What are My Options?
There are 3 main ways to decorate concrete – stamping, staining and coloring. They are discussed in detail below:
- Concrete Staining: Transforming a dull grey concrete slab into a rich, warm and beautiful work of art is possible using acid, water or solvent-based stains. Acid-based stains etch the concrete to allow metallic salts to penetrate the concrete and permanently stain it. The metallic salts react with the acid to change the color (colors are typically limited to soft brown, light-red, and light-blue earth tones using acids) of the concrete throughout the entire slab, meaning chipped or cracked concrete does not reveal the original gray. Using water or solvent-based stains allows for more color customization. The acid and salts react with differing amounts of hydrated lime in the concrete, resulting in unique color variations within the concrete.
- Concrete Coloring: You may think that this is a duplication of concrete staining, and it is very similar except for two key differences – the application and the outcome. While staining a concrete product is completed after the concrete has dried and cured, coloring concrete is done by adding a pigment to the concrete as it is being poured. And, unlike staining, there is no variation throughout the concrete – it tends to be much more uniform in color.
- Concrete Stamping: This is a process in which concrete is made to mimic other products such as natural slate, brick, bluestone or flagstone. The stamping creates the shape and texture of the product being mimicked, while pigments added during the pouring give the concrete the color to finish the process. Concrete stamping is typically used in outdoor patios or walkways.
Scoring and/or engraving concrete is also possible using saw cuts or hand chisels to further decorate a stamped, stained or colored concrete slab.
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Where Should I Use Decorative Concrete?
Most people utilize decorative concrete in one of several ways, including:
- Bathrooms, kitchens, and hallways (the use of radiant heat makes concrete more comfortable underfoot)
Decorative Concrete Costs
The following prices are based on national averages; as such, expect actual costs to vary slightly due to your exact location.
- Concrete staining typically costs $2-$5 per square foot for a single color and design. A more complex design with multiple colors and scoring using saw cuts (useful to separate colors and unique shapes or designs) can raise costs as high as $10 per square foot. Keep in mind that staining is done after the concrete has cured, so these prices do not include the purchase, delivery and pouring of concrete. They are for existing concrete only.
- Coloring concrete costs $5-$8 per square foot, including the purchase, delivery and pouring of the concrete. Any additional decoration using engraving or scoring techniques will dramatically increase costs.
- Concrete stamping will cost $8-$15 per square foot, including the concrete and pouring. A simple pattern will cost much less than an elaborate one with different size stamps.