Concrete Stamping Techniques
Decorative concrete is an economical and attractive paving option
By Sylvia Cochran
Transform your smooth slab of freshly poured driveway concrete into a surface that looks a lot like you had used individual bricks, tiles or even cobblestones. Concrete stamping techniques beautify an otherwise bland looking surface. At the same time, this method can save you a lot of money you would otherwise have spent on materials and labor. The quality of the finished surface depends in large part on proper surface prep work and skillful execution of each step.
Use the Right Concrete Mix and Depth
Concrete is a mix of cement, gravel, sand and water. The look of the finished product depends in large part on the gravel and the amount of water used. Coarse gravel may leave lumpy protrusions on the surface of the drying concrete, which makes concrete stamping techniques difficult to apply. Watery concrete slows down surface readiness, while an overly dry mix results in varying stamping heights. Pour the concrete to a depth of 4 inches, if you plan on stamping a walkway and 6 inches for a driveway.
Pick Your Stamps
You have a plethora of patterns to choose from. Make sure that the size of the design harmonizes with the size of the surface. An overly big design may not offer an aesthetically pleasing look on a small surface. The stamps you pick come in the form of mats, the underside of which resembles the desired surface. An alternative to the mats is rolling stampers you move forward over the concrete much as you would push an aerator across a lawn. Expert concrete workers may use a number of designs to create intricate patterns. Be sure to plan out your design ahead of time, since you need to work quickly after the concrete is poured.
Colors Aid the Illusion
The stamp is only one feature of the process that makes concrete stamping techniques so popular; the other aspect deals with the coloring. Choose a color that complements the look the stamps create. For example, if you decide to make your walkway look as though it consisted of individual bricks, choose a red tone that closely resembles the color of brick. You may apply this color to the poured cement as a dry-shake finish. Conclude the process with a sealant that protects the surface.
Employ an Expert
Concrete projects are more difficult -- and more permanent -- than other home improvement jobs. Interview concrete contractors, who specialize in the application of concrete stamping techniques; ask to see samples of their work and also request references of other jobs done previously. This will give you a good idea of the looks the contractor is able to achieve.
About the Author
Sylvia Cochran is a regular contributor to DexKnows, specializing in home and garden.
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