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Stamped Concrete: Advantages & Disadvantages

by Laura Kingsbury

Stamped concrete is patterned concrete that is often used as an economical alternative to the more expensive brick, tile, stone or slate materials in exterior paths, such as walkways, patios and driveways. It has become an increasing trend as methods have improved, creating a similar appeal to the higher-priced pavers at a much smaller cost.

The Process

In order to create an attractive stamped pattern, the process begins with typical pouring and smoothly of concrete. While the concrete is still wet and malleable, the desired pattern is pressed into the mixture with a polyurethane stamp. Most often a mixture of stamps will be used to give the finished product the authentic look of real brick, tile or stone, which is not typically uniform. The process is finished with a paint or a spray, depending on the desired outcome. Some people even use decorative shapes and patterns to create a completely customizable look.

Pros

At about half the cost of authentic, non-stamped materials, budget concerns make up the largest pro in improving your home's curb appeal with a stamped concrete alternative. Using a unified sturdy material like concrete can also preserve your look over time with very low maintenance. This is because concrete slabs will not settle and shift the way individually placed materials such as rock, slate, brick and cobblestone will. You also will not have to worry about weeding, since there will be no cracks in the material for any type of growth, and controlling the pattern completely means the design is solely up to your imagination.

Cons

While your concrete surface will not shift over time, the finishing agents used to color the surface are likely to chip, flake and fade, especially when being exposed to weather. These concerns can be remedied with a good long-lasting paint and followup maintenance every few years. The grooves and indents in your stamped patterns could cause some accessibility or furniture placement issues. To minimize the problem, ensure that your indents are no deeper than the contractor-recommended 1/4 inch. Overall, both the maintenance of repainting and the concerns of indents will likely be much less time consuming and less of a worry than traditional materials that can be much more unstable and involve more wear and tear.

Can I Do It Myself?

Although the process of stamping concrete involves a small number of steps, most home improvement professionals recommend outsourcing this job to an experienced contractor. For those experienced in do-it-yourself projects, you need to be able to lift heavy materials, and you'll need to have a set of speciality shaping and smoothing tools. The concrete must have a strong, solid base compacted with sand or gravel. Other materials for such projects can be moved if there's a mistake, but any mistakes made in durable concrete are permanent and almost impossible to fix without starting over from scratch.

About the Author

Laura Kingsbury is the director of team support for a successful real estate brokerage, a realtor and an experienced writer. She holds a Bachelor's in journalism and more than 200 clips in four different newspapers and blogs including Andrew Mitchell & Company, "The Penn," "Butler Eagle" and Out Pittsburgh.

Photo Credits

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