Watch a time lapse video of a stamped concrete project:
The installation procedure of the typical residential job. Commercial applications will vary.
An installation of a stamped concrete job is usually the neighborhood entertainment for the day. The process to someone unfamiliar is rather interesting. Most common quotes are "Look at that!", "Amazing", "It's unbelievable what you can do with concrete". With all this said, it is important that you know and understand the complete installation process from the beginning to the end. After scheduling of job, you will be given an approximate time frame of when we are scheduled to start the project. You are called a few days before the day of the start of the project to meet with the project manager at your home. At your meeting with the project manager, he will go over an outline of what you can expect to take place each day. At this time he will transfer the design to a spray-out outline in your yard. Elevations, access points, and any concerns that you may have will be discussed. Final color selection and pattern selection are also picked. At the conclusion of this meeting you will have a clear understanding of what will take place. You will be given your project manager's contact information for daily communication throughout the process---now it's time to get started and this is what you can expect:
Installation, Day 1:
- Grade and pitch is set with steel pins and laser. A chalk line will be snapped on the home foundation of the desired patio height. The number of desired steps is a determining factor of how low the slab is below the siding, brick, wood or stone on your home exterior. A typical slab will be pitched a minimum of ¼" per foot for proper water run off. The pattern will also affect how much the slab is pitched. Each pattern has different depth impressions, the deeper the pattern impression; the more the slab should be pitched to prevent standing water impressions. Also important to note, if you choose a pattern that has a running bond pattern (all "grout" lines running in the same direction) that the pattern runs in the direction of the pitch.
- Tear out existing (if applicable).
- Digging begins. Proper base is a critical step in this process. Below the concrete, it is important that a 4"-6" compacted, clean stone base be provided prior to pouring of concrete. The concrete thickness on top of the stone base will also be between 4"-6", depending on the job specs. Digging depth will range between 8" and 12" depending on job specs, unless ground elevation dictates differently. Ground is either hauled away or kept on job site, depending on client's desire.
- Downspout extension pipes are put in place if necessary.
- Steps are formed, if any.
- Steel pins are drilled into foundation to support steps.
- Pad is formed.
- Stone is hauled and put into place (between 4" and 6" depending on job specs)
- Stone is compacted using vibratory plate.
- Steps are sometimes poured this day depending on job size. If steps are required, form crew will form and pour steps (on some more complex projects, steps are not poured until day 2).
- Plastic is placed on your home to protect from any splash.
- Step forms are removed.
Installation, Day 2:
- Pour crew arrives to pour and stamp main pad. (usually 7:00 am).
- Step forms are stripped
- Expansion felt is secured along home to allow for movement. Steel pins are drilled approximately 2.5" below patio height.
- Plastic is secured on home exterior to protect from any splash of concrete.
- Any additional stone that is needed is put into place.
- Reinforcement is put in place when concrete will be poured.
- Concrete truck arrives (typically between 8:00am and 9:00am).
- Concrete is poured in the formed area, strike flat and then the fun begins...
The Stamp Process
After the concrete has been placed, strike flat and bull floated the color hardener or "accent colors" is applied after access bleed water has evaporate. This is when the transformation begins to take place. This product is tossed on the wet surface and then bull floated into the concrete. The color hardener serves several function: first, the obvious, it colors the concrete. Second, it increases the surface strength and wear ability. The concrete is poured at using 3500# psi mix. The color hardener increases the surface strength to 6,000 psi. Third, it creates a smoother and tighter surface which allows for better visible detail when stamping. Fourth, because it densifies the surface, it drastically reduces the porosity of the concrete (keeps moisture out). In the northeast with the freeze/thaw cycles the denser the surface, the lower the risk of potential of damage.
After the color hardener has been applied and finished, powder release agent is applied prior to stamping. This product serves 2 functions 1) Keeps the mats from sticking to the concrete. 2) Implements another shade of color. This product is also referred to as "Antiquing Agent". Most of this color is washed off the following day. This product is designed to stay in the crevasses or low impressions. Often times this process can get the client extremely nervous. You may have wanted a tan or brown patio, but after the stamping process on Day 1, your patio is black! No worries, most of the black will be washed off. The tan is under the black.
Now let's make this powdery mess look like something. Rubber mats are used to create the desired pattern. These mats are laid on the concrete in the "plastic" state (too soft and mats will sink, too hard you get no impression, "plastic" state perfect for stamping). Mats laid one next to each other and tamped with a hard rubber tamper to ensure good impressions. These mats also serve as walking planks for the installers so they can get to the middle of the patio. The process repeats until the entire area is covered.
Installation, Day 3:
- Detail Crew arrives
- Plastic is removed from house
- Antiquing agent is blown off
- Hand chisel work begins. In the stamping process, as stamps are pushed into the soft concrete it is common to get "spooge" between the stamps. For example, take 4 rocks and push into muddy ground. What happens? Muddy water squeezes up between them. In the stamped concrete industry this "muddy water" is called "spooge". This muddy water hardens when dry, well same as "spooge". The "spooge" is not a desired look in our opinion; we remove it with hand chisels. Believe it or not, there are some contractors that leave it in to save a few hours.
- Control joints are cut. Concrete pad must have control joints. These are saw cuts. When possible we try to put the cut in the pattern to camouflage it as much as possible. These cuts are placed in strategic areas where concrete has its best chance to crack.
- Pad and house are washed down.
- After pad has dried, the 3rd accent color is applied. If a 4th is desired, it must be applied after 3rd color has completely dried. These colors can be adjusted to your liking. If you do not like, we simply wash off and find what you like. With other contractors you do not have this flexibility. With most other contractors you will only get a 2 color pattern.
Installation, Day 4:
- Sealer is applied (may not be in consecutive days)
- Landscape Division either backfills or installs landscaping according to contract.
Installation, Day 5:
- Landscape crew arrives depending on design or contract, the landscape crew will install planting beds as drawing indicates or just backfill using screened topsoil and seed. This is another area we far exceed our competitors. When we are finished with your project, you can relax and enjoy your outdoor living area, not spend days raking soil and trying to grow grass in rock and clay. In most cases, on the final day, you and your project manager will meet on-site to be sure we exceeded your expectations.
Please note: Job may not be done in 5 consecutive days. We never pour a pad if there is over a 50% chance of rain that day. Timeline subject to change based upon patio options selected for your individual project.
Visit our portfolio page for an assortment of finished stamped concrete projects.
Before & After
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