I want to put in a stamped decorative concrete patio. Any tips?

Old 03-21-09, 12:53 AM
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I want to put in a stamped decorative concrete patio. Any tips?

I've seen it done two ways. One company stained over the top of the concrete and one mixed the color into the wet concrete. Of the two methods, I prefer the latter to the former. Watching both over time the color infusion method simply wore better, had less problems with flaking and wearing. I've also seen where they put a skim coat and stamp the patten in that over existing concrete. It was done on a driveway with car traffic and now has some chunks missing. When it is laid in forms, color infused and stamped, the overall performance is well worth the price.
Old 03-21-09, 05:08 AM
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I'm not sure if there's a question in there somewhere, but the thread title says "any tips?" So here are my tips (lots of them).
First, don't go with the lowest bid. Decorative concrete has gotten so popular quickly that everybody and their brother thinks they can do it. New contractors have jumped into the market and most have no idea what they're doing. In reality, there's quite a long learning curve to it. Check references and look at several jobs the contractor has done that are AT LEAST 3 years old. Make sure that the same guys that poured those are still working for the company. Otherwise, just because the company did the work, they may have new guys that have little or no experience and the work will be completely different.
Second, either coloring method is fine. Integral color (mixed in) is easier for the contractor and removes the step of working in color from the process. However, it does nothing for the strength of the slab. Color hardener (the colored powder worked into the top of the slab) does as its name implies and actually makes the surface stronger and denser. It's also easier to patch should a crack or popout develop. many people mistakenly think that having the color all the way through will hide defects if it chips or something. If concrete chips you will see the stone underneath which is not colored, so it will show up just as much. The color hardened slab is much easier to repair. Both methods use the same colorfast pigments and resist fading equally. If it looks like the color faded, it means that it needs to be resealed. For instance, the color will look fine when the slab is wet, but when dry it looks faded. Sealer will bring the color back to normal.
In my opinion, stamped overlays are doomed to fail. However, in climates like Texas, they would have a much better chance of staying than in a freeze/thaw climate.
In a nutshell, hire an insured contractor you really trust and stay away from the lowballers. By the way, if you meant to try this yourself, it's not nearly as simple as it looks on HGTV and i would strongly recommend against it.

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