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Imprinted Concrete Patio Cost Guide

Stamped concrete has such a rich and textured look that some people don't realize that they're standing on a concrete patio until someone tells them differently. Also known as imprinted concrete, this is a special process that uses ordinary concrete and a few tools to etch or create a design on top. Builders suggest imprinted concrete for homeowners who like the look of fieldstone, flagstone or another natural material but can't afford the high cost of those products. An imprinted concrete patio functions well around a swimming pool or as a normal patio attached to a house.

The Costs 

  • Basic Designs: $8 to $12 per square foot

  • Customized Designs: $12 to $18 per square foot

  • Elaborate Designs: $18+ per square foot

The cost of an imprinted concrete patio starts at $8 to $12 per square foot. While concrete pavers typically cost around $5 to $10 per square foot, pavers come with a number of potential problems. This average cost refers to basic designs and smaller patios that require only one stamp or one design. More elaborate designs can cost $12 up to $18 per square foot. These designs include some basic coloring techniques and designs. Homeowners might want a contrasting border around the edges or a two-tone design. The more elaborate designs can cost up to $18 or more per square foot. These designs include patios made with specific decorations, customized designs and larger patios.

What is Imprinted Concrete?

Imprinted concrete can resemble brick, slate, marble, bluestone or granite. Concrete is an inexpensive building material that features a combination of smaller aggregate materials. When mixed with water and applied in the correct way, it can last for decades. Builders use powdered colors when mixing the solution to give it a different color, and they can also add more color to the top of the finished patio. Stamps and other tools give the patio the look of natural stone or any other material that the homeowners want.

How to Install A Concrete Patio

Builders install a concrete patio in the same way that they would install a poured concrete patio. The builder uses small stakes in the ground to outline the finished shape or design of the patio, which can be a simple square shape or incorporate curved edges. Ropes and twine woven between those stakes will keep the concrete from slipping out of the edges and onto the lawn.

When the homeowners want a colored concrete, the builder will typically add a powdered dye when mixing the solution. Though the color might seem fairly light, it will dry into a darker shade. Depending on the size of the finished patio, the builder will either mix the concrete by hand or in a large mechanical drum and pour the wet concrete onto the ground. Homeowners will also need to decide if they want a patio that sits flush with the lawn or a raised patio. The builder will need to excavate the ground and use sand or gravel to keep the concrete in place.

Imprinting the Design

Concrete takes several days to cure or set, and homeowners will need to wait several days after it finishes curing before walking on the concrete or using the patio. When the concrete is still wet and soft to the touch, the builder will add the imprinted design to the top of the patio. Most builders use large stamps that they press down into the concrete. The stamp goes deep below the surface to ensure that the finished design has a smooth look.

Some homeowners choose a hand-colored imprinted design for a more natural look. After setting the stamps, the builder will use colored dyes and paints to individually paint each area of the patio. This is a good choice for homeowners who want the look of natural stone without the high cost. Hand-coloring the concrete adds to the overall cost of the patio, but it's often more affordable than using natural stone or another material.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Imprinted Concrete Patios

When a builder installs stamped or imprinted concrete, he or she will use a protective sealant on the surface of the concrete. This sealant serves as a barrier that keeps water and chemicals from reaching the concrete. Using a sealant is especially important for homeowners who want to add a patio around a swimming pool. The chemicals used to clean those pools are quite harsh, and those chemicals can eat through the surface of the patio. Homeowners must use a new layer of sealant every few years to keep the patio safe.

Homeowners choose imprinted concrete because the material is incredibly versatile. With the wide range of stamps and colors available, the finished patio can look like one made from flagstone or another type of more expensive natural stone. Concrete is a durable material that does well in cold weather climates as well. Those living in the Midwest and other regions that receive a lot of snow will find that the concrete doesn't chip when exposed to snow and ice.

While concrete is a strong material, homeowners should keep in mind that it will crack over time. Even with a sealant applied, the concrete can still absorb small amounts of moisture. That moisture will then freeze and expand before thawing and contracting. Many builders use this as a selling point. The cracks that appear in the concrete recreate the look of natural stone and add a decorative touch to the patio.

Those hoping to add a larger patio should be aware of some other potential problems. The builder will typically need to mix concrete in two or more batches, which can result in some minor flaws in the color of the finished patio. One section of the patio might be slightly darker or lighter in color than another section. Homeowners who want something with a more uniform appearance or those who don't like the idea of resealing their patios every few years might prefer building their patios with a material other than concrete.

Last updated on May 16, 2016

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