Ways to Give Your Home an Exterior Facelift With One Simple Tool

Home improvement can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, here’s a little secret you should always keep in mind when working on exterior design work: never buy real bricks, stones, or tiles. These are expensive building materials, but a more affordable and durable alternative exists: concrete!

Before you roll your eyes in disgust and say, “But concrete looks cheap and plain!” consider this: concrete can be textured, colored and stamped in virtually any way imaginable. It can easily mimic the variegated look of a brick, the slightly uneven or imperfect surface of a cobblestone, and the intricate pattern of tiles.

In fact, concrete is so versatile that it is even being used as an interior flooring option for large institutions, effectively replacing linoleum or tiles with a gorgeous polished surface.

If you’re not part of the concrete fan club yet, here are just a few ways you can give your home an exterior facelift with this humble building material.

Redesign Your Patio, Driveway or Entrance

You can make the biggest visual impact by tackling the largest exterior surfaces, which are usually the driveway, patio, and front walkway or entrance.

Allow your patio to take on an organic shape, with large outward curves in areas where you plan to entertain guests, eat around a table, or place outdoor furniture. The patio itself can be any color you wish, from an earthy terra cotta or olive to a striking royal blue. According to the Houston ready mix, the base color is also called the integral color and is added as powder during the mixing process. This means that the color is embedded into the concrete, not applied as a paint or wash, vastly reducing the amount of maintenance you’ll need to worry about.

Use a concrete stamp or overlay to create the look of bricks, stones or tiles. Give your patio a border by using a slightly different pattern or by placing the overlay perpendicular to the rest of the patio. If you want something very specific and unique, a professional can create a custom stamp or overlay for you.

Depending on the stamp that you choose, the surface of the concrete might be extremely flat, or it might have some dips and divots. Add shadows and highlights, like you would on any piece of artwork, with special washes and finishes. And, if your pattern requires some tiles to really stand out, paint them with acid wash to make them absolutely gleam.

The same principles used to design the surface of your patio can be applied to your driveway, sidewalk, and even the porch as well. The durability of concrete is never compromised with these unique designs. In fact, quality concrete remains one of the best choices for patios, driveways and sidewalks due to its easy installation, low maintenance and affordability, even if you choose not to customize it at all.

Add Landscape Interest

Buying bricks and stones to use as garden borders can quickly sap your bank account of its entire gardening budget. Those materials are expensive! Instead, create a faux-brick or stone border with concrete. No one will be able to tell the difference.

You can also use special molds to create stepping stones for your garden pathway. And retaining walls made of concrete are an easy way to visually enhance your yard. Plants with vines and trailing flowers look gorgeous tumbling over the edge of a stone wall. Use concrete to create the look of an intricate wall in any color you please.

You can also build a waterfall for a pond using stamped concrete, or you could create stately pillars on either side of your driveway. A beautiful fire pit is another option. If you can imagine it, you can do it with concrete.

Apply Texture to Your Exterior Walls

Does your home have vinyl sidings from top to bottom? While some people like this look, it can get a little boring after a while. Add some visual interest with textures on an entire wall, or halfway up a wall. Concrete can be used vertically as well as horizontally, and it can give the impression of a gorgeous stone or brick wall. Add a wash that will add depth to the “stones,” and take the time to individually paint some bricks to make them stand out as a slightly different color. You’ll get a gorgeous brick or stone wall for a fraction of the cost and in a fraction of the installation time.

Now that you know concrete is more than a gray slab where you park your car, don’t forget about this simple building material next time you want to make some outdoor home improvements!

Cathy Habas
Cathy Habas
[email protected]

Freelance writer, editor and translator based in Louisville, Kentucky.

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