find out more about a company’s reputation by checking the “About Us” page of their official website. Also, check out the Better Business Bureau to see how the company is rated.

References and recommendations

If you’re brand new to contractor hiring, you may not know where to begin your search. In this case, references and recommendations ought to be your best friends.

Ask around for the best paving contractors in the area. You can ask your family and friends as well as neighbors and colleagues at work. Or, check review websites to find out the best-rated contractors from the area.

Insurance coverage and licensing

In case of any damages done to your property during the job, you will want to be protected. Therefore, hire a paving contractor with insurance.

The insurance will also cover any injuries directly caused by the contractor or their tools. Licensed companies are typically more professional because they are answerable to the licensing agency.

Visit previous job sites

Let’s say during an interview, a contractor tells you how highly experienced they are. Maybe they even give you a list of references that you can check out. Another step you will need to take is visit their past job sites to see for yourself. If you like what you see, consider hiring them immediately.

Materials and equipment

These are very crucial. A paving contractor may have exceptional techniques but if their equipment or materials are not up to standard, it can be a big problem.

For starters, do not hire a contractor who uses recycled materials. If the equipment keeps breaking down, you might have a problem and, in a year or two, you will already be dealing with repairs.


Finally, it’s imperative that the contractor gives you an honest estimate upfront. To get more customers, a few shady contractors have formed a habit of displaying low prices and impractical discounts on their websites.

Then, as soon as they begin work, they’ll start asking for several other “additional” fees. Don’t be a victim of this trick. Demand the full quote upfront and discuss any hidden costs they might have.

In summary

Choose a contractor you can rely on; someone you can trust. In addition to being good on the job, he or she must also be a great character.

Reflective Pavement Marking Standards

Retroreflective pavement markers indicate where the road is located, such as in turns like this one. | Source


ASTM International has developed standards for both pavement marking materials and pavement marking components.

ASTM standards describe how retroreflective materials should work, the standards they must meet and how pavement markers are tested before they literally hit the road.

Reflective Material Standards

ASTM standard D6628-03 outlines the allowed colors for pavement marking materials. This standard applies to both painted pavement markings and reflective markers. ASTM D4505-05 specifies the necessary qualities of materials used in marking tape used on reflective pavement markers.

ASTM standard D6359 gives the minimum level of retro-reflectance or returned light without scattering of new pavement markings. ASTM standard E808-01 explains the formal definitions and descriptions of retro-reflection using the CIE (goniometer) system.

Retro-Reflective Marker Testing Standards

ASTM E1710-11 is the standard for measuring pavement marking materials with a retroreflecto-meter. This standard primarily applies to traffic stripes and road symbols made from paint containing reflective beads. ASTM D4061 describes how horizontal reflective coatings are to be tested.

ASTM E809-08 explains the ASTM practices for measuring the photometric characteristics of retroreflectors such as the percentage of light reflected back and the amount of light that is scattered by the retroreflectors. ASTM E810 describes how to measure the coefficient of retroreflective sheeting such as that used in permanent signs and curb markers.

ASTM D7585 describes how to evaluate reflective pavement markings with hand operated instruments. ASTM D7585 requires a clean and dry set of markings prior to the test. For example, the reflective markers should not have dirt or mud on them when testing is performed. They can be cleaned with water and soap prior to the testing, though testing must wait until it is dry. ASTM D7585 replaced the prior standard ASTM D6359-99.

ASTM E1709-09 outlines how retroreflective signs should be measured using a portable retroreflectometer. ASTM E2301-03 is used to measure the daytime reflective properties of retroreflective materials.

What ASTM Standards for Road Markers Do Not Mandate

ASTM does not determine how bright light reflected by retro-reflective pavement markers must be. ASTM leaves that to local and state governments. ASTM standards don’t mandate where retro-reflective markers must be placed on objects like mailboxes or personal driveways.

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DIY Patio Paving

Now that your patio’s design concept has been concluded, the next important thing to have are detailed drawings of the designs.

