Stamping is done in fresh, still-workable concrete
The stamping process was introduced decades ago, and makes concrete resemble other materials such as brick, slate, stone, tile, or even wood. Below is a brief overview of the installation steps involved with stamped concrete.
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Before the job begins, the base color, secondary color, and pattern are chosen. If the base color is to be all the way through the concrete, Integral Color is added to the concrete as it is batched. If the base color is going to be only on the surface, Dry Shake Color Hardener will be applied by the contractor after the concrete has been poured. Dry-shake color hardener is a powdered mixture of pigments, sand, and cement.
Coloring The Concrete
To color the concrete, the dry-shake hardener is tossed onto the slab’s surface and worked in. (It will make the top of the concrete harder than normal by densifying the surface.)
To achieve a secondary color, an antiquing or “highlight” color is chosen. The highlight color is provided by an Antiquing Release Agent. This is a colored, waterproof powder (or liquid) that keeps the stamps from sticking to the concrete during stamping. To make stamped concrete more variegated and realistic looking, it is best to choose an antiquing color that contrasts with the base color chosen for the concrete. For example, you could choose a brick pattern in which the concrete base color is red, and the antiquing color is charcoal.
Concrete stamps are made of polyurethane, a rubber-like material. Molded into the stamps are both a pattern and a texture. Some stamps are molds of a single “stone” (as shown in the photo) whereas others contain multiple “stones”. When placed, the stamps fit together like puzzle pieces.
Placing The Stamps
When the concrete is firm enough, the first stamp is placed on the slab, and others are placed next to it. A worker walks out onto the stamps, which embeds them into the surface of the concrete. In this manner, the man works his way across the slab by picking up the stamps already embedded and re-placing them in the direction he is working. When the entire surface of the concrete has been textured, he removes the stamps from the slab and is finished for that day.
Applying Clear Sealer
The next day after the concrete has hardened sufficiently, contraction joints are sawed into the slab to control random cracking. The excess antiquing release is washed off, and the surface is allowed to dry. Clear sealer is then applied to the concrete in order to protect it and enhance its color. To view a video of the concrete stamping process, simply click here.