If you’re tired of dull, drab gray walks, patios and driveways, combine the hottest trends in hardscape design – stained concrete and stamped concrete. Called a “flat pour” in the industry, standard gray driveways are a “flat bore.” You can dress up your Madison WI area home with a driveway, patio or walk that’s extraordinary. With a couple of added steps you go from dull to dramatic using the same basic materials.
Stamping is a way to combine color and texture to give concrete the look of natural stone or wood. Do you think friends and neighbors would stop and stare if your driveway looks like reclaimed barn boards? Of course they would.
If you’re planning a new driveway, walk or patio, incorporating a stamping pattern or stain color is an easy choice. You can only stamp the texture into freshly-poured concrete. But there’s good news for anyone who wants to upgrade an existing concrete layer. If your patio or driveway is in excellent shape – all cracks and chips repaired, etc. – a thin new layer applied over the top can be stamped and stained. So, you might be able to have the look of a custom installation without tearing out the old one. Consult the professionals at Marvins Brick Pavers for recommendations.
Have you seen images or visited homes with patios or driveways displaying richly colored and glossy finished concrete? You can have that, too. The freeze/thaw cycle in Wisconsin plus the use of ice melting chemicals stresses concrete. A custom sealant keeps colors vibrant and protects the surface of stamped decorative concrete.
Stamped Concrete – Pros And Cons
Once you get over the first impression – Wow! Understand that decorative concrete installations aren’t right in every situation. Each has its benefits and drawbacks. In most cases, however, the positive attributes of stamping and staining concrete overshadow the negatives. Consider these:
- Affordable Elegance – if you want the look of a paver, brick or natural stone patio of driveway, decorative concrete treatments are far less expensive.
- Enhanced value – the demand for outdoor living space is climbing with no end in sight. A family-friendly patio is an asset and a custom driveway boosts curb appeal – making a stunning “first impression.”
- A creative outlet – there are dozens of patterns, textures and color choices to fit your lifestyle.
- Safety – textured concrete surfaces are slip-resistant and adding non-slip additives to sealants makes it even safer.
- Rugged good looks – no matter the pattern or colors you choose the surface “wears like concrete” because that’s what it is!
- Low maintenance – properly sealed decorative concrete surfaces don’t need much looking after. And you shouldn’t have to reseal for 2-3 years. Clean off debris and residue from road salt and reseal occasionally. Could it get much easier?
There are, of course, features some homeowners consider drawbacks, including:
- Not DIY-friendly – while you can do it yourself, stamping and staining concrete takes special tools, skills and experience most homeowners don’t have.
- Requires care – some homeowners want an “install and forget” patio of driveway and custom decorative surfaces do need periodic maintenance like sealing.
- Hard to repair – a damaged decorative surface makes matching the texture and color more difficult than just applying a patch.
The care and maintenance of decorative stamped concrete isn’t much different from what you should do for any concrete surface – keep it clean, removed corrosives like road salt and spills, etc.
Decorative Concrete Finishes
Large, rubber mats with textures and designs molded into them apply your chosen pattern to still wet concrete. Mats go where you want them and get tamped down leaving the proper impression. When all the mats come off you cannot tell you started with a flat concrete surface. The transformation is dramatic.
As more and more homeowners discover the world of custom concrete hardscapes, more and more mat textures and shapes appear. There are dozens available with dozens more on the horizon. Finding a special shape and color for your outdoor spaces is a challenge – not because they’re hard to find, but because there are so many from which to choose!
Among the most popular choices are:
- Slate pavers – mixing rectangular shapes to give the surface the appearance of cut stones.
- Traditional brick – for a real colonial feel consider a patio, walk or driveway stamped to look like classic bricks. Would you use the traditional red brick side-by-side look or a fancy herringbone pattern?
- Random stone – for a natural look nothing beats a flagstone patio or cobblestone drive. You can have it without the labor-intensive installation and upkeep.
- Natural timbers – concrete stamped to look like wooden planks is a hot trend. You can recreate the appearance of custom hardwood flooring or landscape timbers.
Adding Color To Concrete Patios, Driveways
All these treatments need the added impact of color to make them truly special. Where does the color come from? There are three common sources for adding color to concrete:
- Integral color – the chosen color goes in to the cement mixture. This is ideal for an even, one-color pour. Usually for earth tones like shades of tans and browns.
- Dry-shake coloring – this is one of the most popular sources of color and it doubles as a concrete hardening agent. Colors sprinkled on a still wet surface in random patterns and absorbed into the concrete. Ideal for intense, dense color combinations.
- Dyes, stains, tints – also applied to the surface they release chemical agents to bond with the surface. Often used in combination with colored concrete and dry-shake materials for dynamic colored textures and artistic creations.
Patio Pavers vs. Stamped Concrete – Consult A Pro
When it’s time to create a new outdoor space or rejuvenate an existing one, there are options and many questions. Are you asking yourself: “Do I want another flat, boring gray driveway or plain old square gray patio? There are so many interesting choices of stone and cement pavers, are they better than concrete?”
The best advice from hardscape contractors from around the country is simple: don’t try to sort it all out on your own. Take advantage of a respected professional’s years of experience.
Marvin Martinez has decades of experience installing a wide variety of paver and decorative poured concrete creations. He and his team at Marvin’s Brick Pavers know how best to evaluate what you want and need. Give him a call at 608-630-8855. Or contact him via email.
Skilled hardscape professionals Marvin’s teams work daily with concrete pavers, bricks, stones and decorative poured concrete. Their craftsmanship and experience is unmatched. Make a statement and add decorative colored and stamped concrete to your Madison WI home.