Ordinary concrete driveways casting has been for decades one of the least expensive ways to place a hard surface like a driveway, but you cannot deny the fact that it looks cheap. There are a number of products around that can improve appearance, but first we will see the benefits of plain concrete.
Plain poured concrete
The cost has been mentioned already, and although the pouring and placement of the wet material may be a dirty job, it is probably faster than putting blocks or bricks on the same area unless your home has a very short driveway. The groundworks are certainly not worse than a block work. If you have a good soil, you can get away with digging half the depth of the excavation and not have to put a sub-base either. You may need to lay edges, permanent and decorative, or temporary, only while the concrete is lying, but again it’s probably less work to put a proper edge course for a unit block or a flag.
Once it has been laid, there is very little you can do to decorate the concrete, apart from making grooves with a brush. Although this is something you should do anyway, to help drain and give a safe footing in wet conditions, rather than for looks. On the other hand, techniques have come into the market over the last 20 years that can significantly improve the appearance of concrete.
Patterned and textured concrete
Pattern imprinted concrete (PIC), sometimes called stamped or textured concrete has a pattern printed on it after being laid but before it has dried. Color dyes can be added before printing, so there is really no limit to the look you might have. Then printing occurs, which is really like potato stamps, but on a larger scale.
Molds are large alloy or plastic mats with a raised pattern on them in reverse. Here they are placed on the concrete and groomed to print the pattern.
There are two basic types of pattern. The first is more of a texture, like slate or stone instead of a pattern, and it is easier to establish because there is less precision involved. The other includes more regular patterns where you should take great care to align each carpet with its neighbor. There are a multitude of models available in this second category, the most popular is a herringbone pattern in brick or stone patterns, but cobbles do well too.