Advantages and Disadvantages of Stamped Concrete | Problems with Stamped Concrete

Advantages and Disadvantages of Stamped Concrete | Problems with Stamped Concrete

Advantages and Disadvantages of Stamped Concrete

What is Stamped Concrete?

Stamped concrete is a concrete that involves process of applying concrete to a prepared surface in patterns that are stamped.

Stamping can enhance the appearance of both utilitarian and decorative concrete surfaces; however stamped concrete is not just an aesthetic enhancement. In many cases, this process provides structural advantages over other forms of construction because it can be constructed in place without the need for formwork and supports.

The process of creating decorative concrete dates back many years, with methods that range from simple stencils and molds to free-form earth stamping.

Stamped Concrete Vs Pavers

The most common use of stamped concrete today is on flooring and driveways. Within the commercial flooring market, this is an especially popular application because it can be very cost effective to install over a base or subfloor without the need for additional labor in finishing.

Asphalt driveways and other low traffic floors and surfaces generally use a floating process with a thin layer of concrete or “overlay”. A floating floor is constructed by pouring concrete over the existing surface without using forms.

This creates a seamless appearance and is one of the most widely used applications for stamped concrete. Stamped concrete can also be used for slab-on-grade applications with structural reinforcing poured into the voids between the stamping prior to the application of additional concrete.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Stamped Concrete

These are advantages and disadvantages of Stamped Concrete;

Advantages of Stamped Concrete

  1. Unique texture and variation– Stamped concrete provides a unique texture to the surface; it is not just a flat ground-covering material like poured concrete, but truly a one of a kind finished concrete surface.
  2. Can be constructed in place without footing forms- The need for footing forms is eliminated and slabs are produced that are structurally strong, waterproof, and durable.
  3. Waterproofing– Concrete floors can be waterproofed by applying an approved sealant immediately after the concrete has been stamped in place.
  4. Free-form design– No limit on the shape or design of the concrete surface.
  5. Budget Friendly– In many cases, this process is able to be made more cost effective than other pavers flooring options due to its ability to be constructed in place without forms, labor included.
  6. Durability– Concrete floors are extremely durable and long lasting. These floors can withstand a great deal of abuse such as walking on them barefoot and they will not crack or deteriorate with water damage or freezing temperatures
  7. Design– Design options are truly endless with this product. The use of different stamps, different colored concrete, and the addition of texture to enhance the surface make this an extremely creative option.

Disadvantages of Stamped Concrete

  1. Installation process- Because concrete is laid into place rather than poured onto a surface, pouring in a thin layer over existing flooring or over subfloors requires a very steady hand and expertise in mixing proper cement ratios and pouring to avoid air voids in the surface.
  2. Cost– This is not a cost effective or affordable option if you need the entire floor covered, however it can be cost effective for small projects such as driveways and walkways. Due to the labor-intensive nature of constructing a stamped concrete floor, it usually costs more to install than other types of floors
  1. Durability– Concrete is durable, but not indestructible. Excessive use of acidic chemicals and water damage can cause concrete to deteriorate, although proper sealant application and care can prolong this process.
  2. Installation– Waterproofing is an absolute must for concrete floors and driveways that receive a substantial amount of traffic in order to avoid slick or damaged surfaces. Stamping concrete can also produce an inconsistent appearance if it is not done carefully.
  3. Scarring– Stamped concrete is not indestructible and can be damaged by heavy equipment, improper maintenance, or abuse.
  4. Sealing- Sealing is an absolute must if you plan on having a concrete floor or driveway. As with any surface, dirt, debris, and other contaminants will make their way to the bottom of your footwear. This material must be cleaned from the surface regularly through sweeping and vacuuming to maintain a clean area to walk on and prevent damage to the stamped concrete surface.
  1. DIY– The installation process requires expertise in mixing, pouring, and finishing concrete in order to avoid air voids that would compromise the structural integrity of the floor.
  2. Solid Base- A floor constructed without formwork must be constructed over a solid base, which can be an extra cost. The process also adds time to construction because it is necessary to stamp each surface separately and wait for the concrete to cure before proceeding with the next piece.
  3. Lacks the Visual and Tactile Characteristics- Another disadvantage of Stamped concrete is that it lacks the visual and tactile characteristics of a traditional poured slab. It also requires additional finishes, such as a seal coat to protect it from oils and dirt, or an overlay to improve its appearance.