You can create your design ideas yourself by using a home and landscape drawing software that’s easy to use, and has an easy-to-navigate interface. And if you are not computer software savvy, you can put your designs on paper the traditional way, by drawing scaled sketches using graph paper. The drawings must be dimensioned, and the following permanent outdoor elements, fixtures and features must be positioned on the plan.

  • The house
  • Windows
  • Walls
  • Fence
  • Manhole covers
  • Power supply points
  • Large plants and shrubs
  • Trees

This careful and thoughtful step to planning patios goes a long way in ensuring the complete success of all patio designs.

Choosing The Right Materials For Patio Paving

For the do-it-yourself patio builder, in order to avoid the onerous task of having to cut slabs of stone or slate, a ‘chessboard’ layout is a good choice for flooring.

Another easy to use and apply material are one of the ranges of stones that feature half-slabs. A few squares from the chessboard pattern can be left without paving and can be used for planting beautiful flowering shrubs.

Simple Tools & Implements Required For DIY Patio Flooring

  • Spirit level
  • Cement
  • Hosepipe
  • Builders square
  • Bucket
  • Club hammer
  • Spade
  • Sponge
  • Wheelbarrow
  • String
  • Screeding float
  • Pointing trowel

Find great tile and stone bargains on-line….

  • Tiles, Stone, Slate for Patio Paving.

Site Preparations

The patio surface must be a minimum of 150cm (6″) below the damp proof course of the house so that rain doesn’t bounce off onto the walls above. There must be a gradual slope away from the house, to ensure rainwater drains off. Allowing a minimum of 25mm (1″) drop in every 150cm (5′) or alternatively installing a drainage channel is also a good idea.

Transfer your patio design plan to the outdoor ground, using wooden pegs, a builder’s square and a roll of string.

Mark bold lines on the pegs to indicate the finished levels of hardcore, mortar bed and the finished surface of the patio floor slabs.

Allow for a gradual slope away from the house when inserting wooden pegs, and make sure the marks for the finished patio surface is at the same level with any paving existing on the premises, including all manhole covers.


Patio Screens and Enclosures

Patio Shades – Canopy Overheads, Roof and Patio Cover

Patio Flooring Ideas

Preparing The Foundation

If there is any turf, plants or paving in the way, remove them. Dig down to a depth of about 15cm (6″) for the foundation. For a strong solid base, add a layer of hardcore to a depth of roughly 5cm to 8cm over the area of the patio.

To distribute the hardcore evenly, use a rake, ensuring you even out all bumps. You could, on the other hand, hire a powered wacker plate to level and compress the hardcore for a good solid base. Now, a layer of bedding mortar can be poured over the hardcore base.

Preparing The Mortar Bedding

Patio builders have the option of using premixed mortar, or they can mix it themselves. If you don’t mind the messiness, you can certainly do it yourself.

Mix the bedding mortar on a wide plastic sheet, using a ratio of 3:1:1 (3 shovels of sharp sand to 1 shovel of soft sand to 1 shovel of cement). This is roughly the right mix. Create a center in the mix and add water sparingly, turning it over and over until a lump-free wet mix is made.

Pour enough mortar to the required thickness, so that you can set down one complete line of paving slabs. Compact the mortar well, and level it using a screeding float trowel, making sure the mortar thickness is even over the ground.

Setting Patio Paving Slabs

Before you laying or setting the slabs, it is advisable to check with a builder’s square that the string guiding lines are square to the house, if they are not, they must be adjusted until they are.

Lay down the first slab against the house, starting at the corner. Check that it aligns with the string guideline because it is imperative that the first slab is accurately positioned. Tap it gently to the correct level using a club hammer and a block of wood to protect the slab.

Finally, check that the slab aligns with the spirit level, allowing for the slope away from the house. Continue with subsequent slabs until all the patio paving slabs are laid down. Carry out a final check to make sure all the set slabs are level.

