Stamped concrete is a type of decorative paving that can be used for driveways, walkways, or other hard exterior purposes. It is possible to use this technique to make many different types of items, such as tables, and it is also possible to use concrete for indoor flooring, but the most common usage is outdoors. The concrete itself is poured and then stamped or otherwise imprinted with designs to give the appearance of bricks, stones, or other more complex structures. Often, a coloring process is also used to heighten the effect. While some people elect to do this kind of work by themselves, it is highly advisable to hire a professional if a person has little experience working with concrete.
Concrete is a durable material that is also relatively inexpensive when compared with the materials that stamped concrete is meant to mimic. When stamped concrete is installed correctly, it is often thought to rival the appearance of other forms of paving. This type of paving can last for many years without fading if properly cared for. Sometimes, the design must be touched up after a number of years.
Using different stamps and colors, stamped concrete can be made to mimic brick, wood, or a number of other conventional paving materials. Usually, special stamps made for concrete are used to create the designs. Custom stamps can be made for special projects if an acceptable stamp cannot be found.
The process for making stamped concrete usually starts with pouring the concrete in a prepared area. Then if the concrete is not already colored, an appropriate color is added to the poured concrete. A release agent is then applied to the concrete so that the stamps can be removed when the concrete is dry. Finally, the stamps are put into place, and the paved area must sit until dry, at which point the stamps are removed. Usually, the area must be cleaned up in some manner before it achieves a professional appearance.
There are a number of variations on this basic process that can be used to achieve different effects, such as using an accent color to create the appearance of grout. Books on stamped concrete can provide simple directions for achieving a variety of different effects. It is important to be cautious and to read any directions fully before starting a paving project, as mistakes can be messy and highly frustrating. Given that most people are not natural experts at working with concrete, it is usually advisable to seek professional help with this type of project.