Questions About Decorative Concrete
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Cost varies depending on many factors. These include: location, accessibility for a concrete truck, square footage, layout and slope of the yard, fencing, irrigation, the need for steps or stairs, etc. To get an estimate of what your particular job may cost, please contact a few contractors from our Concrete Contractor List. If you prefer to show the contractors some images you like, refer to our Photo Galleries. There are hundreds of images of our contractors’ projects.
Most contractors are happy to provide free estimates. See our list of preferred contractors to view their websites and get their contact information.
The main reasons for the cost difference are additional labor, materials, and experience. The smallest decorative concrete job takes a minimum of 2 days to complete due to the timing of the various steps involved. Contrast this with regular concrete, which can be formed, placed, finished, and sealed in one day. The special tools and materials needed for decorative concrete also contribute to the cost, as does the experience of the installers. To see how decorative concrete is done, check out our decorative concrete processes:
Yes, they can. There are specialized products, which can be applied thinly over existing concrete. These materials are called Concrete Overlays, and they resemble the look of full-depth stamped or stenciled concrete. See our photo gallery on Concrete overlays and resurfacing.
Decorative concrete has several advantages over the other options. First off is flexibility of design. The pattern, shape, and color options with concrete are virtually unlimited. Unlike pavers, you shouldn’t need to use herbicide to kill weeds growing up through your concrete patio. Also, you don’t have to worry about differential settling of individual pavers during freeze/thaw cycles, or when animals and insects burrow under your patio. Unlike wood decking, concrete presents no splinters or yearly re-staining, and concrete is more durable than wood. To top it off, concrete is usually the least expensive!
The shape doesn’t usually affect the price. Most contractors charge the same for a curved edge and rounded corners as they do for straight edges and square corners. However, there are some exceptions.
Contractors usually charge a bit more to add a border. Cost varies with complexity.
Yes. The main reason is because the faces of the steps need to be finished as well as the tops. This takes extra time, skill, and materials. An elevated patio presents the same situation: the exposed edges all need to be finished.
Contractors often offer design ideas or help with layout, color, and pattern decisions. They are also perfectly capable of installations based upon professionally drawn landscape plans.
Essentially, they are the same. All the same materials are used, and they are both done while the concrete is still soft. The only real difference is that with stenciled concrete, you get realistic looking gray “mortar joints” between the “stones”, whereas with stamped concrete the joint is whatever color was used for the antiqued highlights. In some cases, stenciled concrete may also be a bit flatter in profile and more slip resistant. Stamped and stenciled concrete usually cost the same unless the job has some special feature which would make one option less expensive. Please view this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFLQFfV2Lzs of the two processes for further explanation.
Not usually. The only time the pattern affects pricing is if the contractor has to special order a set of stamps or a roll of stencil that he doesn’t already have access to. Depending upon the job, sometimes a texture skin finish (has a stone-like texture, but no discernable pattern) is less expensive than pattern stamping. To view more than 85 patterns of concrete stamps and stencils available from The Concrete Store, visit our store.
Stamped concrete is normally 4 inches thick, the same as a regular concrete driveway or sidewalk.
Your contractor can usually help with that. He has probably seen many different color combinations and knows how they interact. However, a good rule of thumb is to try picking colors that look natural. It is sometimes best to determine the pattern first and then choose colors, which complement that pattern. For instance, you would probably not want a flagstone pattern in a brick red color. It wouldn’t look natural unless you have a lot of natural red stone in your locale.
An outdoor display area containing many styles, colors, and patterns can be seen at The Concrete Store located behind Sagamore Ready Mix 9170 E. 131st Street, Fishers, IN 46038.
A vast array of coloring products and techniques allow your contractor to achieve countless different looks. Choosing colors for your project is usually as easy as picking from color charts, which can be provided at the time of the on-site visit. Please be aware that online color charts are not very accurate due to the differences in individual computer monitors. However, you may view online color charts by going to our Buy Supplies page.
There are colors available to match or complement virtually any décor.
Decorative concrete usually holds up better than regular concrete because of the maintenance steps taken. When someone spends the extra money on decorative concrete, they typically want it to remain attractive. Therefore, they keep it sealed, which prolongs its life span.
A periodic washing and re-sealing with clear sealer is all that is required to keep your concrete looking new. This is easily done by the owner or someone they hire. The frequency of re-sealing is on an as-needed basis. It all depends upon traffic, weathering, and the amount of direct sunlight to which the sealer is exposed. A general rule of thumb is to re-seal about every third year. See the articles entitled “Should I Reseal My Concrete” or “Acrylic vs Penetrating Sealer”.
