Stamped concrete, often called textured or imprinted concrete, is concrete that replicates stones such as slate and flagstone, tile, brick and even wood. Ideal for beautifying pool decks, driveways, entries, courtyards, and patios, stamped concrete is the perfect outdoor paving choice.
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.
Staining imparts a luxurious richness that can’t be achieved by any other coloring medium. Rather than produce a solid, opaque effect like paint, stains permeate the concrete to infuse it with luminous, translucent tones that vary depending on the surface they are applied to and the application techniques used. The results can mimic everything from polished marble to tanned leather to natural stone or even stained wood.
Stains for concrete come in two general categories: acid-based chemical stains and water-based acrylics. Most acid stains are a mixture of water, hydrochloric acid and acid-soluble metallic salts. They work by penetrating the surface and reacting chemically with the hydrated lime (calcium hydroxide) in the concrete. The acid in the stain lightly etches the surface, allowing the metallic salts to penetrate more easily. Once the stain reacts, it becomes a permanent part of the concrete and won’t fade, chip off or peel away. The palette for acid-etch staining is generally limited to earthy tones, such as tans, browns, terra cottas and soft blue-greens.
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.
Adding to the realism of stamped concrete is a broad range of integral and surface-applied coloring options that permit contractors to bring stamp patterns to life and precisely replicate the beauty of the materials they mimic.
Choosing a Color Scheme for Stamped Concrete
Stamped concrete colors are often selected to blend with other architectural elements of the home or the natural surroundings.
For outdoor pavements, you’ll generally want to stick with subtle earthtone shades. To achieve subtle tonal variations or “antiquing” effects, you can apply one or more accent colors of hardener or use acid stains or tinted release agents. For projects where you want a bolder, more vivid color scheme, try layering dyes or water-based stains, which are available in a broader array of vibrant color tones, such as red and cobalt blue.
Stamped concrete we often use integral or dry-shake color in conjunction with surface-applied coloring mediums. This layering of color is what gives stamped concrete such natural-looking color variations, such as you would see in real stone. The options include:
- Tinted liquid release agents
- Acid-based chemical stains
- Water-based acrylic stains
- Concrete dyes