Decorative Concrete FAQ - Decorative Concrete Supply
Do I need more than one concrete stamp to stamp concrete and what is a "package" of concrete stamps?
Yes, you need to use more than one concrete stamp when stamping concrete. Keep in mind the concrete will dry faster than you can stamp if you have only one stamp. Also, what will you walk on if you only have one stamp? Seamless textured stamps are made to overlap each other. Patterned concrete stamps are made to butt up against each other for tight precisions and no gaps between the stamps. Rule of thumb: you should have enough stamps to cover the width of the project, plus two. Our packages are the minimum number of stamps and accessories recommended for each pattern. Generally, 6 rigid stamps, 1 thin flex, 2 touch up skins, chisels and/or wheels. What is the difference between a Seamless Texture Concrete Stamp and a Patterned Concrete Stamp?
A Seamless Texture Concrete Stamp has a feathered edge and texture. These stamps are meant to overlap each other for a textured finish without seams. A Patterned Concrete Stamp could be a number of patterns including: Random Stone, Cobble Stone, Brick, Wood Plank, etc. These stamps are made to fit tightly together and if an A, B, and C stamp is recommended, the pattern will not be complete with any less stamps.
Will the concrete stamps work for overlay as well as new concrete?
Yes, most of the concrete stamps we sell can be used for overlay. (If you are not sure what overlay is, keep reading and we go over it below.) The exception is with any of our stamps that are labeled "groutable" or have deeper grout lines they might not be suitable for overlay. Please email or call with any questions regarding a specific stamp.
What is a Thin Flex concrete stamp?
A Thin Flex concrete stamp is a more flexible concrete stamp used for going up against a wall or pillar. It is thinner (25% thinner) and bends against structures more easily than a rigid concrete stamp. Each pattern offers a thin flex version of the concrete stamp. The handles are tabs instead of loops. It is less expensive because it is thinner.
Can I use a Thin Flex to stamp my entire stamp concrete project?
No, this is not recommended. Thin Flexes are too flexible and will catch edges more often than a rigid stamp.
I can't get close enough to the wall with the Thin Flex. What do I do?
Before coming in with the Thin Flex use a feathered edge seamless textured touch up skin (they are 20” x 20”) and lay texture along the wall. Then use the Thin Flex concrete stamp. If the Thin Flex can't get in close enough to the wall, use the recommended wheels or chisels and hand tool the lines yourself.
What's a Touch Up Skin?
A Touch Up Skin is a 20" x 20" feathered edge seamless skin. All of the patterns sold recommend a specific touch up skin be used. This skin is useful for edges, up against walls, and areas where you just need more texture.
How do I care for my Concrete Stamps?
Clean your concrete stamps with a mild soap and soft brush. Liquid dish soap is actually a very good cleaning method. Also, you can spray the concrete stamps with silicone to keep them well conditioned.
What are the concrete stamps made from?
Our manufacturer hand creates each concrete stamp out of a special formula of polymer. This special formula allows for lighter, yet more durable stamps.
What’s Color Hardener?
Traditionally, the most popular coloring technique is to hand broadcast a Color Hardener(s) onto the wet concrete and work it in with a trowel or float. Color Hardener colors only the top surface layer unlike integral colors which come out of the truck already colored and is consistently colored throughout the concrete mix. Color hardener tends to be more intense since it covers only the top layer of the concrete than integral color. Color hardener usually covers 100 sf per 60 lb pail. Multiple applications may be necessary depending on the color you select. Color hardener can be used on new concrete and overlay material. Because color hardeners increase the strength of the concrete, they are a better alternate to concrete subjected to freeze-thaw cycles and salts as well as interior floors with lots of foot traffic. Protect any area around the color hardener when applying to avoid unwanted messes and stains.
What’s Integral Color?
