Learn How to Stamp Concrete – Do it Yourself With Ease
First we need pick our colors. This can be one of the trickiest parts of the stamping process. There are of course color swatches, the best way to pick your color from a color swatch is to pick a color from the swatch and then go back one or two colors to get the actual color that you want. This is very similar to picking out a color that you want to paint a room. There are many variables such a lighting and the other colors in the room (sofa’s, rugs drapes etc.) that you wish to paint. How many times have you picked out a color at the paint store and started to paint your room and suddenly it just will not seem to match the color you picked from a swatch. This is what I call perceived vision. If you can relate to what I have just mentioned it also applies to picking out a color for your stamped concrete project, there are many variables of perceived vision, such as sunlight and surrounding colors, such as the color of your house, grass, and landscaping.
Onto pouring and finishing your stamped concrete project, I suggest that you start with no more than 100 square feet. First off let the concrete truck driver put the color into the concrete truck for you, and let it mix for at least 10 minutes. You may notice some streaking of the color as it comes out of the concrete truck, not to worry. You will want some color differences as this will resemble the natural colors of what ever impressions or stamp that you have chosen for your project. For example if you look at a rock you will notice that it has many shades of the same color and often some other colors. Your next step will be to insert the concrete into your forms, you will need what is called a screed board or a 2″x 4″, the purpose of a screed board is to level out the concrete inside of your forms and to also knock down the aggregate or rocks inside the cement.
Place the wet concrete inside your form work and leave it about a .5″ higher than the top of your forms. A good way to get a rough grade is to use a tool called a concrete rake or a square edged shovel. Once you have gotten the concrete .5″ above your form work you can start the “screeding” process. You will need someone to help you with this process. Once you have one person on each side of the screed board each of you will start to pull the concrete towards the end of the form work leveling as you go along. At this point you will need a bull float to close the surface of the concrete.
Generally you will run the bull float from top to bottom across the concrete overlapping each previous pass approximately 50% and then repeat the process from side to side. Do not worry about getting it completely flat, as once you begin to stamp it will not be flat at all. Do not get hung up on small dips or small elevation changes in the concrete. Now you may begin to edge the perimeter of the concrete with an edging tool, again do not get hung up on doing this perfect, especially if this is your first time. Now you will run a fresno across your project in the same manner as the bull float.
Now it is time to How many stamps do I need? your project. Prior to the concrete truck arriving, you will want to place the liquid release agent into a cheap garden sprayer and also get yourself some surface retardant and do the same. Liquid release simply allows you to place the rubber stamp onto the concrete without pulling off the finish of your concrete, the surface retardant will slow the set time of the concrete if you feel you are getting behind. Simply spray the area you will be placing your stamp and the stamp itself before you place the stamp onto the concrete. Do not spay the entire project at once as this will accelerate the setting time of the concrete and it will more than likely dry up before you get to the end of your project. Place each stamp down and set the next stamp snug against the stamp mat that is already on the concrete. Repeat this process until you reach the end.
Let your project cure for about 3-5 days and it is time to add secondary colors or the antique stage. For this you will need to get an antique agent, I suggest you use charcoal or grey for your first time. You will also need to get some xylene, one gallon for every 80_90 square feet. You will then add 5 tbsp. of antique agent to the xylene in a 1 gallon garden sprayer and stir or shake for about 45 seconds. In a circular motion spray the secondary colors onto the stamped concrete project, keeping in mind to spray some areas thicker that others, while being careful not to spray it on to thick, this will give you a more natural looking finish.
Let the xylene dry and apply two coats of; non-yellowing, solvent based acrylic sealant. Your project will be a lot darker when you apply the sealant than you anticipated, not to worry, the sealant also needs to cure. Within a day or two it will lighted up to your perceived vision.