Having a beautiful front and back yard isn’t just about a good paint job, a lush green lawn, and brightly-colored flowers. Your patio, walkways, and even the driveway should be part of the appeal, too! When you want fantastic-looking hard surfaces, you can’t go wrong with stamped concrete.
This great material offers many advantages in terms of durability, maintenance, and cost. At the same time, it offers a wonderful range of designs and colors. You’ll find at least one option that matches the style of your home and your exterior design goals!
How Is Stamped Concrete Installed?
Stamped concrete is one form of decorative concrete. While it takes some skill to install, it can be explained simply: it’s concrete that’s colored and has designs stamped into it.
This is likely a surface you’ve seen and walked on often without even realizing it. That’s because it looks and even feels like other materials unless you inspect it closely.
Concrete is mixed and poured regularly. While it’s still wet, a dye is cast onto it to provide a base color. Then, stamps are used to imprint a pattern. These stamps have real depth to them, so you get a textured surface – it’s not simply an image on top of the concrete.
After the stamping, other colors are added to highlight the simulated grout lines or other highlights of the surface.
While it sounds simple, it does take skill and experience to do it right. The contractor has to carefully arrange the stamps to create the pattern. Also, the whole time the work is being done, the concrete is drying. That means they have to know how quickly to pour it and how fast they have to work to complete the stamping.
A huge variety of stamps has been developed over the years. That means you can get a concrete surface that looks like cobblestone, brick, running or stacked bond, or even wood planks! Yes, imagine that – a concrete surface that looks like real wood, right down to the grain and a few knots are thrown in.
Some Great Ideas For How To Use Stamped Concrete
Stamped concrete can be used for indoor or outdoor surfaces – anywhere you could use regular concrete! Let’s have a look at some of the great ways you can use it outside.
Your patio is a place you want to be able to relax and enjoy life. It’s great to be able to walk on it without worrying about tripping over an uneven stone. You don’t want to worry about bumps when you arrange your outdoor furniture. You’d prefer to avoid a high-maintenance surface – life is busy enough as it is. But you don’t want something that looks drab, either.
Many patterns of stamped concrete go well here. You could look at a pattern that has irregularly-shaped stone or one that has perfect squares. Since the patio is a larger area, small tiles might be too busy, but larger ones could be a great choice!
While a patio is a destination, you also have various routes to get across your yard or lawn.
It may be from the driveway to the front door, the front to the back of the house, or the street to the entryway. In any of these or other walkways, you’ll love the stylish appearance that stamped concrete adds.
Is your architecture marked by clear, crisp lines? You might like something like running or stacked bond designs. Want something more relaxed to lead to the pool or meander around the garden? Hewn stone is a fantastic look!
Entryways And Porches
There’s no reason you have to stop with the path itself when picking your design. Continue the theme right up to the front door.
The steps to your front can be made with stamped concrete just as readily as the walkway. You’ll have a wonderfully consistent pattern that highlights your good taste!
Or you could create a distinctive look for the porch. How about going traditional with the appearance of wood planks? And you won’t have to worry about it rotting away!
A driveway is great for getting your car off the street, but we don’t often think of making it a beautiful part of curb appeal. It’s often condemned to a boring grey concrete or black asphalt.
However, it can be a fantastic canvas that adds character to your home. Redbrick could be a great look here. How about cobblestone, or maybe a herringbone pattern in brick? You could also opt to have large blocks of “plain” concrete but create stamped concrete borders that help to break it up by adding some character.
Stamped concrete offers a durable surface that will hold up to the wear and tear your driveway experiences. But at the same time, it’s a great-looking feature of your property. There’s no need to sacrifice beauty for function!
Finally, you can’t go wrong when you choose stamped concrete for your pool deck! There are so many options for great designs here. Wood planks to make it feel like you’re at the lake? Natural stone to remind you of youthful days at the quarry lake? A more modern, structured look like running bond? They all look great!
Concrete stays cool, so it’ll be comfortable under bare feet. A special sealant can be used around the pool to make the surface less slippery, even when wet.
All in all, a stamped concrete pool deck provides a wonderful place to relax but that also is part of the design!
How Hard Is It To Maintain Stamped Concrete
Stamped concrete offers beauty, but what about upkeep? You’ll find that it’s simple to maintain and won’t require a lot of work.
One of the keys to preserving any concrete is the use of a sealer. This keeps water from penetrating it and helps preserve the color.
More importantly, it keeps water from being absorbed into the concrete. If water penetrates the concrete, it can lead to cracking. This happens especially in areas where there is a freeze-thaw cycle. Water expands when frozen; if it’s inside the concrete, it will push it apart and form visible cracks.
Sealer is applied when the concrete is installed. From there, it should be reapplied every two to three years. Your contractor can do this and it’s reasonably priced. Or you could do it yourself.
Other than resealing, there is not much you have to do. Common sense helps, though. Remember that concrete is poured for particular uses. For instance, your walkway or patio won’t be thick enough to support cars. Your driveway won’t support a crane or other overweight vehicle. A short stay from a moving van might be ok, but prolonged use or very heavy equipment or vehicles will cause damage.
Also, avoiding scraping sharp objects across the surface. If your barbecue grill doesn’t have wheels, you should pick it up to move. Also, try not to drag garden tools like rakes and shovels across it. And when it’s time to shovel snow, use a plastic shovel.
Also regarding snow, be sure to use snow removal products recommended by your contractor. Salt and some other ice melt products can eat right through the sealer and even the concrete itself!
As far as cleaning, you can sweep or mop your stamped concrete. For a more thorough job, you can use a power washer. If there are stains, clean them up as soon as possible, using a mild detergent (like dish detergent) if necessary.
When you want your lawn and yard to look great, you can’t neglect the importance of the surfaces where you walk or park. Stamped concrete is a great option when you want the best in terms of both durability and good looks. No matter what your taste or the style of architecture of your home, you’ll find a design for you!
About the Author
Bill Michaels works for Patterned Concrete of Ontario, Canada. Since 1972, they’ve been a leader in the stamped concrete industry. From its roots in the Toronto area, it’s grown to have franchises across North America. If you’re a contractor interested in becoming part of our family, get in touch through our website!