If you’re on a budget, a stamped concrete patio is affordable way to get the look of natural slate or limestone. It could also be made to mimic cobblestones, weathered wood, cracked earth and brick. The best part is that stamped concrete requires little maintenance since there is no grout that will get discolored or open up to let in grass and weed.
Stamped concrete is essentially a slab of concrete that has been embossed or textured. Usually completely by a contractor, the process involves:
- Pouring and smoothing the concrete
- Pressing a pattern into the surface before the concrete dries
- Adding color after the surface has been stamped. Some contractors add color to the concrete during the mixing stage.
Note: You should only hire a contractor who can provide examples of previous work.
Should You Do It Yourself?
Although you’ll want to enhance the look of your patio at the lowest possible cost, you should not attempt to do a stamped concrete patio yourself unless you’ve done it before. The process is quite simple, but since concrete is a complex medium to work with, you should get professional help if you want it done right. Some of the difficult parts of the process include:
- Installation of the concrete base, which must be level and smooth.
- Moving of the heavy concrete from one place to another.
- Using specialty tools to shape and smooth the surface
- Applying the stamps quickly before the concrete hardens
Keep in mind that concrete is permanent once it hardens. It’s possible to rent the concrete stamps, and even at a cost of $25 per stamp per day, you could save as much as 50 percent on the cost of professional installation. But keep in mind that you should have some knowledge of the process before you attempt to do it on your own.