Stamping is a unique finishing technique for concrete that gives personality to what might otherwise be a a plain patio, porch or other surface. You can do as little or as much stamping as you like, from creating just a border design to a complete faux-tiling job. There are some problems that may arise when stamping concrete, including the concrete being either too wet or dry to use.
Stamping is a finish that can only be applied to concrete that is still slightly damp. Yet many homeowners purchase a home with a concrete surface that they would like to stamp that is already completely finished and was cured, or dried, long beforehand. A thin surface coat of new concrete, often called a skim coat, can be applied to the surface of the old concrete. The new concrete may then be stamped to give the old concrete a new look.
Just as concrete can be too dry to stamp, it can also be too wet. Many inexperienced homeowners attempt to stamp concrete just after it is poured and leveled. The surface of the concrete must be worked with a trowel to release as much moisture as possible, preventing this water from being trapped in the center and allowing it to evaporate. The concrete must then sit for approximately three hours, giving it time to "set up". You should test the concrete by poking it with a finger. If the hole remains and does not fill itself, the concrete is ready to be smoothed a final time and stamped.
Ordinary craft stamps are available everywhere from supermarts to specialized hobby stores. A homeowner who has not properly researched concrete stamping may grab some of these stamps without thinking twice. But they will not work, and using them will yield a disappointing result. Concrete stamps are much different from regular stamps. They are generally larger and the design face is much deeper. Concrete stamps can be found at most home improvement stores.
Most people have played with craft stamps, ink and paper. This type of stamping is hard to do incorrectly and hardly requires consideration of technique. For this reason, a homeowner may jump into concrete stamping head-first, using the same procedure that they would utilize to stamp paper. However, it is important to lower concrete stamps straight down and lift them very straight and evenly. And, in opposition to the firm pressure that paper stamping requires, concrete stamping calls for quite a light hand.
Lack of Sealer
No matter what finish is chosen, completed concrete surfaces must be sealed with concrete or masonry sealer. This protects the concrete from cracks, crumbling, and other damage and also ensures that all of your hard work does not go to waste.