Even if you've never had the chance to leave your handprint or carve your initials into freshly smoothed concrete, you've certainly seen where other people have. In school sidewalks or playground walkways across the nation, children's handprints greet you from concrete surfaces. For Mother's or Father's Day, handprints pressed into concrete are always popular gifts. Our society even honors Hollywood's biggest stars by making molds of their hands and feet. This is the most basic idea behind stamped concrete -- altering the drab natural form of standard concrete into something more exciting.
Concrete has been a longtime go-to surfacing material. Today, with advances in construction and landscaping, there are more available possibilities than ever before. Stamped concrete is one of these possibilities.
Stamped concrete, sometimes referred to as patterned or imprinted concrete, is concrete that is dyed, altered and shaped to resemble a number of other construction materials -- like brick, flagstone, tile and wood. You can do the same thing with asphalt, stone or precast pavers, but stamped concrete now has more patterns and color options. It also allows for customization at an affordable price. If you have a specific look in mind for a pathway or patio, there's a good chance stamped concrete can deliver it.
The concrete used in this process is a bit thinner than normal concrete. Standard concrete usually has some large stones in it, but for proper stamping, the concrete is filtered to be much smoother. Consistency is an ever-important factor with concrete of all shapes and sizes. Stiff concrete isn't soft enough to mold, but weak concrete doesn't hold its shape [source: Concrete Network]. But when it's mixed and cured correctly, stamped concrete is a relatively simple and inexpensive way to get new surfaces around your home.
On the next page, we'll walk you through the basics of pouring concrete and stamping it. Then, you can round off your education by reading about the different designs available. Check out the next page.