Is there a way my contractor can fix this stamped and stained concrete job?

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Old 10-01-11, 06:31 PM
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Question Is there a way my contractor can fix this stamped and stained concrete job?

Hey all!

I recently had a contractor install a sidewalk and patio on my property, along with a retaining wall and a firepit. The concrete was mixed with a Burburry Beige integral color, stamped with an Arizona Tan release and had some Pecan Tan coloring troweled into the borders to provide a darker base when applying the acid stain. The stones for the retaining wall and fire pit were Eagle Bay's 'James River' blend. I choose these colors because they would compliment features of my home; clay colored siding, Morado AZEK deck boards and your standard buff-color retaining wall block from the Home Depot. When choosing these colors, I went to the contractors brochure and I pointed to an image and I said, "I want that" and he said, "Ok, the colors are this, that and the other." He wrote them into the contract.

I was home for two days so I could supervise the work and I saw what the guys did and, besides some minor adjustments to things like the wall or the shape of the forms, I was pleased with the way things were done. Most of the guys were perfectionists and the company owner was willing to send his guys out to change things I didn't like the following day. The day after the concrete was poured I came home and I marveled at my beautiful patio and sidewalk. The only thing that needed to be done was to stain the nautical compass in my front walkway (with a colored stain-by-numbers image that I provided to the company in both English and Spanish) and the borders, as well as seal all the concrete.

I went to work on the day three or four when I suspected the staining to take place (because I had to teach a seminar that I couldn't be away from... rain delays pushed the contracted work to fall on this day) and when I came home I was in shock. The beautiful patio and sidewalk appeared to be STAINED darker than what was previously poured. Now there is little contrast between the border and the concrete as both are horrendous moderate to deep shades of brown instead of light shades of tan with small brown accents.

I haven't contacted the contractor yet because I suspect he hasn't seen what his guys had done. I wanted to provide images via e-mail but I've been on travel soon after I found the job to be wrong.

Is there anything that can be done to have this fixed? Does anyone know if there is a way he can strip the concrete sealer (with a chemical) and somehow 'reverse' or 'lighten' the existing stain? Will a chemical strip somehow hurt the concrete or damage the integral color beneath the stain or sealer? I'm coming to you guys first because I'd like to know if there is something that can be done before he tells me there's nothing. I'm willing to push this matter as far as I need to (including legal options or having him pull up what was poured and having him do it again) because the work performed is not what I paid for. I expect it to be done right and as was discussed... isn't that reasonable for a homeowners expectations?

At best, the concrete can almost match the color of the siding but it still looks like **** against the porch, existing wall or the newly installed walls. If they would've just stained the borders and used a clear sealer then all would be fine. Why the job turned fifteen ****-brown shades darker I just don't know. I'm hoping that it's just a temporary effect of the sealer and that when I get home tomorrow night that everything will be alright.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to your responses.
 
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Old 10-02-11, 02:19 PM
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When stamped concrete is sealed with clear sealer, the colors get MUCH darker, especially the antiquing release powder. It's like when you put clear varnish on wood and suddenly the grain really pops.
One reason it might turn out so brown is that not enough antiquing release agent was removed prior to sealing. Since Burberry Beige is such a light color and Arizona Tan is relatively dark, I suspect that this is exactly what happened.
It can definitely be fixed by stripping the sealer with a chemical stripper or a pressure washer equipped with a sand injector. After it's all stripped, a light acid wash will remove a lot more of the release color, leaving it only in the joints and areas of texture. The high points of the "stones" will be Burberry Beige and the low spots & joints will be Arizona Tan.
I've seen and done this remedy many times myself and it does not harm the concrete if done properly. The ratio of muriatic acid to water is for the acid wash is roughly 15 parts water to 1 part acid. It's applied with an all plastic pump-up garden sprayer and scrubbed with a soft bristled broom, then rinsed off and allowed to thoroughly dry before sealing. You can make the solution stronger or weaker as needed. If they only hosed off the release, or even pressure washed it off, that's usually not enough in my opinion.
Good luck.
 
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Old 10-03-11, 02:29 PM
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Pecos,

Thanks for the reply. I pulled the image from the contractors website and I took three of my own. The image pulled from the website is the same as the one featured in the brochure but the one in the brochure looks a bit lighter.

Photo Album - Imgur

We apparently got the same colors and the same walls but mine doesn't look quite as nice as theirs. First, I think they gave us the wrong border color. When they poured the concrete they floated the coloring into the top of the concrete. I figured it was going to just be a darker base so the stain would make it darker... but it doesn't look like they even stained. I'll definitely be calling about that.

The second thing is the retaining wall in from the brochure mixes nicely with the patio where mine looks much lighter. I know the retaining wall block will have different colors depending on the batch but I can't seem to figure out why mine looks so... off.

Thirdly, the color of the concrete prior to staining was 100% on point and I thought that's what I was going to end up with. When I saw it so much darker I freaked and possibly over-reacted a bit... but it looks like it almost matches the stuff in the brochure so I guess I've got no real complaint there.

So, will the colors of the wall and concrete start to wash themselves and normalize a bit? The concrete was poured last week so I don't know if it'll lighten as the weeks pass. Will the retaining block darken at all? Is there any way I can make the two blend nicer together?

I guess I'll shoot the concrete guy an e-mail and ask why they didn't stain the border and we'll see what he's willing to do. Hopefully he'll make it right.
 
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Old 10-03-11, 05:33 PM
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The border color is definitely off. The concrete won't darken any more, and it may even get somewhat lighter in the coming weeks.
The block isn't going to darken appreciably. Maybe a different lot like you said.
The base color looks close to the brochure, but it looks like the release color "took" differently. Possibly because the pattern and texture of the brochure stamp is different than the one you picked. It almost looks like they used powdered antiquing release on the one in the brochure and tinted liquid release on yours. If so, that's your main difference.
In all though, I know most people who get stamped concrete would be very pleased with what you got. I think it looks nice.
 
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Old 08-03-13, 03:35 AM
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Opposite problem here

We just had a patio poured with the desire for a deep charcoal color. We purchased the powder concrete stain based on color and number of yards of concrete needed, but it turned out a simple gray. It's been pressure washed, but we haven't had the sealcoat applied yet. We do know it will darken a bit with the sealer, but it still will be nowhere close to what we wanted.

Is there a colored sealcoat that may achieve this or let it weather awhile before sealing?
 
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