What Is Stamped Concrete?

By: Mitch Ryan  | 
stamped concrete
Stamped concrete looks like other materials like brick, tile and wood. You can do it DIY, but it takes some skill. Ursula Page/Shutterstock

Stamped concrete is a form of decorative concrete that requires heavy stamps and texturizing mats that mimic the shapes and textures of other building materials like tile, wood planks and natural stone slabs.

Stamping concrete can be a long and labor-intensive process. Still, even with the extra steps, the average poured concrete cost can save you thousands of dollars to achieve a similar look to more expensive, premium building materials. Read on to learn how these DIY-friendly concrete stamp patterns can complement your existing landscape, add curb appeal to your outdoor spaces and improve your home value.


3 Places to Install Stamped Concrete

Stamped concrete can create a unique aesthetic for entry walkways, or you can use natural stamp textures to improve the walking surface of outdoor entertainment areas like a hot tub, pool or outdoor kitchen. Here are a few of the best places to install stamped concrete.

Garden Pathways

Use the concrete stamping process to complete your walkway paths around your backyard gardens or outline elements of your front yard for improved curb appeal. You can choose an intricate stamped concrete design that mimics the appearance of fractured earth, real stone and even wood for a durable, low-cost alternative.


Pool Decks

stamped concrete
Pools decks are perfect spots for stamped concrete.
Keith Muratori/Shutterstock

Stamped concrete pool decks can add an aesthetic appeal and improve structural stability for any hot tub or above-ground pool. These stamped concrete patios will protect your yard from damage due to heavy loads and provide a clean and comfortable walking surface for guests entering and exiting your swimming spaces. Ensure these areas are sealed regularly with a non-skid additive to protect your patio material from water damage and improve slip-resistance for added safety.

Outdoor Entertainment Areas

An outdoor kitchen, grill area, or fire pit are excellent areas for most homeowners to place decorative concrete slabs. Concrete is durable and heat-resistant, making it the ideal surface for reducing fire hazards around your home. Using a stamped overlay for your concrete deck, you can build a DIY project that protects your home from combustible cooking devices while crafting an eye-catching outdoor entertainment area for your friends and family to enjoy while they wait for their meals.


7 Steps to Build a DIY Stamped Concrete Patio

stamped concrete
Here a contractor uses a large stamping mat to create a pattern in wet concrete. Bobcat Beasley/Shutterstock

Stamping concrete may seem like a straightforward process, but you should learn several essential techniques before you start. Follow these simple steps to build your decorative concrete slab:

1. Prepare a Solid Foundation for Your Concrete Patio

The first step to pouring a concrete slab is to prepare the subgrade and subbase underneath your design footprint. The subgrade is the soil beneath; the subbase is typically a thin layer of compacted gravel or sediment above the ground. Remove existing concrete, large rocks and other objects that will get in the way.


Once the earth is cleared and compacted, ensure the soil condition is adequate to support the weight of your structure. Poor soil conditions will result in weaker structural integrity and multiple cracks, as you might see in old concrete structures. Pour your slab at least 4 inches (10 centimeters) deep, and add wire mesh or small rebar grids to improve the patio's strength and longevity.

2. Lay Out the Shape of Your Patio Design

Envision your patio's shape and place board forms around the structure's perimeter. Use angled stakes and kicker boards to secure the forms in place. Use string lines and levels to ensure your forms remain in straight lines at the correct elevation above the subbase. Use thin, flexible materials for curved paths and more support stakes to maintain the shape as the poured concrete pushes against the forms. Verify all measurements and calculate the square footage of your project. Multiply this figure by the path or patio height to calculate the concrete volume required to complete the task.

3. Collect all Tools and Materials

Typical concrete projects require essential tools like floats, trowels, hammers, impact drivers, tape measures and levels; however, you'll need to collect enough texture mats to stamp concrete before the slab dries. You'll also need to rent a concrete mixer to prep large quantities of concrete or call one of your local concrete companies to deliver a ready-mix truck and pour concrete directly to the project location. If you choose the latter, ensure you plan an adequate route for the truck and its attached chute or hose to avoid logistical issues during the pour. Otherwise, you or the finishing crew you hire will be exhausted after running back and forth with heavy wheelbarrows full of concrete.

4. Add Color Additives to the Concrete Mix

You can choose from multiple colors of concrete additives to match the perfect shade for your project. Add these colors to the mixture before pouring (integral coloring) or as a topical color hardener (broadcast coloring).

5. Pour and Finish the Concrete Slab

Pour an even concrete flow up to the elevation marks on the inside of your forms. Use trowels and floats to distribute excess concrete or "mud" to shallow areas. Use these tools to smooth the top surface of the concrete to create an even walking surface for your patio devoid of air bubbles, lumps and larger sediment.

6. Apply Concrete Stamps or Texture Mats

Apply a color-releasing agent to the textured side of your stamping mats to reduce the risk of them sticking to the uncured concrete once the concrete slab dries. Then, carefully lay out your stamps to match your intended design. This step is crucial since a misplaced stamp could ruin your design, and you will need to quickly re-finish the slab to a smooth surface before it hardens.

7. Cure, Wash and Seal the Stamped Concrete Slab

Once the slab is complete and all stamps are in place, wait at least 24 hours before removing the mats. Use a pressure washer to rinse off the color-releasing agent residue and seal the slab with a non-slip sealer. This sealant will protect your new patio against moisture, UV rays, and natural wear and tear from foot traffic while requiring less maintenance and upkeep of the concrete surface throughout the year.

Stamped concrete
Sealing your concrete stamped slab or patio is one of the last steps in the installation project.
Kritsaroot Udkwae/Shutterstock


Are Stamped Concrete Patios Expensive?

The average concrete cost in the United States can range between $110 to $165 per cubic yard. Stamped concrete prices will vary, but you can expect them to be more expensive than traditional concrete projects when you account for additional materials or professional stamped concrete installation costs.

The stamped concrete design is also vital in the total project cost. For instance, a basic design, such as a square or rectangle, will require fewer steps and specialty stamps than a complex design, like a curved pathway or pool deck with complex arcs, expansion joints and elevation changes.


For these more complex projects, hiring professionals to ensure the entire concrete slab is properly installed may be more cost-effective. The added labor costs may be worth the time, effort and stress of attempting projects beyond your skill set.

3 Components of a Stamped Concrete Cost Budget

Stamped concrete is a relatively low-cost, low-maintenance material compared to other paving materials. Still, it can quickly get expensive when you account for material prices, tool rentals and potential labor costs. Consider these variables of stamped concrete patio cost before you begin your project:

1. Labor Costs

You can save on your project budget by doing the work yourself, but several designs may require the skills of a trained professional. The age-old saying "time is money" rings especially true in the construction industry, where sharp learning curves can result in costly mistakes.


You may feel that contractors may not be worth the extra premium, but you must also consider how much you value your time. Begin with smaller, simple projects to hone your concrete finishing skills, but it may be wise to leave large-scale projects to trained professionals.

2. Materials

Concrete cost is calculated in cubic yards, and concrete stamps are per square foot. You must also plan for form-building materials, vapor barrier and various reinforcement materials like rebar or wire mesh.

3. Tools

Aside from standard household tools, trowels, floats and concrete stamps are essential for completing a stamped concrete patio project. Other large equipment rentals like concrete mixers or gravel compactors can also add considerable expense to your final budget.