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What Colour Should your Concrete Driveway be?

By 05/14/2013August 18th, 201953 Comments

My sister Elizabeth with Markus & William

When we started getting quotes for a new concrete driveway, the contractors were quick to tell us we could ‘Choose a colour’.

I assured them we would not be selecting anything different than the natural colour of concrete.

Quick! Close your eyes and answer this question: What’s the undertone of a sidewalk?


That’s what most people say, but it actually has a green undertone.

If you don’t believe me, look out the window. Is anything the natural colour of concrete actually a battleship grey blue shade?


It’s green grey. See the sidewalk below? That’s what I’m talking about.

Photo by Maria Killam

See the purple driveway above? This is NOT a recommendation I would ever make for  your concrete driveway!

A concrete driveway in an actual colour would be an extreme exception in my opinion. I found one that works (below) but the question to ask yourself is, Do you want your driveway to scream “Look at me, look at me?”. With this extreme modern home, perhaps the orange driveway adds warmth to the otherwise very stark looking exterior?

Perhaps it breaks up an otherwise all grey driveway-connecting-to-the-house-look?

What do you think?


Last week when our driveway was poured, I thought it would be fun if Markus and William came by to permanently mark our concrete!


I was with clients on the day it was poured so unfortunately I couldn’t be here for their Hollywood Walk of Fame day, haha.


The contractor asked me in passing where I wanted their handprints so he quickly removed them when he saw the first round.


I would have been perfectly okay with where they were in the first place! However, control freak that I am, it’s hard to predict what I’ll say, so they pressed their hands in twice!


So there you go. Basically for the most classic look, I would stick with the most neutral looking colour. Anything generally poured in concrete is the same colour everywhere so they end up as neutral as a pair of jeans.

So here’s our driveway basically ready to be poured, the front and backyard has now been graded and topsoil added.

They poured the first half on Friday.

And then came back on the following Monday to pour the second half. Over the unusually hot weekend the neighbours wondered why we weren’t watering the driveway and it wasn’t until Tuesday night when the contractor came to remove the forms that he told us we should have been watering it?

Will it crack now?? We’re worried.

What Colour should your Concrete Driveway be?Here’s the picture of our house before we even bought it!

And here it is with the new driveway and without all that additional concrete along the side and of the house and 1/3 of the backyard which is how it was before.

See the sand? It’s ready for the flagstone. Love the curvy pathways MaryAnne White my landscape Architect from New York has designed for us!

The world of long distance design has come a long way!!

The flagstone went in this past weekend, can’t wait to show you but it’s all looking very brown and black right now because there’s nothing green in sight yet, eeeek!

So over to you my lovelies? Coloured driveways or not? You know what my vote is.

Related posts:

The Two Kings of Muck Mountain on Elizabeth Avenue

Maria’s New Laundry Room: Before & After

Painting House Numbers: Before & After

If you would like your house to fill you with happiness when you walk in the door, become a client on-line or in-person.

Download my eBook, How to Choose Paint Colours – It’s All in the Undertones to get my complete step-by-step system on how to get colour to do what you want.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

If you would like to learn how to choose colour with confidence, become a True Colour Expert. Fall dates now open for registration.


26 pins


  • Don’t know how it is up there in Canada, but here concrete changes color over the long course of time. It seems to get yellower with age.

    My husband worked for a concrete company for awhile and they were told these two definite things about concrete: one, it gets hard and two, it cracks–eventually. If you fret over the last one, you’ll be unhappy from the get-go.

    I think your driveway will look nicest when all the rest of the landscaping is complete. Now looking at it is like looking at an interior room before it’s completely decorated: It all comes together in the end 🙂

    Love seeing your home taking its new shape!

  • Nicole says:

    Well this post was a coincidence! I was doing research today on stained concrete and was wondering what to do with a backyard concrete slab patio. Would you leave that in the neutral concrete ‘colour’? Or would you recommend staining the concrete patio to work with the exterior house colour or stonework? Would love to hear your two cents!

