Concrete is a durable and versatile building material with uses far beyond walkways, and a variety of types of concrete sidewalks are observable in public and residential spaces. If you are considering incorporating concrete into a sidewalk or walkway design, a solid understanding of your options will help you make the right decision for your needs. No matter which style you choose, a concrete sealer is essential to maintaining a concrete sidewalk.
Regular vs. High-Performance Concrete
Regular concrete is an industry term that describes concrete made according to common manufacturer instructions printed with cement mixes. The precise mixing agents impact the durability of the finished concrete. High-performance or high-strength concrete mixes typically use less water or alternative aggregates to increase the durability, density and stability of the concrete. Both mixes are typically poured into a mold or frame and then made level. For residential walkways, regular concrete is often strong enough to handle the level of traffic, but public sidewalks installed by city officials often utilize higher-strength concrete to avoid costly repairs in the future.
Poured concrete is a liquid mixture that is poured into a sidewalk mold or frame in the location of the final sidewalk. The result is a smooth, solid finish, but the process of mixing, pouring and leveling the concrete is costly and time consuming. Concrete pavers are a time-saving option. Concrete pavers are prefabricated tiles made of concrete mixtures, and they are available in a wide range of strengths, colors and shapes. Many of the pavers interlock to create a solid grid or pattern, though the pavers can also be spaced in a sidewalk or backyard walkway to allow blades of grass to peek through.
Concrete, in its most basic form and application, is a simple gray color that is easily matched with most landscapes and surrounding areas. Decorative concrete makes a more dramatic visual statement, and private residences or corporations are investing in decorative concrete as an inexpensive means of adding visual interest to a sidewalk. Concrete that is tinted during the mixing process is one way to dress up concrete. Stamped concrete achieves the look of other materials, such as stone or brick, by pressing shapes on the concrete after it has been poured and leveled. Stained concrete is also an option, though it is not common for use in sidewalks because the acids may wear down over time and be released into the landscape.