Imprinted Concrete Decorative and Functional

Imprinted concrete is decorative as well as functional and durable.  It can be used for walls, floors, countertops, patios, driveways, walkways and indoor or outdoor furnishings.  

The look resembles that of polished stone, but costs a great deal less.  Pigments including black, yellow and red can be mixed with the cement and sand to create long-lasting colors.  

Earth tones including green can be created with synthetic pigments.  Synthetics are the pigments of choice, because some of the natural compounds used for coloring cement are hazardous heavy metals.  

For example, the heavy metal chromium has been used to create green.  During cutting, grinding or polishing, the compound can be released into the air causing severe respiratory problems and damaging the environment.

Rubber stamps are sometimes used in the imprinting process.  Stone, brick or wood may be embedded in the rubber to create a natural looking texture.  Everything from simple tiled pattern to jumping dolphins can be created using the stamps.    

The stamps are pressed into wet cement slabs.  Liquid or powder releasing agents prevent the rubber from sticking to the slab.

Polyurethane form liners are sometimes used.  Imprinted concrete made in this way can be seen in projects around the world.  They are particularly common in bridges and exterior walls.  

The form liner process is similar to rubber stamping, but can be used for larger projects.  When the cement dries, the liner is stripped away and the concrete will be permanently textured with the pattern on the liner.

Stamped or imprinted concrete is created before the cement dries.  Some designs are created after the cement hardens.

Grinders and cutters equipped with diamond blades are used to engrave the concrete.  Many common surface patterns can be created in this way.  Cobblestone is a popular pattern choice for driveways and walks.  Patterns that resemble ceramic tile are popular for patios and interior floors.

It is often impossible to tell the difference between the “real thing” and the cement copy.  This is especially true when the pattern chosen is meant to look like ceramic tile or flagstone.

Acid stains can be applied to the surface to create a natural stone coloring.  A clear epoxy coating is applied over the stain to seal and protect it.  Colored epoxies can also be used.

For a glassy or high gloss finish, rotating diamond pads are used.  These pads effectively polish the concrete until it shines.

Imprinted concrete might be the right choice for your next project.  Consult paving experts like Paving Designs UK to be sure.