When people think of concrete, they often think of a gray, industrial-warehouse look. However, with techniques like stamping, inlaying and staining, the possibilities for decorative concrete are really quite broad. From showroom floors to patios and even home flooring, concrete is not only durable but attractive.
Stamping a texture into the surface of concrete can go a long way towards making it more attractive. Stamped concrete can mimic many different materials; a flat concrete patio could be stamped with both the texture of natural stone and the grid that would make the surface look like separate pavers.
Combined with staining, concrete can take on the appearance of many different materials. In addition to natural rock, it's possible to get faux brick, cobblestone, slate, or even wood flooring. Complicated patterns can be stamped in as well, giving the appearance of stone mosaic or intricate bricklaying.
Custom inlaying gives a unique and personalized look to a concrete surface. In custom inlaying, objects or designs are embedded in the surface of the concrete. The concrete is then sealed, leaving a hard, flat finish.
When considering inlaying, you have a wide range of options. Some of the most common include pieces of glass, tile, or stone. Irregular shards can make for an interesting, asymmetrical look, while regular pieces can create a mosaic effect. Laser-cut metal can be embedded for intricate designs such as logos or initials. Even heirlooms or antiques can be embedded as long as they are durable – for instance, old coins or metal tools.
Staining is often combined with other decorative techniques, as in the faux materials that stamping can create. However, staining also has the advantage of working on existing concrete surfaces without the need for adding a new layer of concrete on top – the concrete just needs to be thoroughly cleaned and any sealant stripped off. By mixing colors and keeping the staining purposefully irregular, it's even possible to create the appearance of expensive marble flooring through stained concrete.
Acid stains are also a particularly long-lasting way to color concrete because they penetrate the surface of the material rather than simply adhering to the top. Concrete is a durable material and is often installed in the hope that the surface will last a long time with minimal maintenance. So it makes perfect sense to color it with a method that won't chip or flake away over time.
Whether used separately or together, these decorative techniques can make concrete beautiful. Add that to concrete's low cost, low maintenance, and resistance to the elements, and you can see why concrete is such a popular building material. For more information, talk to a professional like Southwest Coating Solutions.