What You Need to Know About the Stamped Concrete Process
Before deciding on the pattern and color of your next stamped concrete project, it’s important to have a basic understanding of the stamped concrete process. What follows is a brief overview of that process, including information on patterns, base colors, release colors, stamping, washing and cutting, sealing and maintenance. If you should have further questions on this process, your contractor or distributor should be able to help you, along with the experts at manufacturer Butterfield Color®.
Stamped Concrete Patterns
On our website you will find over 75 stamped concrete patterns to choose from, each with its own unique color combination. Assuming you have chosen a basic location for your stamped concrete, you can now focus on your vision of the final product. Stamped concrete can be broken into five basic pattern types: Brick, Stone, Slate, Wood and Texture. Obviously these are just basic categories, but using these as a reference will help you narrow which patterns to look at first. One basic element to consider is to compliment your existing hardscape or interior decor rather than trying to “match” existing surfaces.
Base Color for Stamped Concrete
Now that you have chosen your pattern, you need to pick your colors. Most stamped concrete has two colors: a base color and an accent color. There are two ways to create the base color for new concrete: integral color and color hardener. With either method the end result of your stamped concrete will emphasize this color.
Integral color is mixed into the concrete in the truck. The color is either added at the concrete plant or on the project site before the pouring begins. Integral color is the most common way to color and concrete and Butterfield Color offers a premium integral color system called Uni-Mix® Integral Concrete Color. The Uni-Mix® System is the preferred system of contractors, specifiers and owners.
Uni-Mix® Integral Concrete Color has proprietary ingredients that make it unique. Our competition will try to “match” our color, but it’s been our experience and quite unsatisfied customers’ experience, that the color does not turn out the same. If you are choosing from our color charts, require that your contractor uses our color to ensure the success in the job. A quick and simple way to ensure this is to request the lot numbers of the color before they pour.
An alternate way to color concrete is to use shake-on color hardener. Butterfield Color® Perma-Cast® Shake-on Color Hardener is broadcast on the concrete during the initial stages of the finishing process and is worked into the surface to create the base color. Not all contractors use color hardener, so be sure to discuss this with your contractor prior to choosing colors. Color hardener will create the base color similar to integral color, but also has additional coloring options and creates a hardened, more dense surface.
Release Color for Stamped Concrete
Release agent is used to keep the stamp from sticking during the stamping process. The release agent will also offer an accent color to the concrete once washed and sealed. When picking the release color, be sure to use a color that accents your base color. Usually a darker release agent over a lighter base color works best.
Immediately follow the application of the release agent, your contractor will begin the stamping process by tamping the stamping tools into the concrete surfaces. The texture and/or pattern is created as the tool is pressed into the concrete. As the imprinting tool is pressed into the concrete surface, a portion of the colored release agent is embedded into the textured surface of the concrete.
Washing and Cutting Stamped Concrete
Your contractor will wash and cut the concrete slab once the concrete is ready, which is usually 12-24 hours after the concrete is poured. Although you may not want saw cuts, as they may take away from the natural look, they are absolutely necessary. Be sure to discuss the location of saw cuts with your contractor prior to pouring the concrete so that you are prepared once the process begins. Once the area is thoroughly cleaned, you will see the integral color with accents of the release color. However, final colors will not appear until the concrete is sealed and fully cured.
Sealing Stamped Concrete
It’s very important to discuss sealer options with your contractor. Butterfield Color® offers a premium line of curing and sealing products called Clear Guard® Cure & Seal. These products have become the chosen brand for decorative concrete applications. Understand that sealed surfaces may be slippery during application, prior to drying and when wet with water or liquids after drying. Use of a non-slip additive when sealing is recommended on exterior applications and a non-slip wax on interior applications. If you are looking for more of a matte finish, ask about Butterfield Color Flattening Paste.
Maintenance for Stamped Concrete
Maintaining your newly stamped concrete is important. Periodically inspect cured and sealed surfaces for wear or damage.
All concrete curing compounds will eventually exhibit the effects of weathering and traffic. For maximum coating life and performance, wipe up all chemical solvent or petroleum spills as soon as possible. Remove abrasive debris by sweeping or vacuuming. Do not drag, drop or place sharp edges on sealed surfaces.
Periodic washings with mild detergents will help maintain surface luster. Do not use solvent or acid-based cleaning materials for general cleaning. Hot car tires or turning tires while your car is standing may damage the sealer. Surfaces that will be subjected to car traffic, de-icing salts or chemical exposure may exhibit wear more quickly. In most cases stamped concrete does not need to be sealed every year. A build-up of seal can cause delamination issues, so be sure to discuss re-sealing with your contractor.