Stamped concrete comes in a range of design options.
This material is less expensive than other flooring choices.
Stamped concrete should be sealed every 2–3 years.
Quicker to install than pavers or natural stone, stamped concrete is a popular option for those looking to achieve a specific pattern or color on their patio flooring while reaping the benefits of durable, affordable concrete.
No two stamped concrete patios are the same, so you can flex some design flair while maintaining your budget. Read on to learn the pros and cons of stamped concrete and why (or why not) it might be right for your home.
What Is Stamped Concrete?
Stamped concrete is concrete with decorative elements, such as different patterns and colors. These patterns are created with polyurethane, a plastic material, and cut into 2-by-2 foot square stamps about an inch thick. They get pressed into the wet concrete to make the desired finish of your patio.
While it has its various pros and cons, stamped concrete is manufactured to satisfy those who need the long-lasting durability of concrete but wish for something more exciting than plain gray slabs. Stamped concrete designs range from very basic to more elaborate styles, often imitating the look of marble, other natural stone, or even wood.
Contact a local stamped concrete contractor to help you choose one that works for your home.
Pros of Stamped Concrete
From ease of installation to the range of design options available, there are several pros to installing stamped concrete on your patio. Read on to learn the biggest benefits.
Many Design Options
The sky's the limit with stamped concrete. You can choose textures that look like limestone, granite, or other natural stone at half the price, or opt for certain colors like brick red or slate green. The range of selections offered by stamped concrete can open up the design options for your home.
Easy to Install
Unlike bricks and tiles, stamped concrete patios are easy to install. When you use tiles, bricks, or stones, you need to cut them individually ahead of time and lay them in the base concrete, driving up labor costs.
But rather than adding bricks and tiles, with a stamped patio, you’re instead modifying the base concrete using stamps. This lets the local stamped patio company you hire work relatively quickly, only needing two to three days to finish. Compare that to other patios, which can take upwards of a week to two weeks. Also, handy homeowners can DIY concrete stamping to save some money.
Stamped concrete patios cost around $2,300 to $3,500 for a standard 288-square-foot patio. You’ll find the cost of your new patio gets added to the value of your home. Come time to sell, future buyers tend to enjoy a place to sit and relax in their backyard.
You’ll typically recuperate the installation costs, but the cost of maintaining and cleaning your patio may cut into your ROI.
On average, you’ll likely pay around $8 to $12 per square foot for the full stamped concrete patio process, including installation. Other patio materials often offer a lower cost but have much higher installation costs.
So whereas bricks may only cost around $4 to $8 per square foot, this doesn’t include the $5 to $15 per square foot that you’re looking at paying in installation costs.
Maintenance costs tend to stay minimal in the event that cracking happens. Unlike bricks or tiles, where you’ll need to order a specific shape to replace the one that broke, you can always mix a little to fill in the cracks since you’re only working with concrete.
Stamped concrete is simple to maintain, and it tends to last a long time. Cracking will happen no matter what steps you take to prevent it, but you’ll find small imperfections are easy to fix.
The average lifespan of a stamped concrete patio is 25 years. Concrete has the potential of being stronger than bricks, so long as the concrete mix has a one-to-one ratio of cement to sand. This means it might last against erosion longer than other patios.
Cons of Stamped Concrete
Nothing is without its cons. Stamped concrete might not be the best choice if you need an accessible surface for you or your family, or don’t want to deal with cracking.
Depressions Might Prevent Accessibility
Some of the deeply embossed patterns might create an uneven surface that makes furniture wobble and could be hazardous for those in a wheelchair or with limited mobility. Prevent this issue by choosing a smooth pattern, with ridges and bumps no more than one-quarter of an inch in height.
Colors May Fade
The sun’s rays can cause the dyes of surface colorants to fade over time. You can see about having your concrete dyed when it’s being mixed to prevent this.
Susceptible to Cracking
The most common problem with concrete is cracking. It’s a durable material, but suffers in extreme weather; moisture from ice and snow can seep into the tiniest of cracks, expanding as temperatures drop, causing a small crack to become a much larger one. You can seal your concrete every two to three years to try and prevent this, but the reality is it is likely inevitable.
When your stamped concrete becomes cracked, a local concrete contractor will need to patch up the area. With patch-ups, it’s often difficult to match the color of the repaired area to the original.
There Are More Durable Options
Stamped concrete is durable, with a lifespan of about 50 years, but it still doesn’t beat cobblestones (which can last 75 years) or gravel (which can last a century).
How to Maintain Your Stamped Concrete Patio
Once you’ve considered the pros and cons of a stamped concrete patio, you’ll also want to know how to maintain it so it keeps its luster and longevity.
Always check for any weeds starting to “spring” up (though they may also appear in summer and fall). Their roots can damage the concrete and lead to cracking faster.
Sweep off any dirt and grime you find building up before it gets rained on and stains the concrete.
Scrub any stains away with a stiff-bristled brush using dishwashing soap and water.
You can try power washing your patio, but you’ll want to make sure that you don’t ruin your stamped pieces. Use a lower pressure setting or avoid the stamped pieces entirely to preserve them.
Use sand rather than salt on your stamped concrete to eliminate snow and ice. Sand doesn’t tend to erode and crack concrete as fast as salt does.
Seal your patio once every two to three years so Mother Nature won’t wash away the colors of the stamped pieces.