Stamped concrete involves the process of imprinting wet concrete with a special stamp made to create the appearance of a variety of patterns. These stamps can be made of rubber, wood or metal. Anything that will create an impression can be used. Carved wood blocks or even wrought iron decorations can be used.
An oil coating is usually applied to the stamp to prevent it from sticking to the wet concrete. Then the stamp is hit lightly with some type of hammer to make sure the design has been imprinted. If mistakes are made it is possible to smooth over the area and re-stamp it as long as the cement is still wet.
Patterns and Designs
Stamped concrete is used to simulate many different materials. Slate, sandstone, brick, tile, wood and other patterns are common. You can design your own unique stamp for a truly original driveway. Remember that whatever pattern you choose will be there for many years. It is important to choose something that will remain appealing to you and a buyer should you choose to sell your home.
For ideas on what to choose, look to see if your neighbors have any stamped concrete driveways. There are many brochures and photos available from concrete installers and web sites. Consider the style of your home. Are there any existing patterns that you can incorporate into your design? Try to make sure that whatever you choose, it will go well with the rest of your property and also blend in with the neighborhood.
Powdered concrete coloring is mixed into the concrete to create your choice of color. Natural looking browns, blacks, grays, tans and others are used to create the color of the stone that you want the concrete to simulate.
Another method for coloring stamped concrete is to apply a powder colorant to the surface of the wet concrete prior to stamping. It will become absorbed by the concrete and then a coating of a color release agent is applied. This is followed by the actual stamping process. There are also hand applied color stains that will cost quite a bit more and should be done by professional, experienced installers.
While the cost of stamped concrete will be more than plain concrete or asphalt it is cheaper than using actual stone, slate or other simulated materials. Stamped concrete does have the benefit of longevity over most other driveway materials. It also adds to the beauty and of course the value of your home.
Stamped concrete will provide decades of endurance even under the harshest weather conditions. Although it does depend on the amount of traffic, rainfall and any harsh substances that it has been exposed to, stamped concrete should be cleaned and resealed at least every few years.
If it should start to dull or loose it’s color, a new coat of sealer should return it’s original appearance. For the first winter after it has been installed you should avoid using deicing salts. After that salt should still be used sparingly.
Tips and Techniques
For a professional job it is wise to hire a concrete installer. However, if you choose to do-it-yourself you may still want to consult a professional for advice and ideas. There are a few simple tips that will prevent you from making the most common mistakes should you choose to do-it-yourself.
Order the correct amount of concrete and at the correct slump. If too much concrete is poured, it can make getting the stamping process finished difficult. Concrete that is too wet will require waiting for it to dry enough to be stamped. Concrete that is too dry will make it hard to stamp at a consistent depth. Concrete with too big an aggregate will create problems with stamping as well.
Slabs will need to be jointed to prevent cracking. You should layout the pattern before pouring the concrete. Once poured, it will begin to harden and it will waste time if you have to plan out the pattern. It may make even stamping difficult.
Photo by jessicafm, Creative Commons Attribution License