Concrete Engraving, Scoring, Stamped, & Coloring

Concrete Engraving/ Concrete Scoring

Concrete engraving is the process of cutting or scoring lines in the surface of concrete to create patterns and designs.  You can engrave concrete to give it the appearance of tile, brick, stone, etc.  It's also used to keep a separation between colors if you're painting or staining the concrete.

Concrete engraving can be simple or extremely difficult depending on the detail of the design.  It can also be very expensive because most engraving requires skilled tradesmen for highly detailed patterns and designs.

Stamped Concrete

The goal of stamped concrete is to imitate other materials such as stone, brick, tile, wood, etc. There are structural as well as economical reasons for using concrete instead of the real thing.

Stamped concrete can easily be mistaken for the real thing by most people, but is much more economical. Its strength and durability is unmatched by any other paving materials.

While concrete is still in its plastic state (wet), large rubber mats or stamps are pressed into the surface. When the stamps are pulled up, a texture and/or pattern is left. Color is usually added to the surface prior to stamping or it can be added to the concrete mix itself. A release powder is broadcast across the surface to keep the stamps from sticking to the concrete. The release often helps to further enhance the appearance by adding an antique effect.

There are two types of release agent, liquid and powder.  Powder is not the most user friendly.  It's messy, requires wearing a mask, is relatively expensive and must be washed off.  Liquid release is much cleaner and less expensive since a little goes a long way, and doesn’t need to be washed off.

The end result of stamping can be a simple textured slab that looks like one big piece of stone or slate.  It can also be very ornate by combining different patterns and colors and creating borders, bands and accent designs.  This type of finish is fitting for many surfaces including patios, porches, driveways, sidewalks and pool decks, etc.  It can also be used for vertical applications to create the look of stone or brick walls.

The biggest attraction of stamping concrete is its versatility.  There are many textures, patterns, and colors that are readily available which makes design opportunities almost endless.  You can also incorporate the use of stains and dyes to further customize the appearance of concrete.

Because of the beauty, versatility, durability, and cost of stamped concrete, its popularity has surpassed any of the traditional paving materials.

Colored Concrete

The term "colored concrete" refers to concrete with pigments added during the mixing process. This is a fast growing trend in the concrete industry including the residential sector.

There are a few reasons why it's becoming more and more popular among customers as well as contractors. Adding color to the mix is a quick, easy, and fairly inexpensive way to customize the appearance of concrete. You don't have to wait for the concrete to cure to color it as you would with paints or stains. Once it's poured and finished there's no need pay another contractor to come and color it. This makes it less expensive than any of the other decorative options.

The greatest advantage of colored concrete versus alternatives is the consistency of the color throughout the thickness of the slab.  All concrete eventually chips, pops, or scales on the surface, especially in harsh climates with many freeze and thaw cycles.  When this happens to concrete that only has color at the surface, any defects are very apparent because they will be the gray or white color of regular, uncolored concrete.  Concrete that's colored throughout does a much better job of hiding those defects.  Colored concrete charts do not differ very much between manufacturers.  It's important to understand that the final color won't match the charts exactly.  Therefore, you can easily spend too much time deciding colors since some colors are so similar once the concrete is poured.

Because there are many uncontrollable variables that determine the final color, it is impossible to guarantee the exact color once the concrete has cured and is sealed.  Temperature, wind speed, humidity, sunlight and precipitation are some of the factors that alter the final appearance.  Because these can change throughout the course of a project, integral colors can differ slightly from one pour or load to the next.  You need a knowledgeable and experienced contractor to get the best possible results.