Posts By: Mark Donaldson

Stamped Concrete Pros & Cons: Weighing Your Options

Decorative concrete has become a national sensation because of the many options it presents despite being an economical alternative to other flooring materials. But just like any story, there is a good and bad side to it. It is important for homeowners and commercial establishments to know these two sides to give them the proper expectation and to help them decide whether concrete stamping is the thing for their home or commercial space.

stamped concrete driveway Philadelphia

Pros of Stamping Concrete:

  • Better Aesthetics – It is a known fact that stamped concrete offers a large selection of patterns and designs to choose from. You can make it look like natural stone, brick, pavers, cobblestone, wood, and more. You can even have a custom design made especially for you. You can even choose the colors that would go on it and make it complement the exterior theme of your home.
  • Easy Installation – Compared to the material it is being substituted for, concrete overlays are a lot easier to install because you just pour and spread the overlay mixture and stamping can begin. Other flooring materials, on the other, need to be installed piece by piece. Some may even require a complete concrete overhaul.
  • Economical – In a nutshell,  concrete stamped overlay is a lot more affordable than natural stone, brick, and even pavers. Although it does look expensive, it costs less and lasts long enough to make the investment worthwhile.
  • Low Maintenance – If you ever had real stone or bricks installed before, you know how weeds can grow in between units and how they can become uneven as time goes by. This will never be an issue with a stamped surface because it is one continuous piece of concrete overlay. Not even joints or scorelines could make it high maintenance.

Cons of Stamped Concrete:

  • Simulates Aesthetics Only – Concrete stamp patterns may make an overlay resemble an expensive flooring material but it can only mimic its visual features, not its durability or any other good features. Natural stone is known to be very durable and a stamped version can not replicate that.
  • Cracks – Just like most concrete, it is prone to cracking. However, the cracking often depends on the old concrete slab it is applied on. If there is an existing movement or crack under the overlay, then it is most likely for the top layer to crack at one point. But if the old concrete is in good condition and the subgrade has been properly prepared and compacted, cracks could be minimized.
  • Color Retouching – There may come a time that the custom stains or colors on a stamped concrete surface would fade away, chip off, or peel. It can be retouched but do not expect the contractor to get it exactly as it was. There may be quite a difference but then it isn’t a total disadvantage if it still looks decorative.

Does Concrete Resurfacing Work? Yes, It Does!

Concrete resurfacing is one of the most popular methods of restoring concrete surfaces, both indoors and out. It is a way to make old and worn concrete look new again. It is also a way to cover up minor damage in a less expensive way. It is but natural for homeowners to ask if it is a reliable option. A thin layer of overlay or coating on an old concrete does not seem like it would adhere and last long enough. Does concrete resurfacing work? It would…

man in action

…if the old slab is in good shape

There is a certain degree of damage that a resurfacing can resolve. A slab with several large and deep cracks and holes might be better off removed and replaced with a new pour. An overlay or coating would work best on a surface with zero to minimal damage.

…if the concrete surface is properly prepared

Surface preparation is a very important part of the resurfacing process. Any damage must be repaired, any debris disposed of, and any furniture removed. For structurally sound concrete, the surface is cleaned to make sure that it is free from dirt that could affect the adherence of the overlay or coating.

…if the proper concrete resurfacing material is used

There are different types of overlays and coatings available. You must choose based on where it would be installed, the look you are going for, and other attributes that you find necessary, such as slip-resistance. Make sure to take time to get to know each option until you find the right material.

…if the weather is just right

Although some resurfacing materials are not as temperature-sensitive as others, it is still important to consider the weather. Cold wind could slow down the drying process. Tremendous heat could make the overlay dry up prematurely. Rain could soak the material and wash it away before it even dries. Improper drying could cause cracking, flaking, and peeling.

…if done by a professional

Even if you think you can do a DIY, it is highly recommended to hire a pro when it comes to resurfacing a concrete surface. A licensed and experienced contractor would be able to install the material properly, following the proper process and using the right tools and equipment. Also, a contractor’s work comes with a warranty. So, you can rest assured that your old concrete surfaces would definitely be enhanced both in form and function.

You never really know whether a resurfacing material worked or not unless you give it a try and see how long it lasts. If you ensure the things mentioned above, then the chances of it working is guaranteed.