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Resin Bound vs Concrete: Which Is Better for My Driveway?

July 07, 2021
Choosing the right material for the driveway is a tricky decision. The wide range of materials are available including imprinted concrete and resin bound. In this blog we explain about these driveways by comparing in order to find the best driveway material fit for your property.

Concrete Driveways

Concrete driveways, especially pattern imprinted concrete driveways, have been around for a long time and used since the early 90s. They come in various textures, patterns and colour blends which adds to the beauty of the property.

A concrete driveway as the name implies is cast in concrete and decorated with a patterned design. The colour or imprint come in various forms either in the appearance of a brick, tile or cobblestone. A Concrete driveway is not an ordinary cement driveway as cement is just one of the components of the concrete. Concrete consists of various sizes of stone aggregates which are bound by a mixture of water and cement (a lime-based binder).

Pattern imprinted concrete driveways consist of aggregate stones which range from the size of gravel to fine sand. It is also known as stamped concrete. It involves pouring concrete on a sub base and then making the desired imprints when the concrete is wet. The imprints can be patterns of any kind, bricks or stones; colours can also be added followed by a hardener.

Pattern imprinted concrete driveways are hard wearing and durable. However, like any concrete surface, it is susceptible to cracking. It also needs re-coating of the surface regularly to maintain its appearance thus increasing the cost of maintenance.

Types Of Concrete Driveways

  • Poured Concrete Driveways
  • Exposed Aggregate Driveways
  • Stamped Concrete Driveways
  • Stencil Concrete Driveways
  • Slate Concrete Driveways

Resin Bound

Resin Driveways

Resin bound, although they have not been around as long as pattern imprinted concrete, have become more popular. It comes with huge benefits making it a material of choice for most people for their driveways. They are made by a mixture of polyurethane resin and aggregates. It is then laid over a strong base (hardcore) to create a stunning, aesthetic and durable finish.

They are hardwearing and flexible too which makes the resin surface less prone to cracking.

There are two types of driveways which are made up of the same materials- resin and aggregates but the difference lies in the method of attachment of both materials. These are:

  • Resin Bound :

    The resin bound is by far the commonest type of driveway in the UK. In the resin bound system, the stones are mixed together with the resin and then laid on a hardcore sub-base. Thereafter, it is compacted and smoothened meaning there is no loose gravel. They are SUDS compliant as they allow rain water to permeate through it to the water table. There is no formation of puddles and standing water.

  • Resin Bonded :

    In the resin bonded type, a layer of resin is spread across a subbase onto which aggregates are scattered and pressed into covering all the resin. With the aggregates exposed and the resin under, some gravel will remain loose and fall off over time.

    Though not as popular as the resin bound, they are cheaper. They are also not SUDS compliant because of its non-permeable surface which means that water cannot permeate through to the water table necessitating additional drainage works to avoid standing water. This is why one must obtain planning permission from the UK planning authority before installation.

As with any concrete driveway, pattern imprinted concrete is gradually losing popularity majorly because of problems associated with maintenance. They are prone to surface spalling and affected by freeze/thaw. Pattern imprinted concrete can be very slippery and this can have a negative impact on areas where anti-slip properties are required.

Pros And Cons Of Pattern Imprinted Concrete

Pros

There are a lot of benefits with installing a pattern imprinted concrete driveway. These include durability, strength, cost effectiveness and versatility which means that a wide range of designs and patterns are possible with pattern imprinted concrete.

The benefits of a pattern imprinted include;

  • Longevity and Durability: Imprint concrete driveways are very durable and long lasting. When installed correctly, and maintained properly, concrete driveways can last for a very long time.
  • Cost Effective: Although they may be quite expensive during the initial installation, yet they prove to be economical since they are durable. Imprinted concrete driveways will surely give you good value for your money.
  • Compliments Existing Property: Pattern imprinted concrete can be made to complement and boost existing outdoor features whether gardens, furniture and other existing colours since a concrete driveway can be patterned into various forms, styles and designs. Concrete driveways add value, elegance and upgrades a property.
  • Versatility: Imprinted concrete driveways are very versatile as they allow for the incorporation of various different patterns, designs, textures, pattern imprinted concrete paint and pressed concrete paint. This is very essential for outdoor space decoration as the driveway can be made to complement existing outdoor properties. With pattern imprinted concrete, there is always a design that will suit the needs and personality of every homeowner. The driveway can be made to have the appearance of a tile, slate, stone, cobblestone or brick.
  • Strength: Imprinted concrete driveways are known for their incredible strength and ability to withstand the use of heavy vehicles on it for a long period of time. This is as a result of its rigidity and non-flexibility.
  • Impervious To Growth Of Weeds: Pattern imprinted concrete if properly installed and well maintained, leaves no room for weeds or moss to sprout.
  • Reaction To Heat And Light: imprinted concrete reflects heat rather than absorbing them as asphalt does. The implication being that they are much cooler on a sunny day since they absorb less UV radiation from the sun. Concrete driveways can also help you save energy costs over time because you will not need as much lighting as for instance an asphalt driveway may need.

