Your front and back lawns are a huge part of what makes a house your home. Of course, you want them to be as beautiful as possible. That can include grass, trees, flowers, even a pool or a pond. But it also includes hard surfaces like a driveway or a patio. There’s no reason that they have to be purely utilitarian, though. They can look fantastic, and stamped concrete is one of the best ways to make that a reality!
Too often, homeowners fall into a trap of thinking they can’t do anything about certain parts of their property. Many think that these elements serve their purpose but can’t look appealing. Nothing could be further from the truth! You’re not stuck with bland asphalt or boring concrete.
Stamped concrete is one material that meets the utilitarian purpose for these areas but also has a fantastic look. It can be matched with any architecture and can suit any taste. Let’s talk about what it is and why you should consider it.
What Is Stamped Concrete
Everyone’s familiar with concrete. The truth is, you’ve probably encountered stamped concrete without realizing it. That’s because it’s colored and imprinted to look like other types of surface. The end product looks nothing at all like a concrete slab. Instead, it appears to be brick, quarried stone, cobblestone, tile, or even wood planks! You’ll be convinced that it’s not the real thing! It has all the color and texture of the original.
To install stamped concrete, your contractor starts by mixing and pouring regular concrete. The transformation starts when it’s already poured but still wet. Special dyes are used to add a base color to the mix.
Then large stamps are pressed into the wet concrete. These create the texture - right down to the appearance of grout lines between bricks or space between cobblestones. Stamps are usually part of a set of five or more pieces. They are arranged in various ways throughout the slab to create a realistic appearance.
After the stamping, other color dyes can be added to create highlights for the joints and textured areas.
It’s a simple process but it requires skill. It’s important to apply the right amount of pressure to create a clean and even impression. It’s also important to understand the drying process of the wet concrete because once it dries, you’re out of luck! It requires a lot of experience with concrete to learn the proper pacing. For most people, it’s not a good DIY project.
Why Stamped Concrete Makes A Great Choice
There are a couple of factors that make stamped concrete a good option.
First, you get the reliability and durability of concrete. This material stands up to the test of time with minimal care. In fact, the biggest maintenance task is to have it resealed every two to three years.
You also have an advantage in terms of price. Real brick, cobblestone, or hewn stone will set you back a lot. Stamped concrete, though, is more affordable than these. It’s usually around the same price as concrete pavers. Of course, that’s more than ordinary concrete or asphalt, but those have no real aesthetic qualities. So you get the beauty of more expensive materials but keeping more of your hard-earned money in your pocket.
Finally, stamped concrete offers a huge range of designs and color. Not only are there many different styles of stamps, but there is a wide range of dyes as well. For example, you could choose brick, but also decide whether you want “brick red” or a tan shade. Maybe you want a wood panel look, but within that design, you can go for a dark, weathered look or a bright, fresh tone.
What Else Is Involved In Maintenance
We’ve already mentioned that you should reseal your concrete occasionally. Every two years is optimal. Three years is the outside limit.
Sealer should be used on any concrete, not only stamped concrete. It helps keep water and other liquids from seeping into the material. Unsealed concrete stains more easily. Even worse, if it absorbs water that then freezes, it can lead to serious issues with cracking.
Other than sealing it, though, concrete does not need much care. It’s easy to clean and a little common sense can help keep it in great shape for decades.
Your regular cleaning routine can simply be sweeping or mopping. If there are any stains or marks, a mild detergent should be enough to remove them.
It’s fine to use a power washer as well. This can be a part of spring or fall cleanup . It will help clean out the irregular surface and any edges that are against walls.
When winter rolls around, there are some special concerns. By now, almost everyone knows that road salt is destructive. You should never use it on stamped concrete, regular concrete, or any other surface. It can eat through the sealer and the concrete itself. Besides that, it causes corrosion to cars and damages your house when it’s tracked in on your shoes. Instead, choose a concrete-safe snow melt.
It’s also important not to scratch the surface of your stamped concrete. Use a strong plastic snow shovel instead. Also, avoid dragging other tools across it. They can scratch through the sealer, leading to accelerated damage. The same goes for dragging other items, like barbecue grills or lawn furniture. If you can’t lift them, at least place them on padding to move them.
When you want a great surface that is a part of the beauty of your property, stamped concrete is a great choice. The wide variety of available designs make it a wonderful option for your driveway, entryway, patio, or pool deck. It will surely provide decades of beauty and usability for you and your family!
About the Author
Bill Michaels works for Patterned Concrete in 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!