Standard concrete has been used for driveways, sidewalks, and patios for well over a century.
However, stamped concrete while essentially made from the same materials has different shapes, designs, and etchings that make it different.
What is stamped concrete?
Sometimes called patterned or imprinted concrete, stamped concrete is the result of rubber stamps that imprint the material with designs or patterns that resemble slate, tile, natural brick, and even planks of wood.
This form of concrete can be imprinted after it is poured over the ground or an existing concrete slab.
The stamping process allows the concrete to mimic other popular materials or have new, original patterns.
It is more expensive compared to standard concrete, but it is also more attractive and is quite popular for driveways, patios, pool-sides, and even interior spaces where concrete is used.
Painting these stamped concrete driveways make them even more attractive.
Plus, the paint also provides protection against the everyday foot traffic it has to deal with.
How to Paint Over Stamped Concrete?
Because concrete has a porous surface, it can hold paint easily as long as it has been prepared.
The differences between standard and stamped versions of concrete are minor at best.
The only notable one is that stamped concrete has grooves, pocks, and lines whereas standard concrete is smooth.
This difference means that if you are going to paint over stamped concrete, it is best to use a brush compared to a roller or spraying device that may not create an even layer of paint.
Step 1. Cure
If you decide to paint your stamped concrete patio, driveway, or flooring, then you will need to let it properly cure first.
It takes from one to two years to allow the stamped concrete to cure.
During this process, the moisture, salts, and minerals present in the concrete tend to seep out.
This will cause the paint to loosen from the surface until the concrete is fully cured.
You may be able to hasten the curing process if the material is Portland cement stamped concrete which can cure in just 30 days.
Step 2. Prep
The first step is to repair any damage to the surface areas.
This means addressing all cracks with mortar or acrylic caulk that is meant for masonry purposes – so that the moisture from the ground does not seep through.
If the concrete has water issues, then you should install gutters or in some circumstances a sump well to help keep the surface as dry as possible.
Once you have repaired the surface, the alkalies inside the concrete must be neutralized.
This means scrubbing the surface with a mixture of 3% phosphoric acid and 2% zinc chloride.
Do not rinse away the solution.
Step 3. Remove the Old Paint
If the surface has been previously painted, then you will need to remove all the old paint first.
You can use a wire-bristle brush which can take away the old paint (and rust if any) without damaging the surface.
If there are motor oil stains, then you must use a degreaser that will remove them. When the surface is clean, you are ready for the next step.
One-part muriatic acid mixed with 10 parts water should be poured over the surface and scrubbed using a push-broom made with bristles of nylon.
Once you have thoroughly brushed the surface, rinse it completely so that all of the solutions are removed.
When the surface is dry, you are ready to paint.
Step 4. Priming and Painting the Surface
As with painting any surface, it is best to use a high-quality primer first.
Once it dries, you are ready for the paint.
There are a number of paints that are specially formulated to stick to a patterned concrete surface, even a stamped one.
Because stamped concrete has lines, etchings, and pocks, you will need to use a masonry epoxy paint that fills the porous areas while spreading evenly across the surface.
Oil-based paint is generally preferred over latex versions because they are far more durable and will bind to the stenciled concrete surface quickly.
However, they are also somewhat more difficult to paint and will take longer to dry.
Step 5. Sealing the Stamped Concrete
After you have applied the primer and paint, you should finally seal the stamped concrete surface nicely.
Typically, you should spray the sealing formulation and avoid using a brush or a roller for this purpose.
Plus, you will need to apply two coats of sealer that will effectively seal and protect the surface from UV rays.
Sealing the stamping on your concrete using a good acrylic sealer is like waxing your car that will prevent the colors from fading away.
If you left the freshly painted surface unsealed, not only the colors will fade away faster but also there can be issues like watermarks, stains, and ugly spots.
How Often Should Stamped Concrete Be Sealed?
Stamped concrete that is already painted should be sealed and recoated every year to protect your investment.
You may however reseal it every 2-3 years depending on factors such as weather, location, use/traffic, pets, etc.
Basically, if you want to keep the stamping on your surfaces look shiny, and intact with rich colors it’s good to treat and refinish the surface once a year.
Few other reasons you will need to seal the surfaces more often include:
- Sealers available in different gloss finishes
- Helps in avoiding freeze-thaw damage in a freezing cold climate
- Protects the surface from salt, chemicals, dirt, fertilizer, pet urine, and more
- It prevents efflorescence – a build-up of a white powdery residue on the surface over time
- Slip-resistant sealers help in sealing the surfaces around a pool making the stamped concrete less slippery
Important Considerations when Painting Stamped Concrete
If you have any surrounding areas or parts of the design, you do not intend to put paint on, it’s important that you mask them with painter’s tape.
You will also need to make sure that all the nearby edges, doors, windows, garden endings, and walls are completely protected.
With both the primer and the paint, you will need to apply several thin coats to keep them from pooling in the grooves or indentations of the stamps.
You will need a brush to paint the grooves by hand and a paint roller to fill in the smoother areas.
Once you have applied several thin layers, allow stamped concrete surface five to seven days to fully dry.
Also, take all precautions and do not allow for vehicle or foot traffic during that time.
You can, however, walk on the surface gently after four to five hours of the drying time.
When it’s time to maintain and clean your stamped concrete, you should never use a pressure washer.
The high pressure can break down the paint or sealer and can reduce the shine, protection, or expected life.
Can You Tile Over Stenciled Concrete Driveways?
While you can install the tiles directly on stamped or stenciled concrete, there can be problems in case the concrete cracks or shifts.
In that case, cracks in concrete may get transferred to the tiles in the form of cracks in the tiles.
One good solution to overcome this problem is to maintain a gap of about 0.5 inches between each tile while laying.
Once the tiles are laid on the concrete base, you can fill the gaps with soil, sow the grass seeds and let the grass grow.
This will make your driveway, pavement and patio look awesome.
Keep in mind that as the green grass grows you should avoid using your driveway for at least four to five weeks.
Generally, you should allow the grass enough time to grow completely on your concrete pavers.
If you do not want to recolor or use tiles, there are various different materials that can be added to your existing concrete driveways and home pavements.
- Terrazzo: This allows you to try different desired patterns
- Flamed granite: Give your driveway a chic polished and rich look
- Natural sandstone or Kota stone: Gives a most appealing elegant natural look
Besides the above, a few other options that can be tried out include paver blocks, brick pavers, and interlocking pavers.
The Bottom Line
Redoing a stamped concrete patio or a driveway is a great way to enhance the overall look of your property.
The good thing is you can decorate it with varied styles and themes like the ones that imitate stones, tiles, marbles, textured, etc.
You can even go extra creative by using stencil patterns and colors that match perfectly with the overall look of your garden, pathways, pool areas, and bbq areas.
If recolored properly your freshly painted stamped concrete surface can last for as long as 5-10 years.
So, make sure you choose the right paints, stains, dyes, or tints that help you in achieving a most natural rich look.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.