Cons

  • One of the drawbacks of pattern imprinted concrete driveways is that it is not DIY friendly especially for large projects and so needs the services of an expert for best results.
  • Also, Treatments, paints and other color-etching do most likely fade away with time meaning that the imprinted concrete will no longer appear as attractive and will need more maintenance than plain concrete. Occasionally there will be need for surface recoating to maintain appearance and aesthetics.
  • Pattern imprinted concrete driveways are also susceptible to cracks as a result of earth movements or very cold temperatures which will need sealants to cover the cracks. Annual maintenance is therefore required to increase the longevity of the imprinted concrete driveway.
  • They are slippery when wet and will need to be sealed with an anti-slip sealant to mitigate this problem else they can cause accidents.
  • Even with the best of installations, there is a possibility of hairline crack.

Pros And Cons Resin Bound

Driveway resin have a lot of benefits which are making it a very popular driveway choice. It is known for its smooth, durable and flexible surface, making it less prone to cracks. In addition to being aesthetically appealing, they require only minimal maintenance in contrast to other types of flooring such as gravel, tarmac, block paving and concrete.

There are two types of resin according to their behavior in the presence of sunlight. The UV resistant and the non-UV resistant resin. With the UV stable resin, it will neither fade nor discolour thus maintaining its beauty for a long time.

Pros of Resin bound

  • Hardwearing: Resin bound are known for their longevity and durability. They can last for more than 20years under normal conditions.
  • Accessibility: They are easy to access while not being slippery at the same time. Therefore, they are ideal for ramps used by bicycles, scooters, buggies, pushchairs and wheelchairs.
  • Surface Smoothness: They are hand finished which give it its characteristic smooth surface. In Resin bound driveways, there are no loose stones. This makes it safe to walk on even in wet and icy conditions as it offers anti-slip properties.
  • Colour Stability: It maintain their colour for a long time and so you are guaranteed no change in colour as long as they are UV stable adding to their durability.
  • Minimal maintenance: They require minimal maintenance meaning that they can be kept clean with only a broom. A power or pressure wash occasionally is also enough to maintain its flawless finish.
  • Impervious to growth of weeds: They are also resistant to weeds, mosses and algae. This is made possible as their roots are prevented from sprouting adding to its very little maintenance requirement.
    • Permeability: Resin surfaces are SUDS (Sustainable Urban Drainage System) compliant. Therefore, water is able to drain away through the surface of the resin patio thanks to its porous surface down to the water table.
    • Adaptability and Versatility: A huge variety of unique designs, logos , and symbols can be incorporated into the resin according to client’s needs. With this, there is always a unique and aesthetically appealing design that will best suit the client’s personality.
    • Variety of colours: They come in a wide range of colour blends and textures in both contemporary and traditional styles. This presents the opportunity for creativity in your driveway.
    • Quick installation: They are faster and easier to install than most other flooring types. This means that you can begin to use your newly installed driveway after 24hours.
    • No installation permission: In contrast to other flooring types, you do not need any planning permission to install a resin because they are permeable and so SUDS compliant.
    • Compatibility: They are compatible and can be laid on a variety of existing surfaces as long they are in good shape. These surfaces include tarmac and concrete.
    • Stability: As long as they are well installed and the base rightly made, it will not sink, cave in, swell or even crack.
    • They are cost effective: Installing a new driveway is an economical option to other flooring systems. It is the cost of land preparation and excavation, which usually takes the bulk of the money. This presents every homeowner the opportunity of having a durable patio or driveway at an affordable price.

Cons of Resin Bound

  • Lack Of Official Regulations: There are no formal regulations and associations for installers, contractors and resin bound companies. Therefore, poorly trained, inexperienced and unskilled installers as well as unlicensed firms can do an unprofessional job for you. This highlights why it is important to seek licensed companies and authorized installers who can do a good job for you.

    Some similar organizations which companies can belong to include;

    • The Resin Flooring Association.
    • The Guild of Master Craftsmen.
    • The Federation of Master Builders.

    Belonging to these associations shows that the company maintains national standards of operation such as the ISO9001 quality management system.

