Stamped concrete allows a home or business owner to achieve the look and feel of natural paving options at a fraction of the cost. Not only that, but it offers a much greater durability than substances such as stone, tile, or slate. If you would like to learn more about how a stamped concrete surface is installed, read on. This article will provide a useful overview of the process.
At least in the beginning, installing a stamped concrete surface proceeds in a nearly identical fashion to installing any other concrete slab. The soil must be carefully leveled and then compacted. Wood forms must be erected around the perimeter, thus designating the boundaries of the slab. Finally the concrete is poured into the forms to the appropriate depth and permitted to cure partially.
Here is where things start to depart from the usual norm. The next step involves broadcasting color hardener across the surface of the concrete to impart the desired coloration. This hardener comes in the form of a fine powder that is cast by hand across the surface of the partially cured concrete. Care must be taken to distribute the color hardener equally. It is then allowed to sit there for several minutes, soaking up water and dissolving into the concrete before being smoothed over using a concrete float. Generally the process is then carried out a second time.
Once the color hardener has been successfully implemented, a so-called release agent is distributed across the surface. The release agent has two important functions. The first is to modify the hue of the color hardener, giving it the striations, mottling, and marbling characteristic of the natural materials it seeks to mimic. Second—and even more importantly—the release agent acts to keep the stamp mats from sticking to the top of the concrete.
In order to successfully pass as a natural paving material, it is necessary to score the concrete's surface with grooves that resemble the gaps between tiles. This is done using what are known as stamp mats. These consist of rigid, flat plastic pieces that are capable of being locked together in a variety of different patterns. They are laid across the concrete in rows, stamped into place, then carefully peeled up—at which point the process is repeated for the second row. In order to pass for a natural paving material, it is important that the mats be applied in random orders, so that the pattern does not repeat itself conspicuously.
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