Pros & Cons of Stamped Concrete Surfaces | Homeowner’s Guide

December 1, 2021

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Did you know that your neighbor’s stunning stone patio or beautiful walkway might be stamped concrete and not real slate, brick, or flagstone? Many exterior surfaces that look like brick, clay pavers, wood, or solid stone are actually stamped and stained concrete, designed to closely resemble high-end materials but without the same expensive price tag.

Stamped concrete is a very durable material and more affordable than high-end stone and other materials. Concrete is also eco-friendly and easy to clean. However, stamped and stained concrete might need specialty repairs, to preserve its overall appearance.

Stamped and stained concrete is hard to beat when it comes to versatility, durability, and price. The material allows you to create a stunning outdoor surface for far less cost than if you chose solid stone or even brick.

stamped concrete patio

Since poured and stained concrete does have some drawbacks, you might note a few added details about this material and its overall application. You can then discuss this option with a concrete installer near you, and know you’ll be happy with your property’s outdoor surfaces for years to come.

Stamped and Stained Concrete Explained

Stamped and stained concrete starts with a standard concrete installation. The material is then stamped with specialty forms that create the shape and surface texture of stone, brick, wood, and other such materials.

Stain is also added, to create the color of your chosen material. The end result is a surface that mimics flagstone, brick, clay pavers, and even wood! You might have even seen stamped concrete walkways, driveways, and patios around your neighborhood but assumed those areas were paved with stone or other high-end materials rather than concrete.

The Pros and Cons of Stamped Concrete Surfaces

Note some pros and cons of stamped and stained concrete surfaces in more detail, so you can determine if this is the right choice for your property’s exterior spaces. First, consider the advantages of poured concrete:

  • One reason many property owners choose stamped concrete over other materials is the price! As an example, the concrete installation might average around $18 per square foot. Slate, flagstone, and other high-end stones can cost over $20 and even up to $300 per square foot!
  • Concrete is easy to pour into just about any design, allowing you to create curved walkways or rounded patio edges and driveways easily. Cutting stone, brick, and other materials to fit these patterns is often cumbersome and can increase your installation costs substantially.
  • Concrete installers typically offer far more designs than if you chose natural stone, brick, or pavers. You also have greater control over the size of individual stamps, ensuring a pattern you’ll love.
  • Poured concrete is very durable and less likely to crack than brittle stone. Individual bricks and patio pavers also tend to lack the same strength as large concrete installations.
  • Brick, loose stone, river rock, and gravel also tend to loosen over the years, even flying out from underneath vehicle tires. This means a costly replacement for those stones and expensive property damage.
  • Concrete is very eco-friendly, made from abundant materials that are harvested easily. Unwanted concrete is also easy to recycle. Harvesting stone can require blasting and copious amounts of water, making it a less eco-friendly choice.
  • Choosing a stain color for your poured concrete allows you greater control over the end result, ensuring you’ll end up with a color and tone you’ll appreciate.
  • Slip-resistant coatings offer added traction versus stone and patio pavers, for a safer surface underfoot.

finished stamped concrete

While concrete is an excellent choice for outdoor surfaces, it’s not without flaws! Note some drawbacks of poured and stained concrete for your property:

  • Pouring concrete is not a DIY project. While installing stone or brick is more complicated than homeowners often realize, it can be done yourself with specialty tools and a few hours of work. Stamped and stained concrete installation, however, requires a specialty installer.
  • It’s especially vital that you avoid scraping stamped and stained concrete with snowplow blades, shovels, and other tools, so you don’t damage the color and finish.
  • Concrete needs regular sealing and power washing, to remove abrasive grit and grime and to keep it protected from damage.
  • Damage to stained concrete including large cracks and chips typically needs repairs by a specialty contractor, to restore its appearance.

Your concrete installer can also offer some considerations to keep in mind when it comes to stamped and stained concrete for your property.

Is Stamped Concrete Worth It?

pool with stamped concrete

If you’re wondering if a new patio is worth the expense of stamped concrete, note that outdoor space is not only enjoyable for your family but it might even increase your home’s value! A dedicated patio where you can cook, entertain, and just relax increases your home’s living space and improves the look of your backyard or side yard instantly.

Stamped concrete is definitely worth the cost for other surfaces and areas around your home as well. A stamped cement driveway increases curb appeal and give your property an upscale look, while stamped sidewalks can create a homey, cozy look.

Concrete with a slip-resistant coating is also an excellent choice for pool decks, walkways, and driveways. These coatings reduce the risk of slip and fall accidents or vehicle collisions on your property, while still offering a stunning finish you’ll love!

Does Stamping Concrete Weaken It?

Stamped concrete is sometimes weaker than standard concrete and other surfaces, and isn’t always rated for heavy vehicle traffic. If you’re looking to have a stamped and stained concrete driveway, ensure you discuss your options with an installer and know the thickness and mixture needed for your vehicles.

For other applications, stamped concrete provides a durable surface for patios, pool decks, walkways, and even privacy walls! With regular sealing and other maintenance, it should be just as durable as stone, brick, and gravel.

Also, some stamped concrete is treated with a color hardener, to protect the stain or paint color. This color hardener provides added protection against damage due to weather, harsh sunlight, and other damaging elements.

