Our stamped concrete process explained

Today, thanks to advances in the redi-mix industry and tool manufacturers, concrete can be colored, shaped, and textured in hundreds of different ways. This frees the designers from previous limits in dimension and color. We are now able to install concrete that has the appearance of natural materials in a fraction of the time it would take to install the real materials. And more importantly, at a fraction of the cost.

Decorative concrete can be stronger and more environmentally resistant than ordinary concrete, due to improved surface hardeners, and clear-coat sealers. With the many improvements in materials and processes, decorative concrete is more durable, affordable, and esthetically valuable to your home than ever before.

The first part of the process (after removing any pre-existing concrete) is laying a crushed-stone base. Flexible forms are then placed around the designated area, creating the shape of the design. Once these forms are in place, the crushed stone is re-graded, to ensure the concrete will pour to a full four-inch thickness for patios and sidewalks (five inches for driveways). Next, a grid of rebar is put in place to further strengthen and support the concrete.

Once all of the set-up completed, the concrete is poured into place.

There are basically two methods of applying color to concrete. The first is integral color, where the color is added right in the cement mixer, giving the cement a solid color all way through. Although this method is a bit more costly, it is a good option for projects that are at risk of minor chipping – such as driveways that are cleared with a snow-plow in the winter.

The second (and most popular) method is the dry-shake method. After the concrete is poured and prepped, a dry powder (color hardener) is applied to the surface. The hardener is massaged into the concrete, and the process repeated several times to ensure proper penetration. Not only does the color hardener tint the concrete, it also increases the surface strength significantly.

Regardless of the primary coloring method, the concrete is allowed to harden a bit. At this point, a secondary color can be added via a release agent in powder from – a method very similar to the dry-shake. With use of additional colors, a striking three-dimensional and natural look can be achieved.

Now the project is ready to be stamped. Our professional installers begin by placing a series of stamping tools over the project. They carefully press the stamps into the colored concrete, creating the pattern and texture of the design. The stamps are immediately removed and the project is left to cure over night.

The next day, the slab is power-washed to remove the excess color hardener or release that will still be present. Then the concrete is left to cure for several more days. The installers return to acid-etch the project in areas where the release and color hardener did not wash off completely. Finally, a clear coat sealer designed specifically for outdoor stamped concrete is applied. In this sealer, a sandy material called Shark Grip is added. This gives the surface just enough traction to avoid any unwanted slippery areas.

Now that the design is complete, we must saw control joints, to control the cracking all concrete experiences due to the natural expansion and contraction of the material. These cuts are done within the lines of the patters as much as possible, to minimize their visibility.

By following these procedures and using quality materials, we can guarantee your new investment will always look new and beautiful. View our gallery of stamped concrete work!

We provide stamped concrete supplies and services throughout southeastern Wisconsin including patios, driveways, swimming pools, entry ways, sidewalks and commercial projects of all sizes. We provide services to the following Wisconsin counties: Waukesha, Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha, Walworth, Rock, Jefferson, Dodge, Washington, Ozaukee, Manitowoc, Sheboygan, Fond du Lac, Calumet, Dane and more depending on the project! Contact us today for a FREE stamped concrete quote.

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