The goal of stamped concrete is to imitate other materials such as stone, brick, tile, wood, etc. There are structural as well as economical reasons for using concrete instead of the real thing.
It can easily be mistaken for the real thing by most people, but is much more economical. The strength and durability is unmatched by any other paving materials.
|Pressing random stone stamp mats into concrete. Concrete is covered with release powder to keep it from sticking to mats.||After it hardens, the powder is washed off, a sealcoat is applied, and this is what you get when it's done!|
While concrete is still in its plastic state (wet), large rubber mats or stamps are pressed into the surface. When the stamps are pulled up, a texture and/or pattern is left. Color is usually added to the surface prior to stamping or it can be added to the concrete mix itself. A release powder is broadcast accross the surface to keep the stamps from sticking to the concrete. The release often helps to further enhance the appearance by adding an antique effect.
There are two types of release agent, liquid and powder. Powder is not the most user friendly. It's messy, requires wearing a mask, relatively expensive, and must be washed off. Liquid release is much cleaner, cheaper because a little goes a long way, and does not need to washed off.
So why doesn't everyone just use liquid? Because the two tone antiquing effect that powder produces is difficult and nearly impossible to duplicate with a liquid release.
The end result of stamping can be a simple textured slab that looks like one big piece of stone or slate. It can also be very ornate by combining different patterns and colors and creating borders, bands, and accent designs. This type of finish is fitting for many surfaces including patios, porches, driveways, sidewalks, pool decks, etc. It can also be used for vertical applications to create the look of stone or brick walls.
The biggest attraction of stamping concrete is the versatility. There are many textures, patterns, and colors that are readily available which makes design opportunites almost endless. You can also incorporate the use of stains and dyes to further customize the appearance of concrete.
Other benifits of concrete stamping include:
The popularity of stamped concrete has flourished in the past 20 years or so, but you might be surprised to know that the technique has been around since the middle of the last century. The first stamping tools were invented by a man named Brad Bowman, but were limited to basic tile and brick patterns. Customers today can choose from a multitude of textures, patterns, and colors. And many stamping tools are molded from real materials to duplicate thier textures down to the finest detail.
Because of the beauty, versatility, durability, and cost of stamped concrete, it's popularity has surpassed any of the traditional paving materials.
A seamless stamp or texture skin is a mat that gets pressed into the concete, but has no pattern. The process is similar to patterned stamping, although it is somewhat easier since the mats doen't have to be perfectly aligned. The result is a concrete slab that looks like one big piece of stone or slate.
It may not be quite as decorative as patterned stamping, but it does have its advantages. Seamless stamping is generally cheaper due to decreased difficulty and faster finishing. There is no pattern to interrupt when placing control joints. A seamless stamp finish is more nuetral than pattern stamps.
|Seamless,textured concrete patio. Notice the control joints don't interrupt any pattern.||Up close view of seamless stamp with heavy stone or old granite texture.|
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