How Well Does Stamped Concrete Hold Up?

High-quality stamped concrete mixtures, installed by experienced pros, should last as long as standard concrete. To ensure its longevity, have the concrete sealed every year or two, or as often as recommended by your installer.

It’s also vital that you avoid damaging concrete with snow shovels, snowplow blades, and other harsh tools. Snow salt also breaks down concrete, so use sand or another non-corrosive treatment in wintertime, as needed.

Cracks should also be repaired immediately, to keep them from getting larger and letting moisture seep into the material. Use a crack patching compound recommended by your installer at the first sign of concrete damage, to keep the material in good condition over the years.

Cost of Stamped Concrete

finished stamped concrete

Stamped concrete costs as low as $5 per square foot and up to $18 per square foot, on average. Your price will depend on the concrete thickness you need for your property if you prefer an intricate design such as a curved walkway, and the amount of stamping needed for your chosen design.

Note that concrete is one of the more affordable options for an outdoor space; brick patio pavers, for example, might start at $10 per square foot, while flagstone usually averages around $20 per square foot. Flagstone and clay pavers might average around $21 or more per square foot.

Tips on Maintenance

To maintain your stamped concrete installation, start with regular cleaning. An outdoor broom is excellent for removing dust, dirt, sand, silt, and other debris regularly. Sweep off this debris as needed; properties near the beach, for example, might need frequent sweeping, to remove sand and silt.

Soft wash power washing is also vital for maintaining stamped and stained concrete. Standard high-pressure washing is often damaging to surfaces, including cement, while soft wash cleansers gently dissolve thick dirt and grime as well as corrosive motor oil and other debris. A low-pressure rinse then washes away those residues, protecting concrete against damage.

Timely crack patching is also vital, as said. Concrete cracks not only spread but also create gaps that allow moisture, dirt, corrosive fluids, and other debris to settle into the pavement. This results in even greater damage the longer you ignore those cracks and crevices!

Scheduling regular sealing is also the best choice for ensuring concrete stays in tip-top shape. Sealing blocks out moisture and harsh sunlight, while also helping to keep your stain or paint colors fresh and vibrant!

Cracking Concrete

stamped concrete path

There are a few reasons why any concrete might crack, and understanding those reasons can help you better maintain your stamped cement and help prevent future damage.

  • Concrete expands as it absorbs moisture. A concrete installer should create expansion joints in slabs; these trenches give slabs room to expand without pushing on each other. If an installer fails to create enough expansion joints, the concrete will be prone to persistent cracking.
  • Motor oil and other automotive fluids, snow salt, fertilizers, and other lawn care chemicals, and even air pollution and soot dry out concrete, risking premature cracking. If you’ve applied salt during wintertime or blow grass clippings onto concrete in the summertime, that surface is likely to crack!
  • Excessive weight on concrete risks premature cracking. Never park an ATV or other vehicle on a stamped concrete patio, for example.
  • Poured concrete needs proper support underneath it or it will sink and then crack. Ensure you hire a quality installer who will apply gravel or another base before pouring the concrete, and that your property’s soil is graded properly, preventing moisture from building up under that surface.
  • Never underestimate the importance of proper sealing! Neglecting needed sealing exposes concrete to the elements and risks premature cracking and other damage.

Stamped Concrete vs. Pavers and Other Materials

With all this information in mind, you might consider some final details about stamped concrete vs. pavers, flagstone, and other materials. Check out some reasons why stamped concrete is quickly becoming a favorite choice for homeowners today!

  • Concrete is easy to pour in just about any shape, including curves! It’s easier to design a walkway around a tree or to create a stately curved driveway with poured concrete than with cut stone or pavers.
  • Stained concrete allows you to choose a precise pavement color. You won’t need to worry if your new patio will match your home’s exterior walls or outdoor furniture when you choose poured concrete.
  • A concrete installer can create fire pits, walls, and other features as well as patios and walkways. Your outdoor spaces and features will then coordinate with your home’s overall style as well as each other!
  • Harvesting stone often involves lots of blasting and other damaging processes. Concrete, however, is made from easily harvested, abundant materials including sand and gravel.
  • Smooth clay pavers might become slick especially when wet. Concrete typically offers added traction underfoot than many other materials, for a safer property overall.
  • It’s easy for weeds to grow through the gaps between natural stone and paver installation. Since the stamps used for stained concrete don’t create those gaps, there is less risk of weed growth along your patio, walkways, and other surfaces.

Along with all these advantages, consider the affordability of stamped and stained poured concrete. You can finally enjoy a spacious patio or stunning walkway on your property, or add a beautiful security wall that looks anything but dull and drab with poured concrete! Whatever your preferences for your property, you can achieve something you’ll love when you choose stamped concrete versus pavers, flagstone, brick, and other materials.

pouring stamped concrete

Baton Rouge Stamped Concrete & Decorative Designs is happy to provide this information to our readers and hopefully it helped you see the pros and cons of stamped concrete for your property. If you’re ready to create a stunning patio or pool deck, or a beautiful walkway around your home, call our experienced Baton Rouge stamped concrete contractors. We offer a wide range of design options and guarantee quality installations that last. To get started with your FREE design consultation and price quote, just give us a call today!

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