If a person has an existing concreted area, or if he wants to pour concrete into an area, he can use a concrete stencil to decorate the resulting slab. A concrete stencil is made up of durable paper and is used the same way other stencils are used — by laying the stencil flat on the concrete surface and then add coloring agents into the open areas of the stencil. The exact technique used may depend on whether the concrete is dry or wet when the stencil is applied. Properly stenciled, concrete can look like brick, tile, or other surfaces.
The technique to using a concrete stencil is basically the same for dry and wet concrete, but special steps will have to be taken for each instance. For wet concrete, once the concrete is laid, smooth and slightly dry, the stencil can be put in place. Then the color is mixed into the exposed areas of the concrete. The area is then allowed to dry. When it is almost dry, the stencil is removed and the concrete allowed to dry completely.
Dry concrete may be a little less labor intensive. For dry concrete, the concreted area will have to be prepared. This means that cracks will have to be filled and the concrete seal will usually have to be removed. Next, the stencil can be placed on the surface and the color placed on the area. Once the color sets, the stencil can be removed, revealing the pattern.
When using a concrete stencil to create a pattern on wet concrete, the “mortar” of the design is often the concrete color. In order to change that color, a person will have to color the concrete before the stencil is applied. Then, after the stencil is applied, he can tint the “brick” or “tile” patterns in the desired color. To change the mortar color of dry concrete, a person may have to lay color over the concrete before the stencil is applied. Then the person can apply the concrete stencil and color the “brick” or “tile.”
Whatever style he chooses, a person will usually have to seal the concrete when he is finished. Sealing the concrete helps to protect it from moisture and other substances. Many times, a concrete surface may have to cure for several days before it can be sealed. It is also important to ensure that a person properly sweeps away any debris and that he cuts expansion joints into the concrete. Expansion joints help to prevent concrete from cracking when it expands and contracts in response to heat or cold.