Stamped concrete is one of the most beautiful and unique ways that you can add flair and pizzazz to your concrete flooring. Most of the time, stamping concrete is best done by professionals.
However, if you are a confident DIY’er who loves to tackle new projects and has the right tools, you, too, can learn how to create beautiful masterpieces by stamping your concrete. For pouring a slab, I have a guide here.
Because this procedure is so complicated and uses so many different steps to create the end result, this article is merely a brief overview of how to stamp concrete to produce a lovely design.
Laying the concrete and coloring it
First, you must lay the concrete. Make sure that your concrete is at least four inches thick. Next, you will color the concrete.
For that, you can apply color hardener powder to the concrete surface and it will penetrate the top one-eighth inch of concrete and color it very well. You have to sprinkle the color hardener powder on top of your slab after you have poured and screeded it.
If you have a big slab, throw it on the surface after you have screeded a little distance. Then when you finish the surface it will mix with the surface cream and sink in. Now that you’re done the first round with the color, do a second one and finish and float the trowel marks off the surface
Once you’re happy with the color of the slab, move to next step.
Apply color release agent
Next, you should apply the color release agent. This agent is designed to prevent the stamping template or mat from sticking to the concrete and the coloring powder.
In addition to broadcasting the powder over the surface of the concrete, you will also want to brush the powder over the stamping mats, too. You will most likely need about 3.5 pounds of the agent per hundred feet of concrete to be stamped.
Follow the manufacturer label on how to use the release agent as there might be small variations. Usually, you just use enough to cover the surface. If it’s liquid you’re using, don’t pour it on the surface but spray it with a pump sprayer.
It’s best if you use the release agent (be it powder or liquid) as you go with the stamping, not doing it too far ahead. Something like 2 rows should be good at a time.
Stamping the patterns into the concrete
Next, you will texture the concrete by pressing the stamp mats into the concrete evenly and uniformly. It is very important, even vital, to continue working quickly once you have begun the texturing process.
If you have edges on your slab, you should have the forms removed and start with them. After you’re done with them, it’s time to move to the flat surface.
You should have enough stamps to cover at least 2 rows of your slab. Once you’re done with the second, move the first row to the third, etc. You can lay them out on the ground before you start to move them on the concrete in the correct order.
Lay the stamps/mats down carefully and tamp them down into the concrete at the beginning. You should not need to tamp hard at the start. If you do, you might have waited too long.
You should tamp firmly enough to get the mat flush with the wet concrete’s surface; however, be careful to not overtamp. If you have help, it would be good if one tamps when the other one moves the stamps.
Washing the stamped concrete
After 24 or 48 hours have passed since the texturing and the concrete has now set initially, you will want to take a brush and soap water and wash the release agent off. You don’t have to get all of it off straight away, over half is enough.
If you use pressure washer you must be really careful. It’s usually not good idea to wash fresh concrete with pressure washer as it can weaken the slab as it’s still in the process of curing.
As you spray gently, vary the angle at which the water hits the surface, and try to retain some of the agents in the crevices, grout lines, and some of the deep indentations in the stamp pattern. If you can do this, it will give a more natural colored look to the concrete.
Using concrete sealing on the slab
The final step is to seal your stamped concrete. Simply roll it on with a roller paintbrush after the concrete has set and is very dry. You can also use a pump sprayer.
If you can apply two coats of the sealant, with the two separate coats laid perpendicularly to each other, you will be able to get a good sealing with no brush or roller lines. Once dried, your concrete is now ready for use.
If the process of sealing is unknown to you, there is bit more about it following.
How to apply concrete sealer on your new stamped concrete
Concrete may be one of the most durable materials out there, but it does not last forever. It can last longer if protected from wear and tear. Now, our stamped concrete slab is fresh and you did some hard work there, it’s best if we use a little time and protect it from nature.
A concrete sealer enhances the beauty of stamped concrete while protecting it from water damage, dirt, grime, grease and other foreign matters.
Materials Needed are some eye and breathing protection and you can use the aforementioned pump sprayer to apply the coat or traditional paint roller that has thin hairs. And concrete sealer of course.
Step 1: Choose the type of sealer for your type of application. If your stamped concrete is outdoors, choose the type that would work best for the location.
Step 2: Choose your concrete sealer. Water-based or exempt solvents concrete sealers are the two major types of concrete sealers that are VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) compliant.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has imposed stricter guidelines on the use of VOCs to seal concrete. VOC non-compliant sealers can have a long-term negative effect on your health and the environment. Make sure that what you’re using is VOC compliant.
Step 3: Wait 24 to 48 hours after installing your stamped concrete before you apply your concrete sealer. Allow time for the concrete to dry and set.
Step 4: Use the pushbroom to clean and dust or debris that may have landed on your new stamped concrete.
Step 5: Use a power washer or water hose to rinse the remaining dust and debris.
Step 6: Allow to dry for a couple of hours.
Step 7: Wear protective gear. Put on your eye goggles, work boots, work gloves, and face mask. Even when you’re using VOC compliant concrete sealer, make sure to observe caution.
Step 8: Pour your water-based sealer inside a hand-held sprayer pump. Keep the sprayer tip low to achieve even application and prevent atomization. Thin multiple coats work best to prevent moisture that may come from below the concrete from getting trapped.
Avoid using a paint roller or trying to make your concrete look shiny because it may affect the breathability of the sealer causing blushing. If you can’t use a pump sprayer, apply thin coats with a roller.
If you experience whitening problems, simply re- emulsifying your concrete sealer using Xylene to let moisture trapped under the sealer escape.
Whitening caused by too many coats of sealer, remove the old coat and reapply correctly with a new coat of sealer.
Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines in applying VOC compliant concrete sealer.
Read more information about the EPA’s National Volatile Organic Compound Emission Standards for Architectural Coatings to get more guidance. Check your local regulations because the law is different from state to state.
Simple 6 steps for maintaining decorative concrete years after
Now with sealing out of the way, decorative concrete maintenance is the most ideal method of ensuring that your investment exists for the long run.
You should do a little research on your sealer. Some last for few years and need to be done again and some last far longer.
There are a hundred and one systems and products on the market and it is best to get in touch with a contact a concrete professional to maintain and clean your colored concrete.
Maintaining decorative concrete that is colored, including acid-stained concrete, stamped concrete, concrete pavers, stained concrete, walkways, and driveways involves these methods:
Step 1: Remove and clean out all residues, paints, stains, and flaking sealers often using a high-pressure washer. More aggressively done cleaning can occur with degreasers or with a heated unit in the case of vehicular traffic or a driveway area.
Step 2: Let the installation dry overnight thoroughly.
Step 3: Re-apply a coating or a sealer according to the original specifications of the manufacturer. You can do this either by sprayer or roller again.
Step 4: If you are not sure what products were originally utilized, sampling on-site needs to be done in order to test the compatibility of the product to the surface. Now, you should save some sort of reminder of the products you use for this.
Step 5: Apply one up to two coats accordingly.
Step 6: Remember that there are some sealers on the market that are slippery and you may need to add an additive that makes your mix into an anti-slip material for more grip.
This article is not intended to provide detailed instruction on the process of stamping concrete and taking care of it. Instead, it is designed to give potential stampers an overview of the process used to create unique and beautiful flooring suitable for many different needs.
Still, that being said, the process is quite simple, but getting a 100 mark for it will take practice. It is good to start small and practice before doing big applications.
If you’re considering this, you’re probably not new to working with concrete. Still, new things might still give some surprises now and then and it’s always good to be prepared.