Integral color is color that is added to the concrete at the ready mix plant or on the job prior to pouring. Color will be consistent throughout the entire slab so if cracking or abrasions occur, color will be consistent. Integral color should not fade over time from exposure to weather. Colors tend to be less vibrant than what you will see with color hardeners and cost can be a drawback when compared to color hardeners. To determine how much integral color is needed, determine if it is a 4, 5, or 6 sack of cement per cubic yard. Determine the amount of cubic yards for the job. Determine pounds per color choice. For example, the formula for a 6 bag mix with the color mocha (5 lbs) for a 28 yard job is: 6 bag mix x 5 lbs (mocha) x 28 cubic yards = 840 lbs of integral mocha color needed See the integral color chart to determine pounds per color. Darker colors will have higher pounds per color.
What’s Acid Stain?
Acid Stain is a chemical reactive stain developed to permanently transform ordinary concrete surfaces into the beautiful, variegated look of polished stone, wood, tanned leather, and marble. These stains are water-based stains made from a weak solution of acid and minerals that react with free lime available in the surface of fully cured concrete. The effect is a marbleized finish that uses imperfections in a concrete surface rather than cover them up. You can use our acid stain over our color hardeners and antique release agents for a dazzling combination of effects. One gallon will cover approximately 200 – 400 sf at full strength or may be diluted 20:1 for lighter colors. Acid stain can be used on new or properly prepped old concrete to revitalize the surface. It can be applied vertically as well as horizontally.
What’s a Water Based Stain?
Water based stains are eco friendly and are similar to acid based stains in the sense that they will achieve a translucent look like acid and some achieve an opaque color. The water based concrete stains are more of a coating that bond to the concrete rather than reacting to the concrete and changing the physical makeup of the concrete like an acid stain. Water based stains are easier to clean up and more user friendly.
We sell three different kinds of water based stains.
Ez-Accent is a water-based acrylic stain that is formulated to accent any decorative concrete surface. It is translucent and designed to blend with the base color over which it is applied. It can be applied to flatwork, vertical surfaces and rockscapes. Colors can be mixed together. This product comes already mixed and ready to use. The coverage rate is approximately 200 – 500 sf per gallon. Do not over apply this product which can be applied using a variety of techniques including pump sprayer, hand sprayer or rolling, brushing, sponging and ragging. Water can be sprayed on during the application to blend colors and soften hard edges. This product is easy to clean up while wet with water but once it’s dried a chemical paint remover will be needed. This product is strongly recommended if user would like a natural looking rock or wood surface. Experiment with colors on all types of concrete stamped surface to achieve original and natural looking work. Don’t be afraid to use several different colors. I’ve used blues, greens and yellows on my red brick stamped concrete and created a natural looking bricks with opaque coloring. This product should be applied before Ez-Tique.
Ez-Tique is sold as a powder but meant to be mixed with water and applied as a liquid wash coat. It can be used to revitalize an old concrete surface or add dimension to a freshly textured surface. It’s non-hazardous and water based. The most basic technique is to wet the concrete surface with water, then pour the Ez-Tique onto the surface and use a push broom to spread product around. Keep clean water on hand to add as needed to help the product spread evenly. This product can be cleaned up easily with water while wet. One 3 lb bag covers approximately 2000 – 3000 sf. The outcome will be color in the deeper areas of the stamp similar to the look achieved by using Antique Release. Be sure to seal this (as with all of the color techniques) to ensure longer lasting color.
Smith’s Floor Color is a water-based acrylic stain developed to achieve a decorative natural appearance on concrete floors and other porous mediums. The stain adheres to a variety of surfaces including interior and exterior concrete, brick, plaster, and natural stone. It can also be applied to previously sealed concrete surfaces which allows the applicator to save time. Smith’s can be applied via an airbrush, high volume low pressure sprayer, airless sprayer, production gun, pump sprayer, sea sponge and transitional brittle brush. Best results are achieved when a mist is created. Smith’s comes as a liquid to be mixed at a ratio of 4 parts distilled water to 1 part concentrate or it can be diluted with more water if desired. The surface must be prepped and cleaned according to manufacturer’s specifications prior to application.
