Because decorative concrete is a relatively new and growing industry, a lot of common questions are raised. The following is a list of FAQ followed by our expert answers based on experience.
Q. How often should I seal my stamped concrete?
A. It is recommended that you seal your stamped concrete at least every two years. It is not necessary to seal every year. If you begin to notice the color starting to loose its intensity it is time to seal. When applying sealer it is best to apply it in 2 thin coats opposed to one thick coat. Sealing not only protects your concrete from the elements but brings colors and textures to life.
Q. I am afraid that my concrete may be slippery when it gets wet. Is there anything I can do to give the surface more traction?
A. Yes there are products you can add to increase traction. By adding a slip resistant additive to the sealer before applying it you can increase traction and reduce the likelihood that someone would slip. Matcrete’s sealer additive, Rhino Grip, provides excellent traction and can be added to most manufactures sealers.
Q. What is the likelihood that my stamped concrete will crack?
A. A common misconception about stamped concrete is that there is no need for control joints in the concrete. Stamped concrete is just as susceptible to cracking as regular concrete. To control where the concrete will crack an inch deep saw cut is made through the entirety of the surface. While many people do not like to see a saw cut going through their stamped concrete, there are ways to make cracking inconspicuous.
One method used to “mask” cracking is applying Zip Strip into the concrete. Zip strip is a thin piece of plastic that is embedded into the concrete while it is still fresh, after it has been finished. As the concrete cures, a thin crack will form where the zip strip is embedded. When the concrete cracks along the zip strip it is typically no more than 1/8” and cracks in a straight line. You will still see a crack in your concrete but it is not a evident as a 1/4” saw cut.
Another way to hide saw cuts is to pick a pattern that that has straight joint lines. Patterns like Running Bond Used Brick, UK Cobblestone, or London Cobblestone all have joints that line up in a straight line. These straight joint lines make the saw cut less noticeable.
Q. How long will it take to install my stamped concrete?
A. The time it takes to complete a stamp job is dependent on many factors. A typical job can take anywhere from 1 day to several weeks. Depending on the size of the job, the intricacy of the shape, and the weather conditions all play a role in time of completion.
Q. How much does an average stamped concrete patio cost?
A. Each contractor is likely to charge a different rate for their work. Typical costs range from $8 to $12 a square foot depending on color, pattern, and extras like borders and steps.
Q. How much does an average concrete overlay cost?
A. Concrete overlays vary in cost. A thin microtopping that is applied at no more than an 1/8 of an inch can cost anywhere from $3 to $5 per square foot installed. If you go with a decorative microtopping the cost depends how much detail is in the work. A stamped overlay is the most expensive type of overlay typically costing $8 - $10 per square foot and up.
Q. I am considering having a concrete overlay put on my front porch. How durable is an overlay and what are the chances of it flaking up or cracking during the freeze thaw of winter?
A. Concrete overlays, if installed properly, are just as durable a standard concrete. The main step in installing an overlay is surface preparation. As long as the contractor takes proper measure to ensure that the overlay is capable of adhering to the existing surface there should not be a problem. Overlay material consists of polymer modified latex liquid which is in essence glue. When the liquid is mixed with the concrete powder a material is created that has the adhesion of glue but maintains the durability of concrete.
Q. What do I do if I don’t like the color of my stamped patio once it is finished? Is there anything that can be done?
A. If you don’t like the color of your patio there are several things that can be done. None of which are very cost effective. This is why it is important to be sure of the colors your pick out before you begin your project. Most contractors are willing to make a small sample to show you how the colors and patterns you pick will look before they pour the entire slab.
If your concrete has not been sealed and you do not like the color, you can tint the color of the surface with acid or water based stains. This would be the easiest approach but you must make sure that the concrete has not been sealed.
If your concrete has been sealed and you decide you don’t like the color of the surface it can get messy. In order for any stain to adhere to the concrete the sealer must be stripped. This can be done with products like Soy-Gel (link). It is an all natural, soy based coating stripper that will not harm surrounding plants. Once the sealer has been stripped the stain can be applied and it can be resealed.
If you decide that you no longer like both the pattern and color of your stamped concrete then it is possible to go over it with an overlay. Some grinding and/or stripping may be required to try and level out the concrete. Once this is done, one of Miracotes underlayments can be applied to provide an even surface. From there is up to you. You can make your surface look like regular, gray broom finished concrete or you can go over it with a stamped overlay or decorative micro topping. This process is very labor intensive and can be expensive. It may be more cost effective to rip out the concrete and start over.