What Is Stamped Concrete?

Tuesday, March 24 2015 10:58 AM

Stamped concrete is a type of concrete design that “stamps” a concrete surface in order make it resemble another material, such as brick, slate, flagstone, or even wood. Most of the time, stamped concrete is used for outdoor living areas, such as patios and walkways, pool decks and pond surroundings. However, stamped concrete can also add beauty indoors, as well.

Stamping concrete started in the 1950s, but became popular in the 1970s as a way for builders to get great looking results for customers on a budget. The range of designs and colors has increased dramatically over the years and its use has also increased due to its wide range of applications for patios, decks, driveways, highways and even interior floors.

Stamped Concrete

The Benefits of Stamped Concrete?

The biggest benefit of stamped concrete is that it can be made to look like another building material for less money, sometimes substantially less. Concrete is a more affordable option than brick,

slate, stone, flagstone, wood or tile, and stamped concrete can mimic these textures. What’s more, stamped concrete can be artistically designed to add aesthetic value to the surface. It can also be stained nearly any color, offering more freedom and choice in your design. The concrete can then be finished in a matte or glossy appearance, offering a variety of design choices that suit every property owners’ personal preference.

Installing Stamped Concrete: Can I Do It Myself?

Concrete can be a difficult medium to work with for DIYers without prior experience. Laying concrete requires installing a base of compacted sand and gravel, specialized tools to shape and smooth the surface, and a practiced, steady hand because mistakes can become permanent. Concrete sets relatively quickly, so getting good results from the stamping process will be difficult to impossible if all of these procedures are not done correctly.

Installing stamped concrete involves a number of phases: Setting the pitch, digging out the area where the concrete will be laid, pouring the concrete, stamping it, and sealing it; it’s a lot to keep track of. Usually, the entire process can be completed in a week or less, depending upon the size of the area.

Adding a Stamped Finish to an Existing Concrete Patio Slab

You can add a stamped finish to existing concrete as long as the slab is in good condition. It requires raising the overall height of the slab by about an inch, so you will need to ensure the new height doesn’t interfere with exiting patio features like vents, steps, foundation walls or siding.

Stamped Concrete vs. Pavers, Brick or Cobbles

Most people agree that stamped concrete, due to its ability to be ornate and artistic, is generally more “wow-inducing” than pavers, brick, cobbles, etc. While stamped concrete usually comes with a slightly longer installation and sealing process, it also provides a more cost-effective option up front.

While pavers, brick and cobbles can also add to the aesthetic value of your patio, their interlocking pieces are susceptible to frost-heave and other underlying surface changes that can require added maintenance or replacement down the road. They also allow weeds and grass to grow in through the cracks, requiring added time and maintenance.

If you’re trying to cover an uneven surface, however, brick, pavers or stone will conceal the surface well. But if your surface is already flat and level, you’ll want concrete laid in the same way. Since concrete is a continuous surface, nothing can grow up and through it and reinforcing rods in the stamped concrete will bind the pavement together and add strength.

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