Is Stamped Concrete Slippery?

There are many people under the impression that stamped concrete is slippery. I have slipped on a few decorative concrete slabs myself, but it wasn’t the concrete that was slick: it was the sealer.

Stamped concrete is not much different from regular concrete when it comes to slip-resistance. The difference is in the sealer used. Outdoor decorative concrete is typically sealed with a clear acrylic top coat to repel moisture and enhance the concrete’s color. The sealer creates a plastic-like film when it dries. Since the sealer doesn’t readily absorb moisture, water pools on top. If you’ve ever seen children playing on a Slip-n-Slide, you know exactly what can happen with water atop plastic. It becomes as slippery as ice! Water atop acrylic sealer is no different, especially if the sealer is applied too thickly.

So what can a contractor do to insure against slippery stamped concrete? There are several solutions. The first is to leave a more “open” surface to stamp. Instead of using a fresno or hand trowel to finish the slab in preparation for stamping, he could use only a float. While many stampers prefer a very smooth finish to give them a ”fresh canvas” for texturing, trowelling a slab makes it overly slick. Simply floating the concrete instead leaves a sandier finish which aids with slip resistance. As a bonus, it can also make the texture look more realistic, especially on stone or brick patterns (see photo below).