When you think of landscaping for your yard, your thoughts likely turn to grass, flowers and bushes. You might even think of carefully-arranged rocks, fancy flower pots, and even raised flower beds. But your hard surfacing like your driveway, pathways and patios shouldn’t be neglected either. And when you’re reading to upgrade any of these, stamped concrete is a great material to choose.
Why Choose Stamped Concrete
There are a lot of advantages to choosing stamped concrete for your outdoor surfaces. In fact, it can even be used indoors – anywhere that you can use concrete, such as a basement rec room floor, stamped concrete offers an improved look.
This material offers all the benefits of any concrete – it’s durable, easy to maintain, and long-lasting. It will hold up to the weather and to regular traffic, both foot traffic and vehicular.
Not only is it practical, though, it’s also beautiful. Stamped concrete imitates the look of other fine materials that are usually more expensive and often more fragile. You can choose a design like cobblestone, hewn stone, brick, or stone tiles. You can even have a wood plank design that looks realistic right down to the grain!
Stamped concrete isn’t an image painted on the surface, though; it’s a design that’s imprinted into the concrete. That means it has real depth and texture to it. In fact, it easily fools most people unless they are looking for it!
Price is another advantage. You can install this decorative product for prices that beat most other materials. Obviously, it’s a bit more expensive than plain concrete because of the extra work involved in making it decorative. But it comes in under the natural stone or other surface it’s designed to look like while providing benefits you can only get with concrete.
How Stamped Concrete Is Created
The process of stamping concrete is only a few decades old. New patterns are added all the time to make the product even more appealing.
The process starts with regular concrete. A base color is added to it. Some contractors do this while the concrete is mixed, although it can also be added once the concrete is poured. In the latter, there is a more consistent coloring throughout the concrete’s surface.
While the concrete is still wet, stamps in your chosen pattern are used to imprint a design into the surface. That means you get a real, “3D” surface. It has real lines where the “bricks” or “tiles” come together.
Once the stamping is done, secondary colors are added to highlight joints or grout.
From there, the concrete dries and you have a beautiful new surface! It just needs to be resealed every two to three years. And since it’s concrete, it’s going to last for decades with just this simple care.
Some Great Stamped Concrete Designs
Dozens of designs and a huge range of colors help make stamped concrete a highly-versatile material. You can match your architecture, the “feel” of your neighborhood, and your own taste when you pick your pattern!
Let’s have a look at some of the most popular options.
Surprised? Many people are when they see samples of stamped concrete that looks just like wood planks, even down to the grain. But it’s real and is a beautiful option. It goes great in many areas. You could have a rustic-looking garden path, a fine porch, or even a swimming pool deck that looks like natural wood!
Another great natural look is that of hewn stone. A path of stones that looks as if a crew hand-carved them at the quarry can provide a quaint rustic sense.
Hewn stone has an uneven surface and irregular edges because it’s all done by hand. But that can all be imitated – and at a much better price – with stamped concrete patterns. You’ll love walking through your garden on this charming surface!
A classic building material for many years, brick speaks of sturdiness and dependability. While it’s not as common as a building material now, the appearance is often imitated with finishing elements.
In the same way, you can have the appearance of brick for your driveway or walkways leading to your house. Whether you want it in red or another color, it looks great. With stamped concrete, you can achieve the look that will go great with the front of your house!
Before asphalt or concrete streets, cobblestone was commonly used for streets. It’s a sturdy material that held up under horse’s hooves as well as with cars.
In some parts of Europe, elaborate fan-shaped patterns were often created by the artisans who laid the stone. Simpler, stacked-line patterns were also used and were common in colonial America.
If you live in a historical area or just want your driveway to stand out, a cobblestone pattern in stamped concrete is the way to go. Real cobblestone is hard to get and expensive, but you can have the same great appearance. And you won’t have to worry about resetting stones that work loose!
Stacked Bond, Running Bond, and Keystone
Stacked and running bond and keystone are more modern looks that may suit your design goals. Each consists of square blocks.
Stacked bond arranges the blocks in staggered rows. Each row is offset from the previous one by a half. This is the way we commonly see buildings erected, or how we may have built LEGOs as children. The staggering creates more stability when building upright.
Running bond uses the same types of smaller tile but they’re not staggered. Instead, the joints run in straight lines. While this might not work for constructing a building, it’s a clean, crisp look for a path or driveway.
Keystone is a large tile of perhaps 9 inches or a foot square. They still have a textured surface and joints between them. It’s wonderful for a patio but can also look great as a pool deck or porch, or anywhere you’d like!
Stamped concrete can offer a significant upgrade to the appearance of your patio, walkways, and even your driveway. It’s also durable, economical, and easy to maintain. You’ll quickly become the envy of the neighborhood once your new surface is installed!
About the author
Bill Michaels works for Patterned Concrete. Since 1972, they’ve been a leader in the stamped concrete industry. From its roots in the Toronto area, it’s grown to have franchises across North America. If you’re a contractor interested in becoming part of our family, get in touch through our website!