Filling The Open Gaps Between Laid Slabs (Pointing)

Once all your patio slabs have been laid, leave the mortar to dry for a minimum of 24 hours before filling the open gaps (also referred to as pointing) between the slabs with semi-dry mortar. Pointing stops the slabs from slight shifts or moving, and it also prevents weeds from growing out through the gaps. The semi-dry mix is made up of 4 parts of sharp sand to 1 part cement (4:1). It must be used whilst still damp, to avoid shrinkage after drying out.

To know if the mix is right, test it by squeezing a handful of it. If it stays as a firm wet ball when you open your hand and does not crumble or ooze water, then it’s just right.  If it crumbles, it’s too dry, so add a bit more water. If it’s too wet and oozes water on squeezing, add some more sand and cement, still using the same ratio of 4:1.

When the consistency is right, press the mortar mix into the gaps with the edge of a trowel. Brush off any surplus mortar before it gets completely dry by using a semi-stiff brush. After pointing, clean the finished patio floor slabs with clean water and a damp sponge to remove all traces of cement.

Job done! But it will be at least 24 hours before you can walk on, or use your patio, to allow it to dry properly without unnecessary foot pressure.

How To Maintain Your Patio Floor

Many home-owners with patios want to seal the patio flooring slabs, to prevent water seepage or eventual fading, but it’s good to check the manufacturers’ recommendations before using a sealant. Applying a sealant to some paving materials may affect their color.

In winter, if the patio floor freezes, do not try to melt the ice using salt as it could damage the surface. It’s best to use a plastic shovel or stiff brush to remove ice or snow.

Check for loose or damaged slabs regularly, about every three months, and make sure that all the pointing in the gaps is still intact.

There are manufacturers instructions on how to clean stains such as wine stains, or barbeque fat, grease, chewing gum and/or bird droppings. Its good to clean them as they occur, but if they had gone unnoticed for a while, and appear set, the instructions will tell you how you can give your patio floor an intensive cleaning treatment.

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How to Build and Extend Your Patio With Paving Stones

How to Build and Extend Your Patio With Paving Stones

How would you love to have a maintenance free paving stone patio? Installing paving stones is easy and the results are well worth the effort. Here are all the steps on how to install pavers and extend or build a maintenance free paving stone patio. Your stone patio will last a lifetime and add beauty and value to your home.

Your paving stone patio will never rot and will never need staining. And the best part is you will never get a sliver from a stone patio. So here are the easy steps on how to build your own maintenance-free stone patio.

How to Install Paving Stones – Planning Your Stone Patio

Paving stones come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours. But it’s very hard to tell what you like by looking at a bunch of paving stones stacked in the store lot. So before you visit your favourite home improvement store, go for a walk around the neighbourhood, in fact, go for a drive and look at many neighbourhoods. Many homes have paving stone sidewalks, entrances and even driveways.

Observing existing stone paved entrances will greatly help you determine that perfect type of stone and colour for your patio. I had removed my old wooden deck and built a new stone patio complete with steps a few years ago and now it’s time to expand the patio. The steps in expanding an existing stone patio are exactly the same steps used to build a new stone patio and are easy to follow, here’s how.

How to Build a Stone Patio – Choosing the Right Paving Stone for Your Patio

For my stone patio, I used charcoal grey stack stones and coping stack stones for the edging. The coping stones are the flat top stones. Stackers are used to building retaining walls and coping stones are used as the top stone to provide a smooth top surface. Stackers are formed with a groove on the bottom side and a raised channel on the top. Coping stones have a groove on the bottom, which allows them to fit snugly on top of the stack stones. I had used stack stones extensively to create my steps and also for the edging to provide a solid border that will not shift over time.

I also used Tuscany pavers, but you can use any number of stone styles available. Other popular stone pavers used today are Roman pavers. Tuscany pavers come in a mixed bundle of 4 different sizes, each having a common width of six inches. For Tuscany pavers, you simply lay the pavers in a straight line using alternate length stones in the process. These paving stones are very easy and quick to install and the finished patio looks great. Roman pavers also have a great look, but come in four different sizes as separate bundles. Roman pavers are designed for installation in certain patterns, similar to a fishbone style pattern.

