The Pros and Cons of Decorative Concrete Sidewalks

A decorative geometric pattern in a concrete pathway.

When your deciding on what type of sidewalk for your home, odds are you mind wanders to the old standard, which is boring, gray concrete. There are actually many options for you to choose from, including decorative concrete. No, that doesn’t mean your sidewalk is going to look like a garish art project. Decorative concrete is a fun and innovative alternative to the old standards.

Benefits of Decorative Concrete

Among the main benefits of decorative concrete sidewalks is its sheer versatility. You’re stuck with a static form with other types of sidewalk such as flat gray or rock, but the ability to mold concrete into various shapes and decorations is a major benefit. You can have a standard flat sidewalk with one of many colors, a stucco texture or almost any other design or texture. The only limitation is your imagination.

Concrete is extremely durable. It doesn’t succumb to rot very easily (as wood planks do) and withstands storms, wind and Mother Nature’s wrath better than other types of sidewalk materials (like asphalt). Concrete sidewalks are also very easy to maintain because of its durability. Since it doesn’t warp, fade or peel, there is very little maintenance necessary through the years. The only requirement is a layer of sealer every few years. Concrete is very absorbent, so the sealer helps defend from staining and cracking.

I’ve seen many different types of concrete sidewalks and it’s an amazing material. The custom designs are truly breathtaking and it might seem like concrete sidewalks are a no brainer, but nothing it perfect.

Problems of Decorative Concrete

The cost is a downside to concrete sidewalks, but given their benefits, they should pay for themselves over time. Decorative concrete is more expensive than flat standard concrete, but less expensive than brick, and other unique sidewalk materials. Anyone considering brick should look into decorative concrete . There are brick molds that look the same and costs less. It won’t actually be brick, but it fools many people.

Installing decorative concrete sidewalks can also be an issue. It’s not as simple as pouring concrete or dropping cobblestones in a pattern you want. This is especially true of stamped concrete. Stamped concrete requires the use of special equipment to stamp designs into the concrete before it dries.

Brick, cobblestone, and several other types of sidewalks have a structural versatility to them. If you don’t like the look, then you can simple dig up the rocks and bricks and adjust them. With concrete, once it’s done, it’s done. It’s hard to make a mistake with standard flat gray concrete, but when you’re dealing with specialty molds, textures and designs, even a small mistake is difficult to change.

Weighing the benefits of all types of sidewalks is an important part of the process and one that is often overlooked. If you have an existing sidewalk that needs repair or are just tired of looking like everyone else, then look into decorative concrete.

(Already have some boring, gray concrete, and you don't want to tear it up? You can stain it, and here's how.)