Concrete is a versatile and tough building material that has been used for thousands of years. These days, we’re most used to thinking of concrete in ugly and utilitarian settings, like parking garages or office complexes, but there is no reason that concrete can’t be a beautiful addition to any environment. Many of the most celebrated monuments of the ancient world, such as the Roman Pantheon, are elegant concrete constructions. When you are building something important that needs to be durable and attractive, decorated concrete is the perfect medium.
There are several different modern methods of producing decorative concrete:
Stamped concrete: Concrete stamping is an economical and popular technique. Concrete is poured and colored, and then a stamping mat is used to add a pattern to the surface of the concrete. These patterns can be made to imitate any desired surface, such as brick, tile, or stone.
Stenciled concrete: Stenciled concrete is a technique for achieving more complex colored patterns. Stencils are used to create the desired pattern, and coloring is applied to the appropriate areas. When the stencils are removed, this gives the impression of colored tiles.
Micro-Topping: Micro-topping is a technique used to give concrete a perfectly smooth surface. A thin layer of a concrete-resin mix is applied to the surface of the existing concrete, and this naturally dries into a very smooth layer that can be colored to resemble natural stone, and can be stamped or stenciled the same way as bare concrete.
Scoring and staining: Stains consisting of a mixture of acid and mineral salts can be used to give concrete a patina similar to marble. These stains are often used in defined areas in the concrete surface, often marked by a scored or etched outline.