There are many design options to choose from when it comes to concrete forms. Stamping concrete is a fairly easy project that can give a unique look to your patio, front entry area, walkways, or any other section of your home where you want to install it. It is also a more cost-effective alternative to hiring a masonry contractor, since the project requires uncomplicated tools and equipment that can be bought or rented from your local concrete supplier and/or hardware store.
1. Create Your Own Design
Narrowing down your choices for the exact color scheme and pattern you like the best for your stamped concrete forms can seem daunting because of so many possibilities. Stamped concrete will last for possibly decades and will be a prominent feature of your home, so it is important to decide on a design that is harmonious with the rest of the architecture.
Look at your home's architecture and colors for inspiration, and note the colors and tones of the roof, side paneling, doors, and other structures. Also try visiting local showrooms of decorative masonry contractors and look at examples of their work for ideas and inspiration.
2. Choose and Apply Release Agent
You will need a concrete release agent that will keep your concrete stamp mats from sticking to the concrete slabs themselves. This agent comes in a powdered form and may be in different colors, depending on your personal preference. Be sure to choose one that complements the color of your concrete because a thin coat of release agent will stay on the concrete surface and alter its final color.
Pour a fresh slab of concrete and immediately apply the release agent over the top; be careful not to spread it too thick, otherwise the stamp will not come through completely and the design will not transfer correctly. It is advised to use a concrete mix that includes finer sand, as this will result in a smoother texture that is easier to stamp.
3. Stamp Your Slabs
Press your concrete stamp mats to the wet concrete in smaller sections, especially if you are a beginner at this DIY project. Work quickly and use firm pressure in order to get a clean design before the concrete moves too much into the curing stage. Be sure to line up straight edges if there are any, and do not push down too hard on the stamp mat.
Wait 24 hours for the stamps to set, then carefully remove them. The concrete should not be completely hardened, but it should be cured enough to cleanly lift off the mats. Wash off any excess residue from the powdered release agent with a high setting on your garden hose nozzle. If you have stamped a large area of concrete, it is a good idea to rent a power washer from a hardware store.
Give your newly stamped concrete enough time to completely cure, according to the concrete manufacturer's instructions. Then apply a coat of concrete sealer to the surface of your stamped design and allow this to completely dry overnight. This will ensure your concrete slabs will stand up to rain, wind, and other elements.