Preparing the Concrete
- Concrete stamps are applied after the concrete is poured and leveled with wood or magnesium floats. The steps leading up to pouring the concrete are complex and include the preparation of the soil and ensuring proper drainage. For exterior jobs, be sure you have taken all the necessary environmental factors into consideration, such as having the right kind of concrete for your climate. Sealers are part of most concrete stamping projects and will be applied when the concrete is dry. Read and view tutorials on the step-by-step process.
- Consider a concrete overlay if you have an existing concrete floor, patio or driveway that's damaged. Concrete overlays have been around for awhile, but today the concrete overlays can be mixed with polymers that resist extreme heat and cold variations, as well as salt and sun exposure. If your concrete slab is extremely damaged, an overlay will not solve the problem. A full replacement is recommended in these situations. For interior floors, overlays can include stamping, stencils and decorative stains.
- If you're trying to decide between concrete or hardwood, it may come as a surprise that you can create the look of hardwood floors with stamped concrete. Choose narrow boards or wide-plank rubber stamp mats. The stamps are created from real wood and can be stained in any color. If you like the look of concrete hardwood but are concerned about having cold concrete floors in the winter months, consider installing radiant heat systems, which come in the electric or hydronic (water) forms.
- Use a stamp roller to create a repeating pattern without having to lift the mat and match it with the edges of the previous stamped section. Stamp rollers have a long handle and are covered in a rubber mat pattern, which can be pushed over the wet concrete. Other stamps require significant, evenly distributed pressure with each application. Stamp rolling goes much faster.
- For a porch or driveway, consider a broom finish for a slip-resistant surface. Create waves or straight lines, depending on your preference. Another possibility is a rock-salt finish. Evenly scatter coarse water softener salt across the still-wet cement. Use a roller to press the salt into the concrete. Allow the concrete to dry, and spray the surface with a garden hose to reveal tiny holes created by the salt.