Recently, stamped concrete has become a popular choice for many homeowners because it offers a wide array of options when it comes to concrete pattern and concrete colors. Another factor contributing to its popularity is its price. The cost of stamped or imprinted concrete is often considerably lower than the materials it is a substitute for.
Concrete is the perfect canvas for creating a cost-effective replica of more expensive materials, without giving up a natural, authentic look. When choosing colors and patterns for your stamped cement, make sure they blend with other stone, tile or textured concrete elements at your residence. Even in complex designs with steps and fountains, patterns can be still be pressed into the concrete. Stamped concrete can also be used in conjunction with other decorative concrete elements such as exposed aggregate or acid staining. Popular patterns include running bond brick, hexagonal tile, worn rock or stone.
If you want to go beyond the subtle drama and subdued earth-toned palette of acid staining, consider using water-based stains, which come in a much broader spectrum of hues. Most manufacturers offer dozens of standard colors, including black and white and even metallic tints. Like acid stains, water-based stains (typically a blend of acrylic polymers and pigments) penetrate the concrete to produce permanent color, ranging from translucent to opaque depending on the product.
Both types of stain can be applied to new or old and plain or integrally colored concrete. They are especially effective for revitalizing dull, lackluster surfaces. Because they penetrate the concrete surface, most stains have excellent UV stability and wear resistance, permitting their use on interior or exterior concrete. Applications range from walkways and patios to family room floors and kitchen countertops. They can also be applied to vertical surfaces such as walls or fireplace surrounds.
Like stains for wood, concrete stains are semi-transparent and are intended to enhance rather than disguise the surface. They will not hide cracks, blemishes or other flaws in existing concrete. Nor will they completely mask an underlying color or conceal the texture of the surface. An existing concrete slab with major cracks or spalling is usually not a good candidate for staining because any patchwork is likely to show right through the stain.
Because stains must be able to soak into the concrete to achieve full color saturation, they shouldn’t be applied to surfaces covered by anything that can inhibit stain penetration, such as dirt, grease, glues, coatings, curing membranes and sealers.