Patios and decks can be made with a wide range of materials, the most popular of which are wood and concrete. Sadly, while traditional concrete pavers and wood patios are great for outdoor entertainment, they can both be expensive.
A great alternative is a stamped concrete patio. Stamped concrete serves as a low-cost alternative to wood or concrete pavers. Better yet, carefully crafted designs give stamped concrete patios the look and feel of more expensive alternatives.
Continue reading to see the average costs of stamped concrete patios, as well as all the benefits and drawbacks of this popular patio trend.
What is Stamped Concrete?
Before we can get into the costs, we have to explain what stamped concrete actually is. Stamped concrete refers to the process of decorating concrete once an installer has laid it. The material consists of a sandy substance that the installer mixes with water. The installer will need to create a mold that holds the concrete in place until it dries. After mixing the concrete and water, they pour it into the mix.
While the surface of the concrete is still wet, the installer will stamp the surface with a design of your choosing. Depending on the chosen design, the installer might need to stamp the concrete multiple times. After the concrete sets, the finished design will appear on top.
Stamped Concrete Costs
According to our stamped concrete material estimator, stamped concrete costs between $8 and $20 per square foot. Keep in mind, this is just the cost of materials and does not include labor if you bring in a patio professional.
Factors Affecting Cost
Like all home improvement costs, there are ways to lower your total project cost. Some of the factors that can increase or decrease your stamped patio costs are:
- Complexity of design
- Multiple colors
You’d be surprised by the intricate designs professionals can create. In fact, some can even color wet concrete to make it look like brick or stone. On the outskirts, they can even generate round medallions arranged around a geometric design.
As you might expect, more colors, shading or complex designs will surely increase your overall project cost.
To see other factors affecting a patio’s cost, please see our concrete patio cost guide.
Advantages of Stamped Concrete
Other than the cost, there are few other advantages that come with a stamped concrete patio compared to the more common concrete paver patio.
First off, stamped concrete is very durable. Whether you live in Chicago with all that snow, rainy Seattle or hot and humid Miami, stamped concrete will not crack or break. Stamped concrete can last well over 10 years.
Maintenance is big factor with any outdoor project. Other than reapplying the sealant every few years, something your patio pro can show you, stamped concrete patios require little maintenance year-round.
Finally, perhaps the biggest pro is the absence of grass and weeds. With the more common concrete pavers, grass and weeds can grow in between each piece. Even if the pavers are close together, grass and weeds still have room to grow and create that ugly patio look.
Disadvantages of Stamped Concrete
It’s cheaper and durable which means there are of course some drawbacks. The most popular disadvantage is efflorescence. When concrete comes in contact with water, it can leave behind crystallized deposits. This is very prevalent when the water reaches the concrete before it finishes drying or curing. Crystals may appear on the surface of your patio within a few days, weeks or months. Efflorescence can also occur when the sealant on the surface of the concrete wears off which is why it’s important to reseal every few years.
Another common problem shows up when the concrete patio is not properly installed. When you or the pro has to use two stamps or move the stamp to design a larger patio, ridges can occur in between stamped areas and distract others from the overall design. To avoid this common drawback, make sure you have your design fully planned out before initiating the process.
If you’re looking for a specialty-designed patio at a reasonable cost, stamped concrete is your best bet. Coming in as low as $8 per square foot, stamped concrete creates the appearance of a more expensive material, is very durable and presents little maintenance.
For more patio ideas, please see How To Install Brick Patio Pavers and 7 Small Patio Ideas For Creating The Ultimate Urban Oasis.