The color of my stamped concrete is faded and old. Is there anything I can do?
Yes, use Proline EZ-Tique, EZ-Accent or Smith's water based color products. They are easy to use and will give your dull, lifeless concrete a punch of color. Keep in mind, you must have a porous surface before using any concrete coloring product otherwise the product will not stick.
Do I have to use a Release Agent?
Yes, you must use a Release Agent. A Release Agent keeps the concrete from sticking to the concrete stamps or concrete rollers. It is a bond breaker. Apply the liquid or powder release agent as you stamp the concrete. Do not get too far ahead of the stamping.
What’s Antique Release?
Concrete Antique Release comes as a powder and is available in over 40 colors. The antique release agent is generally a darker color than the base color and adds variation and depth to the concrete pattern. The antique release will provide color in the lower area of the stamp concrete pattern. The antique release is broadcast out onto the concrete by hand or with a 6” mason brush as you stamp in thin, even coats that overlap just enough to produce a uniform layer on the slab surface. You can begin stamping as soon as the release is applied. Do not get too far ahead of the stamping. After the concrete has cured at least 24 hours, the antique release agent is removed by brushing then rinsing with a garden hose spray nozzle, light pressure washing, scrubbing, or buffing. Remove only enough to achieve desired antique effect. Antique release coverage rate is approximately 1,000 sf per 30 lb bucket.
What is a Liquid Release Agent?
Liquid Release Agent is a clear, colorless bond breaker used to prevent the concrete stamp or concrete stamping tools from sticking to the wet concrete. Liquid release is sprayed onto the concrete surface as you stamp the concrete. Do not get too far ahead of the stamping process. The benefit of using a liquid release agent is that it is less messy and you can see the stamping impressions much easier than you can if you use a powder release agent. The con is that it provides no color, but you can use water-based Ez-Tique to achieve a similar look to the antique release once the concrete has dried. The coverage rate for the liquid release is approximately 200 sf per gallon.
Overlay is a less expensive option to revitalize old, lifeless concrete and can be stamped and colored just like new concrete with the exception of no color hardener and no antique release. Calico Stampable Overlay can be used on “stable” concrete surfaces, interior and exterior commercial floors, driveways, patios, pool decks, recreational facilities, vertical or horizontal work and much more. It is available in standard white color, but all kinds of colors can be achieved on site by adding Calico Color Pigment Packs and/or coloring after curing using Calico Ez-Tique, Calico Acid Stain or Calico Water-Based Color Stain Concentrate. Typically it is placed at 1/4” - 3/8” thick depending on the type of surface you are seeking to achieve or decorative concrete stamp being used. The coverage rate is 1 50 bag covers 20 sf at 3/8” thickness. Data Sheets are available with complete instructions, but basically you will need to repair all cracks with Calico Crack Repair Kit, patch all holes with Calico Quick Patch, and honor all control joints. Clean the concrete and ensure it is porous prior to applying the Calico Bonding Primer. Calico Stamped Overlay must be applied within 48 hours of applying the bonding primer. Mix the Calico Bonding Primer with water, add desired color pack and then slowly mix in the 50 lb of Calico Overlay and mix for approximately 3 minutes. Place the overlay on top of the surface and screed to desired thickness (at least ¼”). Allow the overlay to firm up and then you are ready to stamp. Keep in mind, you will need to use a liquid release agent and not a powder antique release agent. Allow to cure 24 hours. See Calico Technical Data Sheets for more specific direction.
Do I need to seal my concrete after coloring and stamping? If so, how often?
Yes, if you want to maintain the color of your concrete, you need to seal it. You should plan to seal your concrete every 2 years (sooner if concrete is exposed to extreme weather conditions.) Sealing concrete enriches the color intensity whether the color is integral, a stain or dye, or from color hardener. Sealers can add sheen to the concrete such as a high gloss or no sheen like a matte. Concrete sealers block the penetration of dirt, oil, grease and chemicals and make the concrete surface much easier to clean. Sealers prevent water intrusion which can minimize freeze-thaw damage. Concrete sealers also help to prevent wear and tear from high foot and auto traffic areas.
