Set your new homes apart with dramatic walkways that define space and offer both ease in maintenance and design options that define outdoor living spaces
By Walt Steele
The point to building houses is to sell houses, and a key factor in selling houses is how the place looks when a potential buyer drives by.
Conventional wisdom would suggest that a contrasting front door would mean a real “wow factor” during the day, while at night, dramatic lighting can be used to play up the front of the house.
One way that builders can set their homes apart would be to go more permanent than merely a coat of paint and setting out a few exterior lights. Choose instead to install a walkway, or walkways, out front, made of genuine clay pavers.
Laura Schwind, a registered landscape architect on the staff of Pine Hall Brick Company, America’s largest manufacturer of clay pavers, points out that today’s clay pavers come in a wide variety of colors beyond the classic reds. That means they can be incorporated easily into the exterior design of the home.
“You can look at the trim color or at the roof color,” says Schwind. “Sometimes, people will go lighter to simulate concrete. Sometimes, they will match it to the roof, if they have a roof that lends itself to that. Sometimes, they will go with the traditional red colors, because that’s what they have seen most often.”
Schwind says that builders should not be afraid to use their imaginations. To start, go big. Laying out a walkway that is, at minimum, four feet wide—wide enough for two people to pass—or even wider, will make a statement. Everybody else’s walkway on the block will look tiny by comparison.
“It makes even an economical house look like a million bucks,” says Schwind. “It adds so much to curb appeal—it makes it look richer and more impressive—it just makes your house a step up from all the neighbors.”
In terms of design, Schwind noted that a straight-on walkway works well for a formal Colonial house, while a curved walkway might be a better choice for a cottage or bungalow style.
Schwind also says that a common sense, intentional approach works best for functionality. If there’s a driveway to one side or the other, consider installing one walkway from the street and a second one from the driveway, both ending at the front door.
“It really does make it more functional and you have more visual appeal, because it helps define the space,” says Schwind. “You could also build in an additional garden area in the front with two walkways as well.”
One of the biggest benefits is that the look will last. With clay pavers, the color goes all the way through and never fades. Leave it as it is and the color will become a rich patina over time; clean it with a diluted solution of bleach and water and a nylon brush and it will look identical to the day it was installed.
Maintenance is easy, as well. Should a tree root heave several pavers out of place, take out the pavers, set them to one side, dig down and cut the root out, then replace the pavers. Contrast that with a concrete walkway, which will have to be dug up and patched—or replaced entirely—to repair the damage.
After figuring out what kind of pavers you want, the next step is to choose a pattern. A herringbone pattern is effective but will require a lot of cuts, as opposed to a classic running bond or basketweave. Finally, before installation, find and mark where your underground utilities are located. Don’t stop there: offering a clay paver patio out back effectively adds an outdoor room to the living space.
In addition to the benefits that clay pavers add to a residence, they also provide a benefit to those who build them: They add authenticity that helps set your business apart from your competitors.
“Clay pavers give a character and uniqueness that will set the houses you build apart,” says Schwind. “Your opportunity for originality is pretty limitless.”