The popularity of using a stamped concrete overlay on driveways and patios has increased greatly in recent years. New materials and technologies have improved the ease of application, longevity, and maintenance of stamped concrete overlays. They can also represent great cost-savings over the complete replacement of a patio or driveway.
However, there are downsides to stamped concrete overlay. It is not a magic cure for the problems that developed with your original concrete surface. The causes of these problems must be addressed so that the stamped concrete overlay can be successful. Learn more below about the pros and cons of stamped concrete overlay application.
Stamped concrete overlay is much thinner than a typical concrete driveway bed or patio slab. Overlays can be laid just ¼-inch thick. Just as versatile as poured concrete, they can be colored, stamped with surface design, or patterned with inlaid texture mats. Because so little concrete is used, they are significantly cheaper than a full-depth concrete pour of 4 to 6 inches. Stamped concrete overlays are durable and suitable for both patio resurfacing and driveways. They are easy to maintain with periodic sweeping and washing and can be coated with a penetrating sealer for stain resistance. Apply a clear sealer for shine and color enhancement, and add tiny polyethylene texture beads to make the surface more slip-resistant.
It is not recommended that you do a stamped concrete overlay treatment entirely on your own. The key to success in applying one is the correct preparation of the existing concrete surface. You will need to identify the source of the problems with the existing concrete before applying the stamped concrete overlay. Preparing the surface by leveling it with a concrete grinder, filling and curing holes, cracks and depressions will be worthless if the concrete has settled due to poor compression of the subsurface. You may need to drill through the concrete slab first and pump in some stabilizing foam epoxy to level the subsurface again. Floating the slab surface may solve the problem.
Because the concrete overlay is applied so thinly, it dries quickly, leaving little time to fix any errors made in the process. The handling and placement of texture mats can be tricky, involving the use of releasing fluid or dry hardener to remove the mats from the concrete once the pattern has settled cleanly into the concrete. As well, you should choose the style of stamped concrete overlay carefully, so it complements your landscape and home exterior.
Think about the pros and cons of stamped concrete overlay carefully. If you want to cover concrete that is in good condition but is dull, with just a few stains, then a stamped concrete overlay treatment will work well for you, at a substantial cost saving. If your concrete patio slab or driveway has major structural problems, a stamped concrete overlay will neither solve nor hide them effectively. You may end up spending more money than you had planned if you must remove the overlay when it, too, cracks and splits from water damage or an unstable subsurface.