  • Discoloration and Fading: When inferior materials are used, there is a chance that the driveway will not stand the test of time. Also, not all types of resins are UV stable. The aromatic polyurethane resin is not resistant to UV rays and will discolour There over time as against the aliphatic type which is resistant.

Resin Bound Vs Pattern Imprinted Concrete Driveways

Having considered the pros and cons of both driveway types, we will do a comparison of both under specific categories.

Comparison of Resin bound to Pattern Imprinted Concrete Driveways (PIC)

Category Resin Bound Resin Bonded P.I.C
Colour Stable Yes Yes No
Permeable Yes No No
Slip Resistant Yes Yes No
Weed Resistant Yes Yes Yes
Frost Resistant Yes No No
Seamless Yes Yes No
Crack resistant Yes No No
UV resistant Yes No No
UV resistant Yes Yes Yes

Here we see the best pattern imprinted concrete in the following areas;

  • Colour stability
  • Permeability and SUDS compliance
  • Slip resistance
  • Weed resistance
  • Frost resistance
  • Totally seamless
  • Flexibility and resistance to crack
  • UV resistance

Other areas that give resin drive the edge over pattern imprinted concrete include;

  • A wider range of diverse design options
  • Smooth, flat and hard wearing surface
  • Better traction for cars and pedestrians
  • Resistant to thermal movement

Areas Of Similarities

  • Minimal Maintenance

    Both require minimal maintenance to preserve the longevity of the driveway. Both resin and P.I.C driveways can be cleaned and kept tidy using a hose and broom. This is important to get rid of surface dirt which may encourage the growth of surface weeds. Light presser wash can be used occasionally to get rid of dirt on the surface.

  • Weed Control

    In terms of weed control, both of them are similar as their surfaces are impervious to weeds. Weeds unable to sprout as the presence of a well installed sub base prevents the plant from having roots and growing out. This is also one of the reasons why they both require only little maintenance. However, not all patterned imprinted concrete prevents growth of weeds. Some decorative concrete driveways have joints which weeds may grow from. This means that they require sealants every year.

  • Great Capacity

    In terms of strength, both resin and concrete driveways are very strong and have an impressive load-bearing capacity. Concrete driveways are ideal for traffic-heavy applications. They are also very sturdy, hard-wearing and durable especially when laid with a strong sub-base. The resin bound system also ensures that the aggregates are well held together without any loose stones.

Areas Of Difference:

  • Permeability

  • Resin bound are permeable allowing water to drain through and down to the water table. They are the only permeable driving surface around; they do not pose any drainage worries to the homeowner. Since they are permeable, it also means that they are SUDS compliant. Puddles will not form on the surface of the driveway after rainfall.

    Resin bound surfaces are permeable because the sub base is permeable. Installers may use the ‘open grade’ tarmacadam/asphalt as a sub base.

    Pattern imprinted concrete driveways on the other hand are not permeable and will need a UK planning permission before installing.

  • Need For Driveway Sealing

  • UV stable Bound Resin do not need resealing but will maintain their colour for a very long time. This is in contrast to Pattern imprinted concrete surfaces which need to be resealed at least every two years. This is because they are not UV stable but will discolour or fade over time. Sealing is therefore important to maintain the beauty of the driveway.

    Depending on the condition of the driveway, you will need about 25litres to cover between 100 sqm2 and 150 sqm2.

  • Diy

  • Resin can be carried out by any individual who is physically capable to do some kneeling and some lifting.

    For an average sized driveway (about 20 m²) you can use a DIY resin kit to lay the driveway. You do not need to be an expert before you can install a resin bound surface. Again, most resin kit supplying companies give out instructions and guidelines through demonstration videos. These easy to understand instruction videos help DIY customers to install their driveway themselves.

    DIY resin bound gravel kits are very economical especially for a relatively small area as they are also very durable. Resin bound DIY kits contain all you need to create a stunning, permeable and beautiful driveway within a few hours. The resin bound surface can also be used within 12-24 hours or even sooner depending on the size.

    A DIY driveway kit will have everything you need to install a new resin surface of about 1 metre² area. Diveway kits have a wide variety of stones from which you will certainly find a perfect match for your project.

    On the other hand, Pattern Imprinted Concrete driveways are strongly not recommended as a DIY project. Therefore, you must engage the services of a professional to install a concrete driveway for you.

  • Durability

  • In terms of durability, concrete has been around for a much longer time. Concrete driveways can last for at least 30 years and sometimes up till 50 years as long as they are well maintained. Surface Sealing is very crucial to protecting a concrete driveway and improving its longevity. This protects the driveway from fading as well as make an installation look new.

    Resin drive on the other hand although are also durable but are not as durable as concrete driveways. Most resin companies give a guarantee of between 10-15years.