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Decorative Concrete Solution Systems


Welcome to the world of decorative concrete with Minster Paving Systems™
If you are looking to replace that old worn-out driveway or patio, decorative concrete or printed concrete is the perfect solution. Maybe you simply want a new one that’s different. Does the idea of having your own unique kitchen worktop or floor design seem a good idea – then consider acid stained concrete or etched concrete.

Whether you’re renovating an old property and need an old world feel or you simply want something very different and very special – think decorative concrete. In fact, whatever look or special feel you are trying to achieve, you can achieve it with decorative concrete or decorative concrete overlays.

Decorative concrete products can be stained, imprinted, ground and polished or any combination and all can be tailored to your personalised individual needs whilst at the same time delivering much-improved durability over the materials they imitate. Concrete’s unique willingness to accept imprinted patterns, acid stains and colours or beautiful polished finishes makes concrete an ideal product for consideration on any project where you are looking to create that personal touch.
Hard wearing with low maintenance, concrete’s versatility allows you to use it to create bespoke pattern driveways and paths, pool surrounds, patios or kitchen worktops – your options are unlimited. Acid staining, grinding and polishing can achieve the most stunning effects and designs you could possibly imagine. Colours and design options are endless and formulated to suit your exact wishes.

Continue to explore this site and find out how Minster Paving Systems can bring to your home or business decorative concrete that is both cost-effective and different. Let decorative concrete help you achieve that special feel and effect that you are looking for.

For general enquiries please use the enquiry page, however, should you have specific questions about decorative concrete or simply feel happier speaking to someone in person, please call 01949 875782
If you’re a dedicated DIY’er looking for the right tools and materials or simply want a proven contractor to update your tired old drive, Minster Paving Systems can offer a friendly service to help you find what you are looking for.

Our experience with concrete is based on over 20 years as professional installers, regularly making industrial pours of circa 1000m² per day each and every week. This detailed understanding of concrete allows us to deliver high quality finished decorative concrete to you the customer, regardless of the size of the project.

As a decorative material concrete is consistently finding new markets, some of which can be undertaken by the enthusiast, some of which should only be undertaken by profession contractors. Whichever you fall into, Minster Paving Systems will continue to explore all new avenues for decorative concrete and installation techniques making them available for all.

We will continue to offer our tailored design service, DIY supplies of tools and materials. Advice can always be obtained over the telephone. At Minster Paving Systems all our experience and purchasing power is made available to our customers and our aim is to ensure that you, the customer, get exactly what you want, be it a new drive to upgrade a tired worn out old drive or something special to your own design.

Our website is extensive and continually updated. However, should you find the information is not there or would rather speak to someone in person, just call us on 01949 875782.

Some FAQ’s

Q. Is concrete more expensive than traditional materials?
A. No, decorative concrete and installation costs are comparable to paving slabs, brick and stone sets.

Q. How long do these materials last?
Installed correctly and maintained properly concrete driveways, patios and floors have a very long life when compared to the traditional materials.

Q. How are all the wonderful colours achieved on floors and concrete worktops?
Sometimes colour pigment is added to the wet concrete before pouring. Once installed the concrete is then treated with dyes or acids or a combination of all three to achieve what you are looking for.

Q. How are concrete drives and patios made to look like real mineral stone?
As a wet product, we are able to apply printable templates to the surface when the concrete is wet. The concrete then takes on the pattern or texture you have selected.

Q. Can we use these products internally?
Yes, absolutely. Many of our floor coverings were historically chosen to cover poor quality floors as well as giving us something a little warmer to stand on. With the advent of underfloor heating you no longer need carpets, staining and colouring allow you to have wonderful unique patterns where carpets used to be.

Q. Where should concrete be avoided?
None – concrete is extremely versatile and hard wearing. It can be cast in any shape you desire, printed and stained. It’s cool in summer and with underfloor radiant heating, warm in the winter. It’s tough as old boots and requires little maintenance – what more could you ask for?

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