Stamping Concrete

Do you want the look of flagstone, brick, or even hardwood without the cost or labor? Then stamped concrete is a good option for you! With endless patterns and looks of different materials you can customize your concrete area however you wish. You can choose any color combination to maximize the esthetics of your new space. You can stamp concrete indoors or outdoors to have a unique and amazing kitchen or patio.

So what are the steps to stamping concrete? We will review them. It is important to have an experienced crew when stamping concrete due to having to complete the process before the concrete sets. The team should be organized and prepared for the job. When doing a large space the area should be laid out in advance and the tools should be set up and ready to go with a sufficient amount of workers to complete the stamping process.

The first thing you want to do is apply a color hardener. You will broadcast the color hardener once no more water has bleed through the surface. Throw it onto the concrete at waist level or a little lower to reduce the amount of color hardener that lifts into the air. Work backwards from the center of the concrete slab toward the edge to avoid the material from building up at the edges. Allow the color hardener to be absorbed by the concrete surface (about 5-10 minutes) then repeat the steps with another layer to ensure an even coverage.

After the color hardener you will want to apply a release agent. This will prevent the stamping mats from sticking to the concrete and disrupting the texture of the imprint. The best way to apply a dry agent is to use an eight inch wide dry tampico brush and to use a flicking motion to disperse it evenly onto the surface. A liquid agent can also be applied with a sprayer evenly onto the concrete just prior to stamping. If you want to tint the liquid release agent it is a good idea to add it a few days in advance to allow the pigment to dissolve entirely before spraying.

Next you want to check to see if the concrete is ready for stamping. The concrete should be at the right consistency. If the concrete is too wet the pattern will not hold, if the concrete has set too much it will be difficult to stamp the concrete and textures may not show up as well.  To check the consistency press your fingers onto the surface of the slab in multiple areas. You should be able to leave a clean imprint roughly 3/16” to ¼” deep. You can also place the stamp on the concrete to test it. The stamp should be able to hold your weight and not sink too much into the concrete or slide around.

If you are using a stamp that is not flexible you will want to pre-texture the perimeter of the slab at about 6 to 12 inches at the edges with a flex mat or texturing skin. If you do not do this the non flexible stamp will overlap the edge of the concrete and you will not be able to press it all the way into the concrete and will not achieve the desired texture.

Now you are ready to stamp the concrete. We recommend stamping in the same order that you laid the concrete. You should always use the stamps in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Make sure that the first row of stamps is perfectly linear because this row will serve as a guide for the rest. If the first row is off by even just a little this can become very apparent especially when using square or rectangle patterns. When you place the stamps you should be able to disperse your weight on the stamps to imprint the pattern followed by a light tamping.

You will want to check details as you go. Even with pre-texturing the edges you may have to use tools to remove concrete that has seeped between the joints of the stamps, to repair any blurred areas, or to fix grout joints where the stamps did not achieve enough pressure. For the best results you will want to complete detailing the same day. A texture skin can be used to correct any problem areas by patting the area with it then restamping the area.

You will then want to remove any residual releasing agent and apply a curing compound. You don’t want to apply the curing compound until the excess powder has been washed off. This will usually be a day or two after the surface has been cleaned of residual powder and this also depends on the weather. After the surface has been cleaned and dried entirely you can apply the curing compound. If you used a liquid release agent you can usually apply the curing compound the same day.

Next you will want to install any joints. Joints are important to relieve any stress on the concrete and to prevent cracking. You can place the joints as the concrete starts to set or you can wait until after the concrete has dried and use a diamond blade saw. Typically, you won’t notice the joint as much if it has been sawed as opposed to grooved.

Lastly, you will want to seal the concrete. Once the slab has cured completely we recommend you apply a sealer. Typically, manufacturers recommend applying a sealant several weeks after the concrete has cured and after the surface has been lightly cleaned. You want to make sure that you don’t apply the sealer too heavy because this could trap the moisture in the concrete slab. A good way to apply a sealer is to use both a sprayer and a roller, this especially works well with deep grout lines. Using the roller to go back over the surface helps with distributing the sealer evenly. (For more details click here.)