Concrete is functional. But beautiful? Not so much. It does its job, and that’s usually all we expect from it. In fact, it can be quite boring. But the reality is, stamped concrete can creates beautiful surfaces for your home or business. You can have all the strength and durability of concrete but with the beautiful look of a variety of stone or wood surfaces. And there’s always new ideas arises about how and where to use it!
How Stamped Concrete Works
Stamping concrete involves just a few steps. It does require working quickly with wet concrete, though, so it’s not the best DIY project for most people. But there are many competent professionals that can help you install your surface.
First, the concrete has to be colored. This can be done while it is mixed or it can be added to the surface afterward. The color here will be your base color. That is, if your pattern will look like red bricks, then the concrete at this stage is dyed brick red.
Next, the secondary color is added. Sticking with our example of bricks, of course you’ll want it to look like there’s mortar between them.
Finally, the actual pattern is stamped onto the concrete. A stamp made of metal, or more recently polyurethane, is placed on the surface. The contours of the stamp shape the surface of the cement.
It’s as simple as that! The hard part is that concrete dries fast. Once it dries, of course, it can’t be colored or stamped.
Awesome Ideas for Stamped Concrete
There’s a lot of amazing ways to use stamped concrete. Walkways and driveways are among the most popular. Swimming pool decks are another favorite. But there are a few lesser-known ways, as well.
Creating Outdoor “Rooms”
If you have a large yard, you might like to dedicate different parts of it to different activities. It’s easy to make that obvious with stamped concrete!
Sections of patio with connecting walkways can really create a distinct feel for each section. For instance, you could have an area for a fire pit, another that serves as a “living room” and a third for an outdoor kitchen. Separate them and have short walkways leading from one to another. And pick a texture and color that’s unique for each! This also works great if your yard has a significant slope. You can have patios at different levels.
Speaking of fire pits, it’s not only walking surfaces that can be done in stamped concrete. You could build the outside of the fire pit itself to match your walking area. Or maybe you want flower boxes around the edges of the patio. Or how about the upright ends of your counters in your outdoor kitchen? There’s no need to restrict your creativity to walking areas!
Great Indoor Finishes
Another idea is indoor uses of stamped concrete. The mudroom or laundry room are prime opportunities. Another is the basement. Since many basements have concrete floors anyway, it’s a fantastic idea to make that stamped concrete and finish your basement. Add a touch of class to a billiard area with the look of marble. Or go for an aged wood panel look for the man cave. There are no limits to what you can do, and there’s no reason to restrict yourself to outdoors!
Great New Patterns, Too
We’ve looked at some ways you can use stamped concrete both indoors and out, but let’s also talk about some of the patterns you can choose.
Probably the best-known designs in stamped concrete look like flagstone, pavers and other types of stone. But there’s much more you can try. With the development of polyurethane stamps, it’s been easier to have more versatility. The older metal stamps were much harder to create.
Let’s look at a couple great designs:
Fractured stone gives the awesome appearance of hand-carved stone. It has rounded edges and a surface that appears irregular. It can give your patio, walkways and entryway the appearance of an ancient rock.
Cobblestone is another awesome appearance. This colonial look definitely adds a touch of something special to your surfaces. If you’ve wandered through a historic district, you’ve surely seen its charm. But with stamped concrete, you also avoid its drawback – like stubbing your toe or tripping over a stone that’s gotten out of place.
We’ve talked about the great ways you can imitate various types of stone. But did you know that you can also imitate a fantastic wood look, without getting splinters? Wood planks or slats look great beside the floor, in the rec room or for your entryway, to name a few.
What About Maintenance?
Worried about the work you’d have to put into keeping up this beautiful surface? In reality, stamped concrete is incredibly simple to maintain. Indoors, simply use a wet or dry mop. It’s a good idea to use felt pads under the legs of furniture, too – but that’s true for just about any surface.
Outdoors, sweeping is sufficient. You can also hose it down or even power wash it if you want.
In both cases you can use a mild liquid detergent as needed; just be sure to wash it off thoroughly.
You should also have the surface resealed every 2-3 years. This protects the colors and surface of the concrete.
If there are stains, alkaline cleaners work well. Consult your contractor for recommended products.
Stamped concrete offers a multitude of options for improving your house both indoors and out. The wide variety of appearance that can be achieved allow you to have the look and feel you want. And the versatility of concrete allows it to be used in many formats to create the space you need.
About the Author
Bill Michaels works for Patterned Concrete as a media outreach specialist. The company is an expert and pioneer in stamped concrete since 1972. It has grown from its Toronto-area roots to have franchises across North America.