  • We recently installed a concrete driveway, and we had colorant added so it wouldn’t read cold. We chose Butterfield’s Earthen. I think it worked well with our period home, painted in Ben Moore’s Bittersweet Chocolate trim, gray stone, and Sherwin Williams’ Cocoon siding. Wanted it to blend into the landscape, rather than sticking out like a sore thumb. So expensive, though!

  • MichelleD says:

    It’s not just coloring the concrete that makes or breaks the project, but how it is fully intergrated into the house and surrounding environment.
    Color is just the tip of the iceburg , as far I as am concerned. More emphasis should be assigned to how the concrete will be finished and what matrixes are going to go into the body.
    Most of my favorite motorcourts that we have designed + built are those that expressesed a sense of place combined with the owners personality. A Fibonacci mosaic pattern was installed on one hillside motorcourt while another took a very ‘Japanesque” approach. We rarely do basic grey anymore. There is already too much of it around to bore a whole state to tears.

  • I did not know that all concrete was the same color, but changes as it ages. Around here, if people irrigate their lawns with well water, the driveway can get rust or black coloration in time. Then it’s time for the pressure washer.

    I think Tara’s advice to paint the gutters, downspouts, and garage door trim is excellent. I follow her blog. She’s a designer/decorator/landscape architect, and knows her stuff.

    I know your front yard will be beautiful. I can easily envision the flagstone walkway. What a delightful entrance.

  • tara dillard says:

    At our latitude/longitude leaving concrete without a color is too blasting furnace hot. And too much glare, enough that eyes must be shielded on summer sunny days. Takes many years to calm down.

    If budget allows I like to go with a granite gray. There is so much granite here it ‘flows’ with nature. Reduces heat too. Helps with aesthetics , HVAC expense & increases property value.

    Consider painting your downspout at the garage corner same color as the siding. It visually acts, now, like a ‘column’ to the eye. Paint the trim of both garage doors the same color as the doors. Will make them larger and visually raise height of the doors.

    If you want to raise the height of your roof, paint the gutters Sherwin-Williams, Best Bronze. It’s a copper color that goes ‘up’ into the roof. White gutters bring the roof ‘down’. Of course the downspouts then go Best Bronze too.

    It’s like magic, raising the roof.

    Exciting times watching ya’ll feather your beautiful nest!

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

    • Hi Tara – just read your comments and love your advice. I’m searching out the web for some inspiration shots of Best Bronze. I was glad to see that the trim around my garage IS painted the same colour as the doors – never knew it made a difference but I think it will make a big difference on Maria’s lovely house.

    • Cyndia Montgomery says:

      On target as always, Tara! Great ideas! I really don’t like outlining the garage door with trim color. Save that for the “important” spaces you want the eye to be drawn to!

      • Maria Killam says:

        Downspouts should always be painted out the colour of the house but I disagree on the trim around the garage doors, it should match the rest of the trim in my opinion. Doesn’t mean I’m right, it just flows better to my eye.
        I don’t want any more brown on my house so my gutters will stay white.
        Thanks for your comments!

    • Kay says:

      I agree with your recommendation to paint out the garage door(s) trim to match the siding. The contrast of the trim color, especially the clipped corners(which don’t relate to anything else), makes the small facade too choppy to my eye. Unified color will widen the front of the house too. Even though the opposite wing is broken up by contrast trim on the pair of windows, I think the overall result would be more pleasing.

  • Debbiecz says:

    We’ve done three patios in a concrete stain and like them all. But…one was suppose to be a faint green tinge (I had seen it elsewhere and they promised the same color) so it wouldn’t be a big glaring white concrete slab. Our concrete is much whiter…it all depends on location. Now that the patio has gotten “dirty” the green isn’t as apparent but I would have gone lighter or more of a tan. A solid through & through coloring is better than a stain on top. A friend did a stamped pattern with a color sprayed on top. It looked good for a few years but as things have chipped you can see the grey underneath. I do like my basement floor that I did with a Rustoleum stain process. Perfect for kids, clean up and boisterous pool players!

    • Sharon says:

      Debbie, just a question about your basement floors. Were they painted before you did the stain or were they the “raw” cement color? We bought tbhis house with painted cement basement floors and I want to change that so am wondering if the Rustoleum stain would cover the paint and do I have do do something to the floors before doing the stain? Thanks for your advice.

