In simple terms, stamped concrete is just cement which is ornate and/or has more texture or markings to look like natural bricks, slates, flagstones, river stones or tiles. Since stamped concrete can mimic almost any material it is an ideal way to create replicas of other expensive materials while improving functionality and increasing durability. The end result of stamped concrete is a surface that is beautiful, durable and requires little if any maintenance. A great quality of stamped concrete is that it is a customizable product that can be tailored to suit your individual design goals and budget, whether you want to achieve a natural look or be wildly innovative.
Advantages of Stamped Concrete
- Stamped concrete is permanent
- Handles excess water better than pavers
- More effective and durable, especially on slopes
- No retainer curb necessary, as required on most paver applications
- Unlimited selection of colors
- Less maintenance required
- No weeds or vegetation in joints
- High-flex structural strength
Stamped Concrete Process
1. Subgrade your work area
This process is an integral part of your process because it will make a big difference in the overall performance of your slab. You want to make sure that your area is well-compacted to insure proper drainage and prevent soil erosion under the concrete.
2. Correct placing of the forms
You can use wood, metal or plastic forms to contain the concrete in your desired area. It is important that your forms you are using are in good condition to create clean corners and allow for proper sloping and drainage.
3. Installing reinforcement
In order to have the most structural function to your slab use steel reinforcing bars or welded wire mesh that will help control cracking, reduce joint maintenance and provide impact resistance.
4. Pouring the concrete
The most common method is to have a ready-mix truck deposit the concrete from its chute into your prepped area. You want to make sure to cover any landscaping or areas you wish to keep clean with plastic sheeting to avoid a mess from possible splatter of the concrete. Having it poured will also give you the most consistency compare to hand mixing and moving it with shovels.
5. Leveling out the concrete
This step needs to be done immediately after the concrete has been poured so that the surface is level and will help prevent any low or high spots to create the perfect canvas for stamped concrete.
6. Applying your color
There are three main types of coloring and/or staining for your stamped concrete. They are integral, shake-on or acid stain coloring. We will discuss the differences between all three below so you can see what process will fit your needs most.
7. Stamping process
There is a short time window to stamp your concrete especially in warm weather which is why planning out your desired diagram ahead of time is essential. You want to stamp the concrete in the same sequence as it was placed. The edges are usually the first to be done because after you use a larger stamp for the main portion it will not depress correctly into the concrete near the edges. You want to keep an eye on your alignment to ensure your patterning stays random to ensure a more realistic look.
This is one of the most important processes of stamped concrete to allow it to dry properly and be able to retain sufficient moisture allowing the concrete to become more dense and permeable which will help with the overall strength and durability of your slab.
9. Creating joints
Creating contraction joints or control joints will help prevent stress in your concrete that can be caused by temperature changes and drying shrinkage.
10. Sealing your masterpiece
This is the final and most essential step yet. Sealers will help enrich the color of your concrete as well as add a visually appealing sheen which will reduce your chances of surface discoloration, stains or chemical saturation.
Coloring Process of Concrete
One of the most popular methods for coloring newly placed concrete is integral coloring admixtures. Admixtures infuse concrete with rich, long-lasting, fade-resistant color. The color of your choice, which is usually earth tones or pastels, are mixed into the concrete at the batch plant or on the jobsite. It will produce one uniform color throughout the entire width of your concrete. This is beneficial if the concrete ever gets chipped. Stamped concrete contractors often use this coloring medium to produce a backdrop for contrasting accent or antiquing colors. This layering of colors is what enables them to closely replicate the multi-tonal appearance of natural stone.
Some of the benefits using integral color are:
- Consistent color throughout concrete
- Permanent non-fading color
- Large array of standard colors to choose from
Helps prevent your concrete stamps from sticking to the concrete as well as adds subtle color which results in an antiquing effect. This tends to be one of the most popular methods for stamped concrete because unlike integral color that colors the entire concrete, shake color is hand shaken on the surface only on the top layer. Since the color resides on the surface it is usually a more intense color. Shake-on also helps improve the strength and density of the concrete creating a sharper imprint from your stamp.
Some of the benefits using Shake on color are:
- Nonfading, permanent colored surfaces
- Durable in freeze/thaw conditions
- Hard, dense and abrasion-resistant
- Cost-effective and easy-to-maintain
Acid stains are neither paint nor a coating agent; rather, it is a coloring process involving a chemical reaction on the concrete surface. Acid stain is a solution made with water, acid and inorganic salts that react with the minerals already present in the concrete which results in the vibrant and abstract coloring it produces. It is very durable and the colors that tend to form from using this method are earth tone browns, reddish browns and greens. If you prefer more of a uniform color this is not the process for you because it produces different reactions resulting in a mix of coloring formations. The beautiful attribute to acid stains on stamped concrete are due to the texture; it has stunning color depth.
Some benefits of acid stains are:
- You can use this process on existing concrete flooring
- They are inflammable and the finish is ultraviolet light-resistant
- Acid stain does not chip, peel, discolor or fade
- Extrudes beauty that is unsurpassed by any other flooring covering
- It can be transformed to create a feel of quarried stone such are marble
You are probably wondering what the cost associated with stamped concrete is? It can vary widely depending on the prices for materials and labor in the area that you live. Generally on average, if you wanted basic stamped concrete with one color and one pattern you will pay roughly $8 to $12 per square foot. If you are going for a more elaborate look with multiple patterns and special coloring effects, you will be spending on average about $18 per square foot and up. If you compare stamped concrete to the cost of plain concrete or asphalt it will most likely exceed that cost significantly, but when comparing it to its closer counterpart, natural stone or brick pavers, it can be even lower than the cost of installing that material. When comparing the cost of stamped concrete verses other materials keep in mind that concrete generally lasts longer and requires less maintenance than most other paving materials saving you money in the long run. If you are selling your home, decorative stamped concrete adds curb appeal and aesthetic value to your home allowing you to maximize your ROI.
Lindus Construction / Midwest LeafGuard is a full service contractor specializing in LeafGuard Gutters, GAF Asphalt Roofing, SeasonGuard Windows/Siding/Insulation, Metal Roofing, Decking, New Construction & Home Remodeling. Call us at 1-800-873-1451 or check us out on the web at http://lindusconstruction.com. Tune into WCCO 830 every Saturday at 9am for our Home Improvement Show with Denny Long & Andy Lindus.