Giving Concrete the Stamp of Approval
Stamped concrete is one of the smartest choices a homeowner can make, whether it’s for driveways, walkways, lanais, pool decks, countertops, or retaining walls. Not only is this material permanent, low-maintenance and attractive, but there are also countless options for customizing the color, pattern, and stamped imprint.
Reasons to Hire a Concrete Contractor for Your Stamped Concrete Project
While you may fancy yourself a DIY home improvement warrior, there are several reasons why even ordinary concrete is best left to the pros:
- You must understand slope and elevation in order to correctly prepare the sub-base layer and install the forms. Failure to do so can result in low areas that collect puddles of water and other problems.
- You must be able to get the heavy concrete to the forms, either via a ready-mix truck or by wheelbarrow loads. And standard concrete weighs about 150 per cubic foot.
- These days, concrete isn’t just sand, stone, cement, and water. It’s a high-tech material that must be mixed correctly to ensure correct color and durability. You must also be able to accommodate for air temperature, humidity, and wind speed.
Concrete Perfection Takes Skill and Tools
Stamped concrete, however, adds even more complexity. The stamps must be lined up and fitted properly with one another. If the pattern is poorly placed, the end result will look like an amateur job. Plus, you only get one chance to get it right; there’s no going back and starting again.
The intricacy of the pattern and texture selected can add to the challenge. Popular types of stamped concrete patterns include slate, flagstone, fieldstone, brick, cobblestone and wood. There are also seamless stamps that provide texture but without joint patterns.
To create these patterns and texture requires specific tools. These can cost thousands of dollars to buy or hundreds to rent and are another reason stamped concrete is not a DIY project.
Getting Creative with Stamped Concrete Color
Stamped concrete projects often involve adding one or more colors. You can opt for one even color or multiple colors that are applied to mimic the look of marble or granite. There are different ways that contractors typically apply color to concrete:
- Integral color: The color is mixed into the concrete at the plant to provide a uniform color that extends throughout the finished concrete. Accidental chipping or scratching won’t reveal any uncolored concrete.
- Dry-shake color hardeners: Hardeners are cast onto the fresh cement and then float up to the surface. The result produces brighter hues and is available in a broad range of color options.
- Powdered or liquid release agents: These products help prevent the stamping mats from sticking to the concrete and spoiling the texture. They can be used in combination with integral or dry-shake color to create an antique effect.
- Stains: Stains react chemically with the concrete to create a mottled effect that gives stamped work a realistic look.
Curing and Sealing Concrete
The job doesn’t end after the concrete is poured and stamped. The driveway must then be cured and sealed correctly. These steps can be just as tricky as the initial steps and are critical to the driveway’s final appearance and durability. That’s because concrete shrinks as it dries, and the top portion dries faster than the bottom. When installing cement in direct sun and warm weather, precautions must be taken to keep the mixture at the right temperature. Then, after it is poured, the top layer of the cement must be kept moist while the bottom cures. Contractors have several ways to accomplish this, including periodically misting the concrete with water, placing wet burlap on top, or applying chemicals to slow the evaporation.
After the driveway is completely dry, an acrylic sealer is applied to give the concrete protection from UV rays and a high-gloss finish.
The Concrete Bottom Line
Basic stamped and stained concrete, with one pattern and one color, ranges between $8 and $12 per square foot. Higher-end projects using multiple patterns and colors and/or scored designs can run $18 or more.
At Crescent Homes Maui we are experts at stamped and colored concrete. Our skilled workers are all on staff and have years of experience in doing this important craft. If you’re ready to take your island home to the next level call Crescent Homes today to learn more about our stamped concrete services.