  • Marilyn says:

    Hi Maria – How about a concrete pool apron? We have bluestone coping around the pool and a deep blue interior color but the new concrete looks so white – even a year later. I was going to stain it a very pale gray or tan to reduce the glare.

  • I couldn’t agree with you more, Maria. Nothing is worse than seeing one of those stamped and coloured (and shiny) driveways leading up to a house – I remember one in the neighbourhood that was a red brick colour and had a slight incline – it’s ALL you saw of this house despite the home itself being beautiful.

    On another note, I remember my kids doing exactly the same thing on a new concrete pad we were laying. Fun memories.

  • Kathy says:

    Well, to be honest I have a cement driveway and the street on our culdesac is also cement. It’s the one thing I hate. It’s too much cement in a small area. When the sun is shining it really becomes glaring. All the homes are a western reserve style painted various shades of white with different color doors. It would have looked much better if dare I say…it was asphalt. I’ve had asphalt with my old home and that blended in with the landscaping beautifully. I agree, I really don’t care for the stamped cement. It doesn’t fool anyone. My favorite is brick but I’m not rich. As you can see cement is a pet peeve of mine haha.

  • Missi says:

    I like stained concrete- either driveways or patios. Our place looks completely different from anyone else’s in our area b/c we take great pride in our DIY landscaping. And then we have this plain, ugly wide driveway that is concrete grey and looks like everyone else’s. And a concrete grey patio in the back with concrete grey blocks around it. Bleh. We also have a large area of our backyard bricked w/the red colored concrete blocks and it makes a huge impact/difference. We will be staining our driveway and back patio/blocks. Gah-I don’t know if I can handle going against Maria’s advice!!

    • Maria Killam says:

      Haha, I guess all I’ve seen with stained concrete is bad examples. . . I see there are lots of exceptions with these comments. So my advice is now this “If all else fails and you don’t know what to do, leave it natural”.

  • Jennifer says:

    Our driveway is unstained concrete, but when we had a concrete pad poured in the backyard to extend grilling/seating area we had a colored concrete, our small deck is stained a cedar red/brown and the concrete was colored a lighter red/brown and looks great, blends in much better than gray concrete with it’s earth tones.

  • We are currently doing work to the outside of our home and opted for an asphalt driveway – I love the black. As for concrete, we will have a path at the side of the house that is ‘exposed aggregate’ or tumbled concrete – whatever you prefer to call it. The colour of the stones used will be grays and whites to tie in with the house. Front patio still to be decided, may go with large pavers there. Be careful in winter on the poured concrete, my neighbour across the street did his driveway with it and says in winter it’s like an ice rink!

  • Hi Maria,
    I wonder why instead of such a huge expanse of concrete that even with landscaping will dominate the house facade, one did not consider a permeable surface, or break it up using granite or cobble edging and maybe breaking it up further into bigger geometric shapes using the same granite cobbles or brick. Brick pavers maybe? When I am involved in a landscape design project, one of the first thing I encourage the client to do is minimize the presence of huge concrete “runways” if at all possible. Although I am not a huge fan of stamped concrete, I have seen stains used that are amazingly beautiful, both inside and outside. Just some ideas.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Hi Charisse,
      Maryanne recommended a beautiful driveway similar to what you are describing which cost a lot more and made no sense since most of the driveways on our street are in actual fact asphalt. This job is massive in scale and cost given that we had to take out the entire front and back yard because there was nothing redeemable about any of it and is over-renovating already. Maria

      • There are indeed cost differences regionally, and I am sure with all the ideas in store for landscaping it will only add to how nicely it is coming together. Your nephews are adorable!

  • terry says:

    Wow! Your little blond nephew looks just like you!
    Lucky you to have such cuties close by.

  • Kathleen says:

    We have a beautiful mid century modern home and needed more parking so we hired an architect to design a carport to attach to our house. It turned out beautiful, looks like it has been there with the house for 60 years. When the contractor poured the cement for the parking pad I asked if he had “60 year old gray” as a color for the cement. He knew exactly what to do and stained it to match the surrounding cement.
    It is important to keep the integrity of a project, and staining something new to look old can make a big difference in the end result.