You don’t necessarily have to re-seal, but it prolongs the life of the concrete and keeps the color from looking “washed out”. See above for more information on sealing.
If properly installed, decorative concrete is not unusually slippery. Proper texturing and use of skid-resistant additives in the sealer make even wet concrete slip-resistant. The most common cause for slippery stamped concrete is over-sealing it. See the article entitled “Slip-Resistant Stamped Concrete”.
The pigments used are colorfast. However, they can begin to appear faded or washed-out if not properly maintained. When a neglected surface is correctly re-sealed with a quality clear sealer, the original color is restored.
Decorative concrete is still just concrete. It will do everything that regular concrete will do, including cracking. The contractor should attempt to prevent and control cracking by use of low-slump concrete, a well-compacted subgrade, fiber and rebar in the concrete, and by properly placing expansion and contraction joints. For information on cracks in stamped concrete, see the article entitled “Diagnosing Concrete Cracks”.
There is usually no warranty against cracking. See our article “Diagnosing Concrete Cracks”. Cracks are extremely common and according to the American Concrete Institute (ACI), they should be expected. As a result, no knowledgeable contractor can guarantee against them. He can, however, try to control them using the methods described in the previous question.
There are sometimes ways to hide a crack, but there is no widely accepted way to actually repair a crack in exterior concrete.
Pop-outs or gouges can be patched. Cracks can sometimes be hidden. When stamped or decorative concrete is new and unblemished, it looks beautiful. Unfortunately, if the slab cracks, chips, fades, or discolors, the owner’s eye is drawn like a magnet to the defect until it has been successfully repaired.
Restoring and repairing older stamped concrete can be complicated. Usually the person who is asked to do the repairs has no knowledge of the brand or color of the materials first used on the job. It is often a guessing game when trying to make a seamless repair. Fortunately, experienced contractors can usually find materials that closely resemble those originally used.
The Concrete Store at Sagamore Ready Mix in Fishers, Indiana carries a full line of repair products for stamped & decorative concrete. The staff of experienced former contractors can help you find just the right solution to your decorative concrete problem. For more information on repair and restoration of decorative concrete, please read the articles entitled “Recoloring Stamped Concrete” and “A Cleaner Way to Stamp”.
In central Indiana a minimum 4,000 psi, air-entrained concrete with added fiber is recommended. Rebar or wire mesh can also be used to prevent differential settling.
Because of the new de-icing chemicals being used on Indiana roadways, many experts recommend using at least 4,500 psi concrete with a mid-range water reducer for driveways and city walks that will be exposed to de-icers and plowed snow.
Unless the contractor is lucky enough to have full access for a 20 ton concrete mixer truck, he moves concrete to the backyard by means of wheelbarrows, power buggies, a bobcat, or a concrete pump. The chosen method is dictated by jobsite conditions and budget.
Although the contractor should make every attempt to minimize yard damage, construction is not a “no mess” proposition. Decorative concrete is a very dirty job and occasionally the yard may become somewhat damaged. However, the contractor should always try his best to leave your yard in a presentable condition. This can be accomplished by means of laying a runner of plywood or lumber on which to run his equipment. If possible, landscaping should be done after all other construction has taken place. Read “How to Choose a Contractor” to see what steps he will take to preserve your yard.
Staining requires that the surface be free of anything, which will inhibit stain penetration. Therefore, any sealer, glue, paint, mastic, or anything else on the floor would need to be removed prior to staining. Some contractors do not like to remove floor coverings or coatings, while others are happy to do so. Ask your particular contractor whether or not he performs this function.
Because of temperature issues, Indiana’s climate dictates that exterior decorative concrete is traditionally only placed from sometime around March to mid-December. If conditions allow and certain admixtures are used, there are exceptions. By using freeze resistant concrete mixes, stamped concrete can be placed all year long even in freezing climates.
It all depends upon the size of the job as to whether or not it’s worthwhile for a particular contractor to travel. The IDCN has contractors in many different areas of Indiana, and many of our member contractors are willing to travel out of state.
Every contractor has different terms. He may or may not accept credit cards, or he may require a non-refundable deposit to place your job on his schedule. Most contractors will ask for a certain percentage up front to cover materials. Ask your particular contractor for details.
There is an outdoor showroom located at:
Sagamore Ready Mix, Inc.
9170 E. 131st Street
Fishers, IN 46038
Construction of this display is ongoing so please visit it periodically for more ideas.