Stained ConcreteProbably one of the most well-known techniques for transforming plain concrete to be more design-friendly is staining, especially for interior applications. There are two main types of concrete stain. The most common type of concrete stain is an acid stain. The acid reacts to the concrete and takes on its own life. The result is a marbleized coloring, much like grainy leather. This stain does not cover defects in the concrete. However, this character that the acid stain reveals is part of the allure of the finished product of an acid stain job. Water-based concrete stains and acrylic concrete stains create a much more uniform look than do acid stains. It is a better alternative than acid stain for concrete pads that have cosmetic defects because coverage is fairly consistent. It is often used to accent the work of an acid stain job by giving certain areas of the concrete a different color. This makes predicting the outcome much easier. It also allows for easier mixing at the jobsite to match other colors around. After the stain job is complete, it is recommended to put some sort of protective coating on the surface. For outdoor applications, a concrete sealer is recommended. A solvent sealer or xylene-based sealer will leave a durable, semi-gloss coat, whereas a water-based sealer will leave a matte finish. Stains do not hide defects in the concrete, nor do they change the texture of the concrete. There are many tools and techniques that expand design options when using concrete stain. Also, scored lines are also commonly used to add a pattern or design into the concrete. Stain can also be used in conjunction with stamped concrete to add accent coloring. Of course, the greatest advantage of stained concrete is the visual appeal. Staining concrete allows you to turn a functional element into a design element. It may require a new coat of sealer or wax occasionally to maintain the finish. Stamped ConcreteStamped concrete is another common technique of decorative concrete. That being said, stamped concrete requires that new concrete is poured. This isn’t to say that you can’t add a stamped pattern or texture to your existing patio, it just requires a few intermediate steps. However, this plastic-cement polymer does have a shorter life-span than does concrete. There are limitations to capping your patio with concrete or overlaying it. Capping or overlaying your concrete will effectively hide any stains and minor defects in the concrete, though. The process involves pouring concrete much like you would do for ordinary flatwork. The area is framed up, reinforced with rebar, and smoothed out. In order to stamp, the concrete must be dry enough to not be mushy but wet enough to still hold an impression. The timing is perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of stamping. At this point, large rubber stamps are pounded into the concrete, many times with a tool called a tamper. Some sort of release product is used to keep the stamps from sticking. The coloring of stamped concrete can be achieved in many different ways. Integral colors come in both liquid and powder form. The advantage of integral color is that the color is all the way through the concrete, so if the concrete is ever chipped or scarred, the color will be consistent throughout the slab. Its functional aspect is that it keeps the stamps from sticking to the concrete. Some release colors also come in a liquid form. Color hardeners are usually a powder and come in a wide variety of colors. Some manufacturers make tinted sealers, or you can simply make them yourself, which is usually a good way to go if you are wanting to mix colors or play with transparency. Tinted sealers also come in a wide variety of color options, especially if you will be making it yourself. Contractors may also use the technique that is most familiar to them, leaving the others behind. advantages of stamped concrete. For the sake of accuracy, this paragraph does not take into account any overlay products because these products do not carry all of the same advantages that concrete does. Also, it is easy to maintain. The sealer allows cleaning to be as easy as rinsing or sweeping. Finally, stamped concrete is aesthetically pleasing. It is completely customizable with a wide variety of color combinations and stamp patterns. And, considering how long it will last and how easy it is to maintain, it is a low cost in the long run for a beautiful finish. Scored ConcreteScored concrete is a great way to give both new pours and existing pour a new look. Scoring concrete is essentially cutting a shallow cut into the concrete. These cuts can be used to create the illusion of tile or stone or to “draw” a custom pattern or logo into the concrete. Because these lines are actually cut into the concrete, they are as permanent as the slab itself unless covered. Scoring is often combined with colored or stained concrete to accentuate the surface pattern. It can also be applied to plain concrete to just add a touch of decorative design to an otherwise humdrum slab. Concrete can be scored with many different tools, but the most common tools are concrete saws and grinders. Many times a diamond blade is used. advantages of scored concrete. Finally, the biggest advantage of scored concrete is that it is completely custom. Polished ConcretePolished concrete is, just as it sounds, a concrete slab that is polished down until a shiny finish is achieved. These smooth, high-luster floors, if done correctly, do not require any wax or sealer, making it a great option for warehouses, retail locations, etc. You start with a rough pad and grind into the concrete. Usually, there will be exposed aggregate, making it a neat look. Polished concrete can be stained for some extra color. It is also very low maintenance because wax or sealer may not be necessary. Sometimes, if the floor loses its luster, it may be necessary to re-polish the floor, repeating the last steps of the polishing process. Colors can be added for a different look, and even special aggregates can be added, aggregates that are only exposed because of the polishing process. Sealing ConcreteAll architectural concrete, except polished concrete and interior stained concrete, should be sealed regularly to maintain its beauty and durability. This process can be outsourced to a concrete company, or it can be a great do-it-yourself project. Some sealers are even mop-on. Many times, freshly sealed concrete can be described as making the concrete look wet. Sealing concrete will not cover any existing flaws in the slab. Stains will likely be accentuated by the sealant, and scratches or cracks will only be covered with a clear coat. Tinted sealers, as discussed above, can be used to add some color to a slab, whether it is plain or decorative. Much like tile, flagstone and natural stone usually requires a concrete base and grout for a semi-permanent slab, which means it comes with the same disadvantages as tile. Plus, you are limited to what mother nature makes, versus picking your own colors with concrete. Although beautiful, wood is not the easiest to maintain Plus, unless it is taken from sustainable forests, can have negative effects on the forest and wildlife therein. Carpet’s main disadvantage is that it easily stains. Even stain resistant carpet is much more likely to stain than sealed , waxed, or polished concrete. Plus, the manufacturing process is not always best for the environment, the chemicals it emits into the home can be harmful, and it retains allergens and pollutants, causing issues for those with breathing problems and allergies.