Even with the disadvantages of stamped concrete, this is still a very popular choice for low traffic areas because installation does not require specialized forms, ductwork, or tools. It is also an especially good choice in areas that are hostile to concrete construction such as on sloped terrain and in cold temperatures.

Problems with Stamped Concrete

Concrete stamped driveways have become a popular choice among homeowners in many areas of the United States (especially in suburban areas), but the truth is that there are several problems with stamped concrete.  Here are some top stamped concrete problems;

  1. Chipping and cracking- A common issue with stamped concrete lies with the chipping and cracking of the surface. When working on concrete, it is important to work with a quality wet mix to avoid any unwanted problems with the surface as there is a significant difference in the working properties of wet and dry concrete. A great way to avoid a chipped, cracking surface is to work with the right person for the job. The best way to do this is by checking with your local contractor for the best contractors in town.
  2. Concrete Sliding/Settling- Another common concern is the sliding of the concrete over time, which is caused by moisture associated with the concrete. To prevent this, it is recommended to avoid stamping into wet and humid areas, instead allowing it to dry out completely before placing down the concrete.
  3. Stamped concrete can be slippery- A common concern with stamped concrete is the risk of concrete getting slippery over time. To prevent this, it is recommended to work with paving subcontractors who are willing to take precautions such as applying anti slip surface treatments to the steps and walkways.
  4. Stamped concrete can stain your wood- When painting your wooden furniture, you may be surprised after cleaning and scrubbing at an inconspicuous spot to find that there is a bit of a mark from the concrete or ground underneath. One way to prevent this is to apply a pressure treated wood sealant that will form a barrier for the wood, preventing stains from the concrete in the future.
  5. Stamped concrete can be expensive- One of the biggest concerns with stamped concrete is the overall expense of having it done. It is recommended to use what you have and put in blue stone or cobblestone around your house with plants and flowers rather than using stamped concrete. Blue stone and cobblestone is a beautiful end product with natural variations and is much less expensive than having a stamped concrete driveway.
  6. Stamped concrete is difficult to repair- Because it is poured in one large slab of concrete, it can be difficult to do repairs and touch ups. This may require replacing the whole slab, which is something that you may not want to do for a driveway.
  7. Stamped concrete can result in uneven surfaces- Another problem that people have with stamped concrete is that it can result in an uneven surface where different sections of the concrete settle differently. To avoid this, it is recommended to have a professional contractor who knows how to lay down stamped concrete over a large area.
  8. Stamped concrete can be too hot- Have you ever stepped onto a fully sunlit pavement or driveway and burned your feet? This is because the pavement or driveway can get too hot due to the excessive heat absorption from the sun. This is a common problem with stamped concrete because of its smooth surface. One way to help prevent this from happening is to put down some sort of surface treatment that will reduce the amount of heat absorption.
  9. Stamped concrete can be too cold- Have you ever stepped onto a patch of stamped concrete and had it look so icy that it feels like you’re walking on ice? This is because the surface temperature of the concrete is much colder than usual during winter. It is recommended to install and/or lay down a protective covering or heating system underneath your driveway or pavement.
  10. Stamped concrete is relatively new- Did you know that stamped concrete is actually fairly new in the world of paving? It was only discovered in the 1900s, which means that many people don’t know how to deal with it. One problem with stamped concrete is that most people don’t know how to lay it down properly and may hire someone who doesn’t have enough experience. To avoid this, it is recommended to do your research and find a contractor who will be able to put down your driveway in a professional manner.
  11. Choosing the right coloring can be a challenge- It may be a bit daunting to choose a color for your driveway that is worn down by the elements. However, since most stamped concrete is fairly new and people often don’t know how to lay it down properly, it can be difficult to choose a color that will look good and hold up to the elements. One way to avoid this is to find a contractor in your area who is good at knowing how to lay down stamped concrete professionally.
  12. Stamped concrete may not be the best solution for all surfaces- Did you know that stamped concrete is only ideal to use on flat surfaces like walkways and driveways? It is important to know that stamped concrete isn’t ideal for other types of surfaces, so it’s important to do your research beforehand.

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