Stamped concrete is an increasingly popular design choice for sidewalks, patios, carports, and even interior flooring.
It is exactly what it sounds like: concrete that is stamped with a pattern either resembling another material like wood or natural stone, or a random pattern to add some aesthetically pleasing design.
There are pros and cons regarding the use of stamped concrete- including its hardiness and longevity.
We’ll go through all of them so that you can decide if stamped concrete is right for your home or a large-scale project.
Stamped Concrete Pros
There are many reasons you would want to use stamped concrete instead of similar material or even replicate the look of other materials instead of using the real thing.
- It is easy to maintain, especially if you’ve used a sealant.
- It adds curb appeal and thus resale value to your home
- It’s highly customizable. You can stamp it with pretty much any design meaning you have near limitless patterns and many colors to choose from.
- Extremely durable (just like any concrete) and long-lasting
- More slip-resistant than smooth concrete and even more slip-resistant if you add a non-skid additive to the mix.
- Significantly more affordable than natural stone, brick, or other pavers. You don’t even have to give those other options up. For example, you can even stamp concrete with a brick pattern to give it the same appearance.
Stamped Concrete Cons
There’s a lot to like about stamped concrete but here are some things to consider before installing it:
- Concrete may be easy to pour on your own but the patterning is difficult and time-consuming to do yourself.
- Like any concrete, extreme weather can damage it and cause minor cracks. Freezing and thawing can be especially damaging.
- Because of the patterns, the damage is extra difficult to repair- it can be hard to make the repairs look seamless.
- It’s not ideal for high-traffic areas like driveways. A con as this is where many people think to use concrete. However, it works well just about anywhere else, including inside the home.
Caring for Stamped Concrete
Caring for stamped concrete isn’t difficult, which makes it a great material to use. Like any surface, you’ll want to prevent dirt buildup and keep it looking fresh. For regular cleaning, it’s OK to use a garden hose and some soap.
- Wet the surface with your hose on high pressure
- Use a broom to get some scrubbing action and push the liquid soap around the surface
If you have dirt or stains built up, stamped concrete will hold up fine to high-pressure cleaning.
When using a pressure washer, try not to use it on the highest setting as there’s a chance it could damage or remove your sealer. Using it on the most elevated pressure briefly may be alright but first, see if you can remove dirt on a lower setting.
How to Prevent Cracks in Stamped Concrete
To prevent your stamped concrete cracking, weather damage, and UV damage, you should always finish installing your stamped concrete with a sealer.
Sealers can also block stains from oil and other chemicals. However, you should always try to clean these as they happen to prevent noticeable damage. They also make the concrete look better, the color will appear richer with a sealer, and there will be a slight gloss to it.
Applying Sealer to Stamped Concrete
Don’t apply the sealer immediately. You should wait a few weeks, not days, to add a sealer to a newly poured concrete surface.
Make sure the concrete is totally dry before application. If it rained on your concrete, then wait a total of 24 hours. You can’t use a sealer on wet or even damp surfaces as it won’t penetrate completely. You can use a leaf blower to help dry a wet surface.
If you have a complex pattern with lots of relief, check those areas for moisture. Water can accumulate under the raised portions of your design.
Apply the sealer using a roller, preferably in 2ft x 4ft sections. You can also add an anti-slip additive directly to the sealer.
You could also apply it with a low-pressure sprayer, but this may not work as evenly into all stamped concrete. If you have a deep pattern, consider the roller to make sure you push the sealer into every crevice.
When sealing stamped or other textured surfaces, you can consider combining using a sprayer followed by the roller. This will help to keep the sealer from settling in low spots and prevent uneven distribution.
If you haven’t done this before, it may be tempting to use a lot of sealer at once. Don’t do that because applying too thick a coat can mean it will pool up rather than penetrate. It should go on in thin sheets.
Here are some frequently asked questions people usually have about installing stamped concrete.
How Many Coats of Sealer Should I Use on Stamped Concrete?
Use one or two THIN coats on your concrete during the initial sealing process.
How Often Should I Reseal My Stamped Concrete Surface?
Reseal stamped concrete every 2-3 years for maximum protection. This can change depending on weather conditions, especially if you live in a region with extreme temperature changes between seasons, and below-freezing temperatures.
How Do You Keep Stamped Concrete From Cracking?
We’ve gone over sealant, but another way to prevent damage is by keeping the concrete damp before and after installation.
Keep your stamped concrete damp for five to seven days after pouring to ensure that the concrete sets entirely. You can do this with a hose and then cover the concrete.
Stamped concrete is beautiful, cost-effective, and easy to maintain. Part of the easy maintenance depends on the correct installation.
If you’ve poured correctly, used a sealer, and cleaned it regularly, your stamped concrete should look beautiful for years to come.