Decorative Stamped Concrete: Is it right for you?

Why people choose decorative stamped concrete?

decorative stamped concreteDecorative stamped concrete is appealing for many reasons. It is an economical alternative to pavers and natural stone, especially for applications such as patios, driveways, walkways, and pool decks. It also requires less maintenance than those materials because it has no joints where weed growth can occur. Adding to the value of stamped concrete is the material’s longevity. When properly installed and maintained, stamped concrete will last for decades.

From an aesthetic viewpoint, stamped concrete is hard to beat when it comes to the virtually unlimited pattern and color options.

Decorative stamped concrete offers a number of advantages that other paving materials can’t match, particularly when it comes to design versatility. Here, we compare stamped concrete with some of the alternatives.

Asphalt Natural Stone Precast Pavers Stamped Concrete
Available in an array of patterns and colors
With countless color combinations and hundreds of patterns available, stamped concrete offers unlimited design possibilities.
No No Yes Unlimited
Longevity and performance
Like conventional concrete, stamped concrete will provide decades of service when properly installed and maintained, even when exposed to harsh winter weather. Adding steel reinforcement or wire mesh will augment the strength and help to control cracking.
Poor Good Good Excellent
Speed of installation
Unlike stone or precast pavers, stamped concrete can be poured or pumped into place without the need to lift and place individual units. It takes about five days to install a 2,000-square-foot stamped concrete driveway vs. 10 to 12 days to install natural stone or pavers.*
Fast Slow Slow Moderate
Ability to customize
Some manufacturers produce custom stamps that allow you to imprint logos or other one-of-a-kind designs.
No No No Yes
Special maintenance requirements
All of these paving materials, including concrete, will require removal of dirt or stains when necessary by scrubbing or pressure washing.
Annual seal coating Removal of weeds and moss that grow in the joints; refilling joints with sand as needed. Removal of weeds and moss that grow in the joints; refilling joints with sand as needed. Resealing every few years or as needed to protect the surface from stains and maintain color vibrancy.

Does it look fake?

Decorative stamped concrete looks very realistic because most stamping mats are molded from the actual materials they are designed to replicate. To achieve natural-looking color variations, such as you would see in real stone, stamped concrete contractors often use integral or dry-shake color in conjunction with surface-applied coloring mediums. If anything, stamped concrete looks better than the real thing, because you won’t get weed or moss growth in between the joints, and it won’t rot or splinter (if you are mimicking wood planking).

Will it crack, and can it be repaired?

Stamped concrete is one of the most durable and long lasting paving materials available and is highly resistant to cracking when installed correctly. There are some basic steps you can take to minimize cracking and ensure good performance.

Even if your decorative stamped concrete shows signs of minor cracking, the cracks are often hard to detect because they will often blend in with the pattern and joint lines. If the cracks become an eyesore, there are methods you can use to disguise them.

Will the color fade?

Efflorescence, weathering, dirt and traffic can take their toll on the color of stamped concrete. You can minimize any color change by periodically cleaning and resealing the concrete. Even if the color has faded due to years of neglect or lack of maintenance, it can often be restored to its original state by cleaning and resealing.

Can decorative stamped concrete go over my existing concrete?

Existing concrete that’s in good condition can be covered with a stamped overlay, which will give you the same look as conventional stamped concrete. Stamped overlays can be used to upgrade the appearance of plain concrete driveways, patios, walkways, pool decks and even interior floors.

Is it stamped concrete slippery?

Because stamped concrete is a textured surface, it is often more slip resistant than conventional concrete. However, just like natural stone, it can become slippery when wet or if a film-forming sealer has been applied. If stamped concrete will be installed in a high-traffic area, such as an entryway or pool deck, there are a number of things you can do to increase its slip resistance.

Can salt be used on it in the winter?

You should avoid using deicing salts on your decorative stamped concrete, especially during the first winter after the pavement is installed. Using deicers can cause surface damage—primarily scaling and spalling-by forcing the thawing and refreezing of moisture. Products containing ammonium nitrates and ammonium sulphates are especially harmful because they will actually attack the concrete chemically. Rock salt (sodium chloride) or calcium chloride will do less damage, but they can harm vegetation and corrode metal. As an alternative, use sand for traction.

Is stamped concrete expensive?

Stamped concrete can be expensive, depending on the costs for materials and labor in your local area and the complexity of the job. “You get what you pay for,” really holds true for stamped concrete. For your initial outlay, you’ll get a pavement that lasts longer and requires less maintenance than most other paving materials, which can add up to big savings over the pavement’s lifetime. You’ll also add curb appeal and aesthetic value to your home, allowing you to maximize the return on your investment.

How long will stamped concrete last?

Like conventional concrete, your decorative stamped concrete will last for decades when properly installed and maintained, even when exposed to harsh winter weather conditions. In some cases, stamped concrete can be even more durable than standard concrete, especially if a color hardener has been applied to the surface. Most contractors also apply a sealer to stamped concrete to protect it from wear and abrasion and make it easier to maintain.