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It's that time of year when homeowners plan the “big” outdoor projects. Patios, decks, new roofs and new windows are among the exterior projects that top the list.

When planning, be sure to consider all the new product alternatives available today. They can give you flexible, affordable options that you may never have considered.

Take, for example, the deck, patio or walkway project you’ve been dreaming about for years. You’ve probably thought about wood, various types of stone or pavers. But have you ever considered concrete?

No, not the “gray” concrete that probably just came to mind. New products such as liquid coloring admixtures and finishing techniques developed by innovative concrete experts such as Master Builders and color experts L. M. Scofield Company, can give you affordable concrete choices beyond your wildest dreams.

Like what? Concrete with color. Concrete with textures and patterns. Concrete with decorative finishes. Concrete that offers contrasting or complementary borders. Concrete that can replicate the look and texture of wood, tile or stone and is actually easier to maintain than either.

Can’t picture it? Chances are you’ve already seen colorful concrete in pathways at your local nature center, or in the streetscapes and “rocks” and “boulders” at some of America’s most popular theme parks. Or the neighbor up the street that just put in a new driveway constructed of “pavers” with the “brick” border. Look a little closer. They just may be concrete. Colorful, textured concrete can be made to look like so many other traditional building materials, it’s often difficult to tell the difference

Experienced local contractors have the know-how and experience to help homeowners choose the very best colorful concrete options for a particular project. They are familiar with the materials that will offer the best durability in specific geographic areas. Slopes, curves or grade changes aren’t an issue for these professionals. They have the experience to help you tackle the most difficult project, and their problem-solving abilities help you compare material costs to give you the best value for your dollar.

You’re probably thinking “expensive.” Think again. It’s more affordable than you think. Colorful concrete is a cost-effective alternative to wood, stone and other building products. The installed cost per-square-foot of colorful concrete is often dramatically less than a majority of the products it can replace. Plus, concrete has a durability factor that many of the more traditional materials can’t begin to approach.

Maintenance? Colorful concrete patios, walkways or decks merely need to be rinsed with water from a hose. A periodic application of a clear sealer helps maintain a crisp, colorful appearance.

“Colorful concrete not only gives homeowners the ability to ‘personalize’ their projects,” said color concrete expert Steve Somerville of Master Builders, “but they love the durability and ease of maintenance.”

Want to learn more before talking to a contractor? It’s easy. Just visit the Concrete Lifestyles website at www.concretelifestyles.com. The website provides a wealth of background and information about colorful concrete. It also allows visitors to select one of eight views of driveways, patios, pool decks and walkways and choose a color, texture and color and pattern for edging, and gives a true visualization of what a project might look like.

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