Stamped concrete is a beautifully custom designed product that is meant to last a lifetime once installed properly. Stamped concrete is considered to be an artistic art form of masonry that takes years to master. Unlike pavers or a bricks, which is quick to install and finish, stamped concrete is man made, measured and detailed differently for each project. This allows each client to have a unique and custom product. If the installer is trained properly, has the proper education and is willing to put in the time and effort required, the finished product can be so realistic to the naked eye. Though stamped concrete is artificial, it is not easily detectable..
At Sposato Masonry, we are often asked why our finished product looks so realistic compared to a lot of the other work out there. Mike Sposato is a certified concrete artisan. He has traveled all over the country attending training classes, and became certified to train others in the art of stamped concrete. He is usually present when the concrete is poured, then Mike himself does the final detailing to finish the work. He has the experience to manipulate concrete to make it look like real blue stone, brick, cobble stone or whatever the client may desire.
Another common question is the possibility of concrete cracking. Our concrete very rarely cracks. The reinforcement we put in our concrete will not let a wide crack occur. When you call for concrete, an industry standard mix is delivered. At Sposato Masonry, we have custom mix designs with our local ready mix companies and have additives added to create a more durable concrete. For example, the more water added to concrete, the weaker it becomes due to the water evaporating, which leaves small air voids in the concrete. For that reason, we add water reducers or plasticizers to our mixes to get the same workable concrete mix with less water. Also, depending on the durablity we need, we add 6x6 reinforcing steel mesh, 3/8 rebar, surface hardeners, and reinforcement fibers. Moreover, we also do not use the 3/8 stone concrete mix recommended for stamped concrete. We use ¾ size stone in our mixes which still give us a nice impression, but also creates a stronger concrete mix.
We do not only use 2x4s to flatten out our concrete, we have vibrating screeds that flatten it as well. The screed knocks down the stone and removes air, which makes the concrete more dense and durable. This also allows us more time to stamp and work the design into the concrete. After concrete is poured and stamped with a pattern, Mike spends his time detailing and staining the concrete to give it a realistic look.
After concrete is detailed, and both client and Mike are satisfied with the result, the concrete is sealed with 2 coats of Voc Compliant Acrylic Solvent Base Sealer. The sealer lasts usually about 3 to 5 years. After that time frame, concrete does not have to be resealed, it is only optional. The concrete will not fall apart or deteriorate if not retreated. The sealer works similary to how wax works on a car. When the sealer fades, the concrete will have dull appearance. When a new coat is applied, the colors will pop and look rich again. If you take care of the sealer it will last much longer. Click on the link below to understand how the sealer works and how to maintain your beautiful work:
How do I take care of my stamped concrete?
There is not much maintenance to your decorative concrete except for the protective clear coat on the surface. The clear coat applied is a solvent base acrylic sealer. The sealer gives a sacrificial surface to keep the concrete protected similar to the clear coat over the paint of your car .The sealer also creates what we call a “color pop” that darkens the concrete and gives it a wet look which brings out its color and beauty. The sealer is pretty much maintenance free except for the man made damages caused in the wintertime. The clear coat is also very durable and weather resistance similar to the clear coat on your car. The only exception is that the sealer is acrylic which is a plastic. To care for the sealer and not damage it, we ask you to treat it like you treat your car. Anything that you would not do in the winter time to clean the snow off your car you do not want to do on your decorative concrete.
For example, shoveling is fine as long as it is done with a plastic shovel. If there is a metal blade at the end of your shovel, either remove the metal strip or buy an all plastic shovel to use on your decorative concrete. Metal is harder then plastic and can rip off some of the sealer from the concrete surface.
Snow blowers can also cause issues if the spinning blades touch the concrete surface so please make sure your heights are properly adjusted. We have also seen snow blowers that have a metal bar dragging across the concrete. If that is the case, you must install a rubber padding to keep the sealer from getting damaged. As long as there are no metal objects touching the surface of the concrete, you should not have a problem using a snow blower.
Another major cause of damage is salt. It is not the chemical in the salt that affects the sealer; it’s more that it acts like sand paper so when you walk on it the sealer gets ripped off the concrete surface as well. You also do not want to use kitty litter, sand, or anything in a grainy form that will give a sandpaper effect if walked or driven over.
We recommend using liquid deicing, large calcium pellets or anything that will not give a sandpaper effect. Following these instructions and your sealer should last you around three years until recoating is required depending on wear and tear of the area where sealer was applied.
Call Sposato Masonry for any further questions or concerns.