  • mrsben says:

    We have two very long laneways flanking our home however both are asphalt with insets of interlocking stone and I love them! Concrete as versatile as it is; is just not recommended for large surfaces in our cold climate as over time ‘the survey says’ ☺…. they do crack.

    Realize photos can be deceiving but I am wondering about the entrance to that glorius flagstone pathway you are planning on. Presume you have considered the number and/or size of vechicles that will be parked as you do want convenient access to it (particularly for yourself on a daily basis if not using the garage entrance to the house). Everything is coming together so beautifully, Maria! -Brenda-

    • mrsben says:

      P.S: Re my comment above and concrete cracking. Should also have mentioned, if living in an Earthquake zone it is not recommended. (Just experienced a 4.8 magnitude one (May 17th) in Southern Ontario and we in Canada’s capital actually felt it.))

  • SandyCGC says:

    I think it’s a very, very big “depends” thing. In Sun City West, Arizona, the homes in each area are pretty much the same style and there’s tons of concrete sidewalks and driveways whose concrete has been bleached at glaring white with all of the sun over the years. “Doing” the patios and driveways is big business and lots of homeowners have gone that route. Very few of them have improved the situation, in my opinion. In fact, so many people make such a drastic mistake choosing the color to repaint their house (our tiles roofs vary in color and most people just ignore the roof). If the house ends up looking awful, there’s no hope for the driveway. If in doubt, stay with the natural concrete. Yours look lovely, Maria, and in fact focuses my eyes directly up to your house. And that curved walkway to the house is going to be an absolute thing of beauty once the plants take their place. Good job!

  • Dee says:

    I think it turned out great! Around here (Utah), most colored concrete/stamped driveways are not the right color to complement the home and so the focus and attention goes right to the orange or red driveway. As far as watering the driveway after it’s poured, I haven’t heard of that. But I do know that when our driveway was poured (in the hot summer), they kept adding water to the top so they could work with it. And from then on, it’s been flaking and pitting, and it’s just going to get worse until we have to ultimately replace it. So given that, I’m wondering if it’s better than you didn’t water it?

  • Maryanne says:

    Love the added hand prints!

  • Angela Taylor says:

    Never would have given my concrete a second thought. I have a red brick patio out back and my house is blue. Not a huge fan of blue, but had no choice in the matter as we live in the Norwegian town of Poulsbo and the houses in our development are bright and cheerful.
    I was really more interested in your darling nephews. They are so cute! Thanks for sharing:)

  • Wendy says:

    I think I’m in agreement with Tara about the gutter color. Why highlight something you wish would just go away? (reminds me of the orange mantel in your client’s stone fireplace yesterday…) Gutters don’t have to be brown…but blending them with the roof color will keep the lines of the house cleaner.

    Here in California, toxic run-off from concrete driveways and asphalt is discouraged, so permeable drives are the more modern solution. Planted with small scale, low plants (thyme, etc.) one can mow them along with lawn.

    • Barbara says:

      Hmmmm, pretty hard to shovel snow and melt the ice off off plants, though!

      • Wendy says:

        I have no direct experience, but I’m told that permeable driveways melt much faster, and can be shoveled and snow-plowed. The plants revive yearly.

  • joanne says:

    Hard to tell on my screen….What color is your siding? Great improvement.
    P.S. Love hearing about your nephews, and how involved you are with them. Cute guys.

  • BillP says:

    Hi Maria, congratulations on completing such a big (and I’m sure expensive) project. The downside, of course, is that it’s a lot of concrete, and the garage is not the prettiest part of your house. I would encourage you to reconsider Tara’s advice regarding the garage door trim. You made a smart decision to paint the doors the house color. If you also paint the door trim, you will bring more attention to the focal points of your front door and fountain. The garage door is an awkward shape, why call attention to it? If I lived closer to you, I’d offer to paint the trim myself.

