With stamped concrete floors, you can get the look of a more delicate or expensive material while gaining the durability and affordability of concrete. Stamped concrete floors
are especially suitable for outdoor areas that will see a lot of wear and tear due to weather and traffic, as stamped or colored concrete is extremely durable and requires only moderate care to stay looking as fresh and vibrant as the day you installed it. If you crave a driveway, deck, porch, or patio area that has the look of slate, stone, wood, brick, or tile, but need to choose a tough material that can stand up to rough usage through all four seasons, stamped concrete may be the answer.
Planning Your Pattern
The key to getting the look you want from your stamped concrete floors is knowing when and where to stamp your design tool. It is crucial to plan your stamping tool layout before you start to mix or pour your concrete so that when the concrete is ready, you will be too. Take some time to lay out your stamps on the area at the very start of your installation day to check for any unexpected spacing surprises. Once you know where you’ll need to put your stamps, you can do the stamping itself quickly, which means you’re more likely to complete the job before your concrete is too stiff to take the impression.
The Right Concrete Slump
The slump of your concrete is the ratio of water to materials, and determines how wet your concrete will be. To get evenly stamped concrete floors, you’ll need your concrete to be soft enough to impress easily, but hard enough to keep the design. If your concrete is too wet to start with you will need to wait for the water to evaporate somewhat before you can start stamping, but if your concrete is too hard to start with you will have a lot of trouble creating stamps of equal depth as you work. If you aren’t experienced with concrete, or aren’t sure what the right level of water is for your project, opt for a wetter slump. You can always let the bleedwater evaporate until your concrete is the right texture for your stamping tool, but if you start out with concrete that is too dry there will be no way to correct the error. A wetter slump will lengthen the installation process, but it won’t show in your final results.
Maintaining Stamped Concrete Floors
A simple maintenance regimen is the key to keeping your stamped concrete looking great. If you follow a regular resealing schedule, your stamped concrete floors can last for decades before showing their age. Plan to reseal your concrete every two or three years to keep it looking fresh. Between resealing, show off your concrete’s design by cleaning it thoroughly. If oil or grease spills on your concrete, absorb the liquid with a dry, powdered substance. Cornmeal, kitty litter, or Portland cement are all great choices for the job. If the grease has already settled, you can blast away spot stains by applying a fine spray mist of water and vinegar. Heavy build up of dirt or oil can damage your concrete over time, so in addition to occasionally hosing down the concrete yourself with soap and water, it is a good idea to power-wash your concrete before you reseal. This will prevent stains from getting trapped in the porous concrete underneath the sealant.