Decorative Concrete – Stained, Stamped, Scored and Polished

Introduction to Decorative Concrete

Decorative concrete, also commonly referred to as architectural concrete, can most easily be described as any technique that alters what would be plain, grey concrete to be more aesthetically pleasing. Decorative concrete can encompass many different looks and techniques. It can include simple coloring techniques such as acid stains, acrylic stains, concrete dyes, and integral colors (also called integrated colors; quickstamp mixed into the concrete before it is poured). It can also include special treatments including stamping, scoring, chiseling, and polishing that can change the texture of the surface. Many times, decorative concrete integrates multiple techniques to truly customize the slab.

Stained Concrete

Probably one of the most well-known techniques for transforming plain concrete to be more design-friendly is staining, quickstamp especially for interior applications. This technique involves taking a cured concrete slab and literally staining it to be a different color (or colors). There are two main types of concrete stain. The most common type of concrete stain is an acid stain. It is known for producing rich color. The acid reacts to the concrete and takes on its own life. The result is a marbleized coloring, much like grainy leather. It is probably one of the most difficult stains to work with; it requires much caution while applying because you are working with acid, after all. This stain does not cover defects in the concrete. On the contrary, outdoorsfan it will likely show defects, even those you didn’t see when the concrete was in its natural state. However, this character that the acid stain reveals is part of the allure of the finished product of an acid stain job. Water-based concrete stains and acrylic concrete stains create a much more uniform look than do acid stains. These stains have a thin, milky consistency, allowing them to seep into the concrete’s pores, which differentiates them from any concrete paint, which can flake off because paints simply coat the surface. Because there is no chemical reaction between the stain and the concrete, quick stamp it applies more like a dye.

It is a better alternative than acid stain for concrete pads that have cosmetic defects because coverage is fairly consistent. However, it is still a semi-translucent stain, so it will not completely disguise soils and other defects in the concrete. Water-based stains are also commonly called concrete dyes. It is often used to accent the work of an acid stain job by giving certain areas of the concrete a different color. Acrylic stains offer a wide variety of deep and bright colors with a much broader selection than acid stain offers. Also, whereas acid stains rely on a reaction with the concrete to produce color, the acrylic stain colors are usually the same in the bottle as they are on the concrete. This makes predicting the outcome much easier. It also allows for easier mixing at the jobsite to match other colors around. After the stain job is complete, quickstamp it is recommended to put some sort of protective coating on the surface. This will prevent fading and wear. For outdoor applications, a concrete sealer is recommended. A solvent sealer or xylene-based sealer will leave a durable, semi-gloss coat, whereas a water-based sealer will leave a matte finish. For indoor applications, it is generally recommended to apply a wax, much like that which is used on a gym floor. In summary, staining is usually a good option if you have a concrete slab currently that you would like to add color to. Stains do not hide defects in the concrete, nor do they change the texture of the concrete. They simply add a semi-transparent, semi-permanent color. There are many tools and techniques that expand design options when using concrete stain. For example, there are stencils on the market that allow for a color design. Also, scored lines are also commonly used to add a pattern or design into the concrete.

Stain can also be used in conjunction with stamped concrete to add accent coloring. Plus, there are many different ways to apply stain to achieve different looks. advantages of stained concrete. Of course, the greatest advantage of stained concrete is the visual appeal. Staining concrete allows you to turn a functional element into a design element. Plus, with the wide array of colors and designs, staining can be used to compliment almost any design theme. Another advantage of stained concrete is that it is a semi-permanent, durable option. Because you are simply altering the color of concrete without altering its physical strength, your stained concrete will have the life of a boring, white slab (which some concrete is engineered to last more than fifty years!). Also, qqstamp because the color is actually seeped into the concrete versus a layer on top like paint, it will not flake off like paint tends to. Stain can also be described as a “green” renovation project because you can simply transform what you already have, which means less waste in our landfills caused by starting over. In addition, staining requires no extra material aside from sealer or wax to make the flooring surface ready for use. Stained concrete is just as easy to maintain as a regular concrete slab if not easier because the sealer prevents stains and rinses easily. It may require a new coat of sealer or wax occasionally to maintain the finish. A simple broom or hose will often clean the surface adequately. Finally, another advantage of stained concrete is that it is relatively inexpensive compared to other options while yielding a custom, unique product.