  • Julie S says:

    Wow, I’m so glad to hear your take on this. We tore out our disintegrating asphalt driveway and poured concrete about a month ago. I was toying with getting it colored (because I had no idea what the undertone of regular concrete was) however things moved too fast on that project for me to really get into that option. Luckily it turned out just fine and now I don’t have to worry about should-have with coloring it!

  • Maria Killam says:

    This angled photo makes it look like my house is ALL CONCRETE DRIVEWAY but I assure you it is not. It’s a huge lot because it’s a rancher and the driveway is far from being a focal point as you’ll see when I post photos further down this project.

  • Kim says:

    At our home, we have asphalt down the long driveway to a couple of parking spaces near the front of the house, asphalt circling around to the back which meets up to cement in the rear of our home to get to the hillside garage (which has a custom grated area to catch all the water that flows in from all over Oregon) AND we have a “stamped” patio with the same “stamping style” leading to the hot tub. Somebody says that stamping style fools nobody, and they are correct!
    What I like?….my grandchildren can ride bikes easily around the house, I can walk down to the garage without slipping and falling, no more clouds of dust following the vehicles and fewer car washes, and yet…it really could all look better, but it all looks okay, because there are other good things to see, thankfully. Everything wears out, nearby trees continue to grow and their roots push up and crack asphalt and cement, (thought those trees were too big for more growth).
    Well, I really like your new driveway, Maria, and I also, like so many other of your Lovelies, love to see the progress. Thank you for sharing and for all your great ideas!

  • I agree with Maria, just keep concrete, concrete. Who wants to draw attention to it?

  • Betsy OShea says:

    Funny but oN long island NY we dont do concrete. Most homes hv either gravel which looks most natural i think (bluestone, red rock or pea gravel) or blacktop/asphalt. Must be the climate w cold winters and all. I agree w those who suggested painting garage trim the field color. Better to de-emphasize the unfortunate 60’s-80’s trend of attached garages front and center. Nice when you hv the property width to place garage doors on the side.

  • sandi says:

    Maria, I was wondering why you did not score the driveway to break up all that concrete. Perhaps a large diamond pattern? Your thoughts. Thanks

    • Maria Killam says:

      $$$$$ It’s already over the top expensive that we have ripped out the front AND back yard to do it all at once. The angle of the photo makes the house look like it’s all driveway but I assure you it is not. Great question, Mary Anne designed a beautiful scored driveway but you have to stop somewhere and I would rather have more money for other things that are more visual. Maria

  • Anne A. says:

    Am in Colorado and think I will tint the concrete driveway and new walkways to bring down the glare of regular concrete and so it does not overwhelm my small front yard, which gets full sun; I also want to tone down the color so there is not such a sharp contrast with the grass, mulch and plants. Almost wish I could do asphalt or gravel for the low color contrast but I need to be able to shovel, and I am in city limits, with sidewalks, so only concrete for driveways in this neighborhood. Is a big ticket item; any thoughts on brushed surfaces or colors to use? Am not doing stamped. Thanks!

    • Maria Killam says:

      But unless your driveway will be green what colour would be better than the colour of concrete which is like denim in the world of driveways and sidewalks? I would stick to no stain unless you have a really good design reason to do otherwise. Hope this helps, Maria

  • Ellie Davis says:

    I didn’t know that the undertone of a sidewalk was actually blue. My husband and I are wanting to add a new driveway and sidewalk to our home. We don’t know where the best place to order the concrete is. Hopefully, we can do some research and find the best company to buy this from.

  • Kristen says:

    Hi Maria,
    This isn’t relating to driveways, but if we are doing concrete in our home for our flooring do I need to worry about the green undertone for a modern design?

    • Maria Killam says:

      Yes. It’s a colour that will either work or not work with your decorating, there’s no such thing as a neutral colour that doesn’t need to be considered. Maria

  • Grace Turner says:

    I didn’t realize that concrete had such strong color tints within the grey! My husband and I need to hire someone to replace the concrete on our driveway. We’ll have to make sure we take this information into account.

  • Linda says:

    Excellent to see the drive evolve, looks great.

    We have a long and sweeping driveway with golden stones but want to put grey concrete down at the bottom of the drive (30 square metres).

    How do you get the concrete to have silver sparkles in it?

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