    So, if you are looking for a very durable driveway, concrete driveway may be the better choice.

  • Aesthetics

  • This is one of the areas where resin does extremely well. They can be customized into whatever style, pattern and colour according to the desires of the client. Different unique designs, logos, patterns, and symbols can be incorporated into a resin drive to fit a client’s desires. They are always a unique and aesthetically appealing design fit for any project and any home.

    Concrete driveways on the other hand are rather known better for their functionality than aesthetics and beauty.

    Therefore, resin is just perfect if you desire custom made classy driveways to accentuate your property while remaining durable.

  • Suds Compliance

  • This is one major drawback of concrete driveways. They have zero permeability meaning that rainfall cannot drain through the surface to the water table. Water will remain on the surface forming a pool or flood. This can cause the surface to be slippery especially in icy weather. This is why you will need planning permission before installing a concrete driveway.

    Resins in contrast are SUDS compliant thanks to their unique surface porosity. This characteristic means that water can drain through to the water table. Therefore, you will have no need for a planning permission before installing a resin bound surface.

  • UV Resistance

  • Resin made with aliphatic polyurethane resins are UV resistant. They are stable even in the presence of sunlight. Concrete driveways on the other hand will fade over time. They will also require surface sealants at least every two years to maintain aesthetics.

    With resin driveways, you will be able to save some valuable money which would have been used for periodic surface resealing.

  • Edging

  • For driveways that require special edging or where the shape of the intended driveway site is irregular, choose resin. This is because they can be conformed to fit into any shape unlike the concrete driveways.

  • Cost

  • Of course, this is a very important factor in the comparison of resin and pattern imprinted concrete. Generally, plain concrete driveways are cheaper than resin. The average price per m2 of a concrete driveway is £50. Labour costs on the other hand fall between £200 and £450 per day depending on the complexity of the job.

    The average cost of a resin however, is between £40 – £75 m² especially where there are no additional groundworks to be done before installing the resin surface. Most resin companies charge £60 per square metre.

    The resin bonded driveways are however much cheaper costing about £26 per m2 per square metre.

    That cost could increase to anywhere between £100 – £130 if additional preparation works such as digging, excavation and waste disposal need to be done before laying the resin surface.

    Imprinted concrete driveways cost more than plain concrete driveway. For instance, stamped concrete prices range from £100 to £150 per square metre.

      Factors that affect the cost of a driveway include:

      • Size of the driveway- The area of the driveway affects the overall cost of the driveway such that the driveway cost per square metre reduces as the area increases and vice versa.

        The table below shows the average cost for a UV stable resin overlay laid at a depth of 15mm:

        Area (m2) Price (per m2)
        0-40 £60
        40-100 £50
        Over 100 £45

      Other factors include-

      • Presence Or Absence Of Existing Driveway and its condition-
      • Thickness of the driveway-
      • Design
      • The location of the driveway
      • Drainage requirements
      • Condition Of Existing Driveway
      • Choice Of Resin Bound Aggregate
      • Depth Of The Driveway
      • Edging Requirements
      • The Weather & Time Of Year Of The Installation
      • Purpose Of The Driveway
      • The Quality Of The Resin (UV stable or Non-UV stable)
      • Landscaping and garden design
      • Walling
      • Security and lighting
      Average Cost of Driveway
      Area (M2) Cost per M2 Total Cost
      20 £60 £1,200
      40 £60 £2,400
      100 £50 £5,000
      200 £50 £10,000
      Average Cost For Pattern Imprinted Concrete Driveway
      Driveway size (m2 ) Time Taken Cost Of Material Cost Of Labour Total Cost
      40 4 to 5 days £1000 to £1200 £2600 to £2700 £3600 to £3900
      60 5 to 6 days £1,400 to £1,600 £3,500 to £3,600 £4,900 to £5,200
      100 7 to 8 days £2,300 to £2,500 £5,400 to £5,600 £7,700 to £8,100

      Conclusion

      After careful comparison of these two driveway choices, we see that both types of driveways have their strengths and weaknesses. When it comes to strength and durability, imprinted concrete driveways have the edge over Resin.

      However, in other areas such as cost effectiveness, durability, non-fading, UV resistance, frost resistance, and design customization, driveways are the best.

      Furthermore, its permeability and SUDS compliance ensures that there is no need for further planning permission before installation of a driveway. They also have better slip resistance, crack resistance and require only minimal maintenance. This eliminates the need for surface resealing from time to time as in the case of concrete driveways. Resin bound are also 10 times more eco-friendly than concrete driveways which makes them a wise choice for the environment.

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