What’s the difference with sealers?
There are many different kinds of sealers and concrete doesn’t have to have a sealer to perform well, but concrete sealers will extend the life of the concrete and give your concrete color a pop and shine that can only be achieved by using a sealer. Sealers typically come in a high gloss or matte appearance. An important fact to be considered when selecting your sealer is what is your state’s VOC (volatile organic compounds) requirement? If you are unsure, check with your state’s EPA office. Many sealers with a higher VOC are not legal in all of the states. For example, Californians are only permitted to use sealers with a VOC no higher than 100.
The most common concrete sealers are acrylic-resin based sealers. Acrylic sealers are cost effective and often blended with epoxies, polyurethanes or silicones to improve the performance and water resistance. Acrylic sealers are available in many forms with some performing far superior to others. A less expensive sealer such as a styrene acrylic is a lower performing sealer that may yellow and degrade when exposed to sunlight or extreme weather conditions. The best type of sealer is a pure acrylic resin sealer that will last longer with no yellowing.
There are other types of sealers such as polyurethanes, epoxies and penetrating resins. In general, the epoxy or polyurethane sealers cost more than acrylics and tend to be more slippery. They also may not allow for moisture vapor to move out of the concrete if applied incorrectly. If the sealer doesn’t allow for moisture vapor and air to move in and out, a white hazing or fogging can occur. This can be prevented by avoiding moisture in the sealing process. Strictly adhere to the manufacturer’s recommendations for allowing the concrete to cure fully before applying the sealer if required. Also, be sure to apply the sealer to the appropriate thickness required for the sealer. Applying a sealer too thickly will prevent the water moisture from passing through the sealer and result in a foggy appearance. MSDS and product information sheets are available for all of the sealers we sell. Read them fully before applying the sealer and call or email with any questions.
It’s important to always select a sealer that will protect your decorative concrete from foot traffic and weather. If you are sealing a driveway or garage that will be subjected to grease and oil, you’ll need a sealer that specifically repels these stains, resists water intrusion and abrasions. Primarily, the sealer used for exterior concrete flatwork is a solvent based or water based acrylic. For interior concrete work, a sealer with good resistance to scuffs and stains such as polyurethane or epoxy would be best and easiest to maintain. A good concrete surface protector such as Calico Top Finish would also help to protect your already sealed surface.
Acrylic sealers are often used on exterior concrete surfaces because they breathe well and provide good water resistance. Ideally, concrete sealers should allow moisture vapor within the surface to escape so that you don’t have a foggy appearance or clouding. Epoxies are excellent for water repellence and oil and grease spills but must be applied correctly to prevent the restricted release of moisture vapor.
We offer several different kinds of sealers from the more economical to the high performance sealers. The sealers we sell are:
Proline High Gloss and Matte VOC 100 sealers – This sealer is recommended for states with strict VOC requirements. It’s applied at the rate of approximately 200 sf per gallon. The appearance is high gloss or matte finish depending on your choice. It is a solvent-based clear sealer. This sealer will not yellow and has excellent UV stability. It is designed to use over stamped concrete, color hardener, antique release, acid stain or the Ez water based products. It can be used inside and outside. It’s sold in 1 gallon or the more economical 5 gallon containers.
Calico Stamped Concrete Sealer WB – This is a water-based sealer for decorative concrete and the advantage to using it is there is no VOC and is acceptable to sell in all states. It is an echo friendly product and according to Chris Sullivan, an expert in concrete, “There is nothing wrong with water-based sealers.” Calico WB sealer is clear, non-yellowing, acrylic, polymer-based, with high solids. It is easy to apply. It was formulated to seal and protect decorative colored concrete by producing a hard (yet flexible) clear film. This product can be used inside and outside on driveways, patios, swimming pool areas and exposed aggregate. It will provide resistance to chemicals, oil, grease, de-icing salts, and abrasions. This sealer can be used with acid stain and other decorative concrete surfaces. Coverage is 300 – 600 sf per gallon. This product may be cleaned with soap and water while wet and once dried cleaned with xylene or toluene. Wait 28 days before applying this sealer to new concrete. It’s sold in 1 gallon or the more economical 5 gallon containers.
