Stamped concrete is increasingly the material of choice for many home design projects. Stamped concrete patios are designed to look like flagstone, Spanish tile, or quarry stone. Other stamped concrete patterns are used as kitchen counters, beautiful ceramic tile façades on the wall, and a fireplace hearth. This technique is not new, and has been so well refined, that you've likely walked past it, or over it, and assumed it was real quarry stone or fired tile.
The New and Refined Uses of an Old Favorite
Don't think of bland gray concretethat efficient, sturdy material people use when they want something that is strong, lasts long, is inexpensive and is easy to work with. Or, think about concrete in the hands of an artist. The most basic concrete is small bits of stone bonded together. When these bits are at their smallest, and various pigments and lacquers are applied, stamped concrete can become slate, ceramic tile, cobblestone, marble, and more. The options are endless. When using stamped concrete it is also possible to mix patterns and colors, introduce edges, centerpieces, and band work. The design is only by limited your imagination.
Pattern Stamped Concrete, Stenciled Concrete, and Acid Stained Concrete
The most common type of stamped concrete is pattern-stamped. This basically involves "stamping" patterns into freshly placed concrete and applying color, as well as any weather-treatment, stain or lacquer needed. Stenciled concrete is similar in that a stamp is used, only rather than a full-sized "stamp," a stenciled sheet is used. This process is less expensive but also less reliable. While color is often applied to the top of the concrete after it is set and stamped, another process, acid staining, is an interesting one to consider.
Acid stained concrete is a simple staining process that can be used even when you are not using stamped concrete. Acid stained concrete mixes chemicals into the concrete which causes a reaction with minerals that are already present to create various colors. Because the color is then mixed in according to the mineral deposits in the concrete, it creates a mottled look that is almost identical to natural marble. These colors are natural colors, earth tones like the browns, reds and greens you see in classic architecture. This coloration can create a beautiful, natural look to any walkway, entranceway, or even your kitchen or bathroom.
Stamped concrete offers terrific options in interior design. You'll often find concrete countertops that look as beautiful as any ceramic tile or granite countertop around. But like any other trade that requires some artistry, it is important to find the right company for the job. Choose a contractor or concrete company that has specialized in this stamping technique. Look at their samples in shop, but also at some of their jobs on site. See how it blends in with the surroundings to see what the right choices are for you. But with a good company, and a bit of imagination, stamped concrete will offer you an unlimited number of colors, textures and designs to work from.