Stamped Concrete

Stamped concrete is another common technique of decorative concrete. It literally involves stamping a pattern and/or texture into freshly laid concrete. That being said, stamped concrete requires that new concrete is poured. This isn’t to say that you can’t add a stamped pattern or texture to your existing patio, it just requires a few intermediate steps. If you have an existing concrete pad that you want to add a stamped pattern or texture to, it requires adding a layer of concrete or overlay mixture. Of course, concrete is preferable, as it is one of world’s most durable materials; however, concrete will require a minimum of two inch height increase. There is another product available, often called an overlay mix, that can be applied as little as three-eighths inches thick. However, this plastic-cement polymer does have a shorter life-span than does concrete. There are limitations to capping your patio with concrete or overlaying it. If your patio is cracked or structurally unsound, it is risky to put any coating on it because that coating will likely crack and shift as well. Capping or overlaying your concrete will effectively hide any stains and minor defects in the concrete, though. The process involves pouring concrete much like you would do for ordinary flatwork. The area is framed up, reinforced with rebar, and smoothed out. In order to stamp, the concrete must be dry enough to not be mushy but wet enough to still hold an impression. The timing is perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of stamping. At this point, large rubber stamps are pounded into the concrete, many times with a tool called a tamper. Some sort of release product is used to keep the stamps from sticking. Other special tools, including “flippie” stamps, grout rollers, etc are used to perfect the area. The coloring of stamped concrete can be achieved in many different ways. Some of the coloring materials available for use with stamped concrete include integral/integrated colors, antiquing release colors, color hardeners, and tinted sealers. Integral colors, also called integrated colors, is color that is mixed into the concrete before it is poured. Integral colors come in both liquid and powder form.

The advantage of integral color is that the color is all the way through the concrete, so if the concrete is ever chipped or scarred, the color will be consistent throughout the slab. Antiquing release colors are usually a powder color applied to the surface before stamping occurs. Its functional aspect is that it keeps the stamps from sticking to the concrete. Its aesthetic aspect is that when the excess powder is scrubbed off, it leave behind great accent coloring in the grooves and crevices. Some release colors also come in a liquid form. Color hardeners are applied to the surface of the concrete. They are used to add color to freshly poured concrete. Because they have a cement content and high PSI, we do not recommend their use in climates that change rapidly because color hardeners can cause what we have coined as a “popcorn” effect, where small circles actually pop out of the surface of the concrete. Color hardeners are usually a powder and come in a wide variety of colors. Tinted sealers are just as you would think; they are sealers that have a transparent color tint added in. Some manufacturers make tinted sealers, or you can simply make them yourself, which is usually a good way to go if you are wanting to mix colors or play with transparency. Before you do this though, you need to know what kind of sealer you have and what kind of color product would mix with it. Tinted sealers also come in a wide variety of color options, especially if you will be making it yourself.

Most of the time, contractors will use a variety of coloring techniques to achieve your look. Contractors may also use the technique that is most familiar to them, leaving the others behind. One thing is for sure: make sure that you quiz your contractor about the coloring techniques they use to make sure you are given the information you need to properly pick your colors. Also, make sure he/she isn’t selling you on coloring techniques that may not be suitable for your climate area. advantages of stamped concrete. For the sake of accuracy, this paragraph does not take into account any overlay products because these products do not carry all of the same advantages that concrete does. Stamped concrete, if it is true concrete, often carries with it many advantages. First, it is known for its durability and longevity; after all, it is concrete! Because it is so durable, it can also be described as an environmentally-friendly option because it won’t have to be replaced in the near future, meaning more materials won’t need to be manufactured and less materials will end up in landfills. Also, it is easy to maintain. The sealer allows cleaning to be as easy as rinsing or sweeping. Occasionally, you will need to recoat the surface with sealer, which is an easy spray or roll on process. Finally, stamped concrete is aesthetically pleasing. It is completely customizable with a wide variety of color combinations and stamp patterns. And, considering how long it will last and how easy it is to maintain, it is a low cost in the long run for a beautiful finish.


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