Calico Tuff Seal – This sealer is 28% solids and solvent based that provides a wet look. It is a high acrylic polymer that gives good gloss, stain resistance and helps to keep the surface clean. The VOC is 680. This is a restricted shipping item not for sale in several states. The appeal of this sealer is that it is less expensive than some of our other sealers yet may wear off sooner than the higher solid sealers we offer. Calico Tuff Seal is designed to seal decorative concrete, exposed aggregate, porous tile, concrete pavers, and a variety of architectural concrete surfaces. You must wait 28 days to seal new concrete. Coverage rate is 200 – 400 sf per gallon.
Calico Stamped Concrete Sealer – This is a 38% high solids, solvent based, wet look sealer. Shipping restrictions apply since this sealer has a VOC of 600. This is a high performance clear sealer suitable for a deep penetration, non-yellowing in appearance. It is recommended for use on surfaces such as stamped concrete, exposed aggregate concrete, brick, slate, manufactured stone and other concrete surfaces. Calico Stamped Concrete Sealer will retard efflorescence of most cured masonry surfaces. It is not recommended for non-porous surfaces. This sealer is ideal for average foot traffic, patios, pool areas, sidewalks, interior and exterior concrete surfaces. The coverage rate is 300 – 600 sf per gallon.
Calico Q Seal – This is a 25% high solids, solvent based acrylic sealer with a lower VOC at 330. The benefit in using Calico Q-Seal is that the application work time is more user friendly with slower evaporation as well as being less flammable so safer to apply indoors. Also the lower VOC makes it more acceptable to use in many states with higher restrictions. Calico Q-Seal is a superior quality water repellent, UV resistant, sealer that chemically bonds to porous substrates. It is manufactured specifically for porous masonry surfaces such as exposed aggregate concrete, brick, slate, stamped concrete, manufactured stone and other various porous concrete surfaces. Calico Q-Seal is suitable for interior and exterior applications where a deep penetrating, non-yellowing, high gloss appearance is needed with extra ultra violet resistance. It’s longer lasting, goes on fast, and stays on longer. Calico Q-Seal will retard efflorescence of most cured masonry surfaces. Calico Q-Seal will darken the porous masonry surface; thereby, allowing the treated surface to appear wet. This sealer is not recommended for non-porous or dense surfaces. It can be applied 24 hours after applying new concrete.
Calico Acrylic Urethane Sealer 2C – This sealer is the ultimate long lasting sealer ideal for heavy foot traffic, driveways and garages. It is a two component, low viscosity acrylic urethane. It has excellent penetration and adhesion to minimally profiled concrete. It’s stable to use in exterior applications, cures rapidly and is easily recoated with both solvent based and water based polyurethanes. When used as a finish coat this sealer gives a hard, high gloss surface that offers excellent stain resistance. Compared to solvent based acrylic sealers, Calico Acrylic Urethane Sealer 2C offers substantial improvements in initial gloss, gloss retention and overall performance. This is a fantastic paver sealer and designed specifically for use over concrete, stained surfaces, and various types of architectural concrete. It provides color enhancement similar to solvent acrylic sealers. When used as a finish coat in vehicle areas, it resists tire tracking and provides easy soil release. Abrasion resistance to heavy foot traffic far exceeds single component materials. Application is 200 sf per gallon or puddling may result with solvent entrapment and possible blistering. This product can be slippery when wet. It is recommended that Calico Aluma Grip be used. Shipping restrictions apply.
What about waxes or products to maintain and extend the life of the sealer?
