What you’re looking at is concrete. That’s right, it’s what’s called decorative “stamped concrete“, sometimes referred to as imprinted concrete.

Mention this topic in a group of contractors and designers and you’re guaranteed a lively exchange of opinions. The positive remarks in the discussion would include things like durability and lower cost. However, the point that inevitably gets made is “it is stamped concrete and it looks like stamped concrete!” And there is no argument there.

But I can’t totally dismiss this product from the realm of possibilities because I do believe there are certain applications, especially commercial, where aesthetics, functionality and cost could strongly support the use of stamped concrete. As far as using it on one of my residential projects…I try to avoid it.

About Decorative Stamped Concrete

My beef with decorative stamped concrete is authenticity, i.e. something is trying to look like something it is not.

Any discerning eye can tell the difference. Furthermore, the stamped concrete will not develop the “character” and patina over time that a natural material like brick or stone will get. Call it aging if you’d like, but that’s what gives landscapes built with real brick, stone, etc. warmth and authenticity.

As I mentioned earlier, I believe there are appropriate uses in the commercial market where the features of decorative stamped concrete really come into play.

For example, there is a country store/garden center in my area that has a stamped concrete floor in their main building. The style imprint resembles patterned flagstone. The store owner tells me it’s fantastic – it looks great, was reasonable in cost and is very practical. Everyday after business the surface is washed.

Although decorative stamped concrete is not “the real McCoy,” it does have redeeming qualities:

  • Versatility. You can do just about anything with concrete.  It’s an extremely flexible construction medium.
  • Endless style, pattern and color choices.
  • Relatively easy to install compared to other materials.
  • Often more cost effective than other materials, but you should always do a project-specific comparison.
  • Long-term performance (if it’s constructed correctly including steel reinforcement) and ease of maintenance.

If you’re a homeowner considering decorative stamped concrete I’d suggest you visit properties where it’s used. No doubt the practical and cost features will appeal to you. It’s really more a decision of look and design sensibility. It’s a personal choice.

  • Jamie Vogts
    6:52 PM, 10 February 2013

    Hello, I am a new comer to swimming pools. We purchased a house in the wintertime with a swimming pool area which we found out hasfailed to be looked after for at the least a couple of years. I exposed it two weeks ago and have been trying to fix it. It started out with a substantial amount of crud in the bottom that we cleaned straight out. Now it’s very light green, yet it is not getting any better. I found a small business near by, has anyone heard about these people or endorse any others? Affordable Pool Service & Repair, 2942 N 24th St #114, Phoenix, AZ 85016, (602) 910-2295. Any type of expertise is helpful.

    • Roger
      12:12 AM, 11 February 2013

      I think it’s smart to get a knowledgeable pool person to evaluate your pool. This will get you up to speed with what you have. Things like structural build, plumbing and electrical can all be looked at. No doubt there will be advice as to how to operate the setup you have. And perhaps there will be recommendations to improve and possibly repair things. Professional pool companies have diagnostic equipment and techniques to really delve into problems and then advise. And it could be that your pool just needs to be setup and operated a certain way.

      Every pool has its idiosyncrasies. Getting to know them and how to work with them is also part of the process to optimal performance.

      As far as finding the best company to deal with, you could ask other people (e.g. neighbors) who they’re using. Or, how about the local chamber of commerce, better-business bureau. I’m not really up to speed on social media, like Twitter & Facebook, but I understand these networks can also help find recommendations.

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