Calico Top Finish – Calico Top Finish is a high performance interior and exterior acrylic polish to use on decorative concrete including pavers to revitalize dull concrete and extend the life of the sealer. In addition, Calico Top Finish provides excellent scuff resistance, prevention of dirt retention and protection to pre-sealed concrete. Use this product regularly to enhance the appearance of your decorative concrete. Calico Top Finish can be applied by spraying and following with a rayon mop or by rayon mop and mop bucket. Coverage rate is 500 – 1,000 sf per gallon.
Slippery concrete – what can I do?
Calico Aluma Grip Coarse or Regular – Calico Aluma Grip provides slip resistance. It is typically tossed in the air and broadcast on the surface of still wet coatings. It is excellent around pools or food preparation areas. It is recommended for use in Calico's solvent based Acrylic & Acrylic Urethane 2C sealers. It is easier to clean than sand textured surfaces and easy on bare feet. Calico Aluma Grip is durable and long lasting. It is broadcast at the rate of 500 – 1000 sf per 2.5 lb bottle into the prime coat.
Calico Grip – Calico Grip provides slip resistance. It easily stirs into most oil-based and water-based coatings and sealers, due to its low oil absorption and high solvent resistance. Its low density allows it to stay well suspended in thin materials such as stains and sealers. Excellent for around pools or food preparation areas where cleaning is often necessary or any surfaces needing additional slip resistance. Do not use in repellents, silicones or wax coatings. Calico Grip is easier to clean than sand textured surfaces and easy on bare feet. It is transparent in clean coatings. The coverage rate is 1 16 oz container of Calico Grip mixed with 5 gallons of sealer yields approximately 1,000 sf.
What makes a stamped concrete job really stand out?
Taking the time and the little extra expense to add concrete accent pieces, medallions and/or border art. Make your job unique with any one of our stamped concrete medallions that are available in a large array of sizes from a 3’ flaming sun skin to a 13’ 16 point star medallion. Your customer may love a compass medallion colored with the Ez-accent and Ez-tique or not colored at all. We have smaller hand carved items too like a dragonfly, hummingbird and butterflies as well as fish, leaves, horses, etc. We even have all kinds of animal tracks such as bear paws, crane feet, and even a giraffe. Border art is available in the popular grapevine, daisies, wild mustangs, autumn ivy and dolphins among many other choices. Set your work apart, take fabulous pictures of your jobs and increase your customer base.
What’s an Edge Liner?
A concrete stamp edge liner is used around counter tops, fire pits, stairs, concrete benches, etc. We sell a variety of textures and edges including bull nose, flat, and hammered edge as well as no texture to the more aggressive textures like Denali and Yukon.
A form liner is generally attached to a form to provide texture and/or a pattern. They can be used to create fire pits, concrete benches, etc. We sell a few different kinds of form liners including ledger stone, random river stone, and an ashlar pattern. The forms are meant to work with Sonotube and 4 forms would work inside a 4’ Sonotube.
How do I get the impression into the concrete?
At some point while you are stamping, the concrete is going to start to get really hard. You will need a tamper to tamp the stamps into the concrete. Tampers are available in a 12” and 16” base with a 4’ handle. We also have a hand held 7” base tamper called the Billy Banger to save your hands from slapping the concrete in smaller corners and when imprinting accent pieces or border art.
When will my order ship?
Your order will generally ship out within 1 - 3 business days. However, during peak months (April - October) it may take longer for the order to ship out. Please call or email and let us know of specific time constraints. Many stamps are custom made upon the sale and not stocked.
Do you ship your concrete stamping products outside of the United States?
Yes, please contact us via email or phone and let us know what you would like to order, the shipping address, and whether or not you would like the products to ship via air or sea. We will then obtain a shipping quote for you.
Can you ship the concrete stamps expedited or via overnight delivery?
Sometimes, it depends on the order. Many of the concrete stamps are too large to ship via overnight carrier, but some orders are no problem at all. We can offer you expedited shipping options and quotes if you contact us by phone or email. Please be sure to let us know your shipping address and exact order.