All You Need to Know on Imprinted Concrete & Blocked Concrete
A man laying down block paving concrete
We are going to be discussing the major benefits that come with imprinted concrete. We have selected five of the most popular reasons why you should consider installing imprinted concrete.
What is Pattern Imprinted Concrete?
To put it simply, patterned concrete (also known as stamped concrete) involves pouring concrete on a sub-base, then a colour is applied followed by a hardener. This is unlike traditional concreting, which typically involved using blocks to create your finish.
Once the concrete is wet, this is when the pattern is applied. You can choose from a variety of prints, the most common being brickwork, textured stone and ashlar stone. Patterned concrete is a popular choice for domestic properties, specifically lining driveways as they add curb appeal to your property.
1. Good quality print
The most important thing to consider is the quality of the printed concrete. Fresh concrete requires extreme care, dedication and patience to lay properly, less its form becomes inconsistent and you end up with a incomplete and structurally poor concrete floor.
In most cases, a contractor would use 6 – 8 rigid printing mats and one flexible mat in a set. Around six mats are required to span the narrowest section of the driveway, whereas the flexible mats, as you might have guessed, are used to access and print areas where the rigid mats won’t fit. You can expect most printing mats to come in at 600mm by 600mm but there is flexibility regarding matt size, you just need to know how big you want the mats and then research the best prices.
2. Color consistency
Color consistency is something you will need to consider when installing imprinted concrete to ensure your flooring achieves the colour you’re looking for. The main components of patterned concrete include color surface hardener and antique release agents.
If the color surface hardener is not applied properly or there isn’t enough of it, it will result in a poor final appearance. This is especially noticeable on larger commercial jobs, such as retail shop flooring.
For big commercial jobs, it will take several concrete deliveries and this will result in slight color differences in each concrete mix. What the surface hardener does is match the colours together when applied. This is ideal for larger jobs that take more than a few days to complete.
For each square metre of patterned concrete, you will need approximately 2.5kg of colour surface hardener. When applying it to high traffic areas, such as driveways, parking spaces and steps, we’d advise you apply more hardener to bear the extra traffic.
Note: if you’re buying concrete that has already been colored, you cannot strengthen it further with hardener as this will impact its appearance. Additionally, ensure that the concrete is mixed properly if you are buying it pre-coloured. Otherwise, again, this will lead to a poor quality, patchy finish.
Also, be aware that before the release agent is washed off, your floor will appear darker than the color you selected. This is normal and can be fixed when you wash off the release agent.
It is essential that you remove all the antique release agent, otherwise it will not bond to the concrete. Again, this will result in a patchy appearance, but it can be fixed by removing the sealant and repeating the cleaning/sealing process.
3. Ensuring Long-Term Durability Ensuring Long-Term Durability
The material used for the sub-stone base merged with the subgrade (the ground below the base, it could be soil, stone etc) is essential to ensure durability of the concrete floor above. In addition, the concrete mix applied also plays a huge part in assuring the structural integrity remains strong for years to come.
This is especially important in high traffic areas, such as driveways, multi-storey car parks and warehouses operating machinery daily.
4. Reduce the Chance of the Concrete Cracking
If you are using patterned concrete for driveways, be sure to have at least 300kgs of cement per cubic metre when applying. In colder weather, you will need more, 350-380kgs as an estimate.
You can also choose to add an air entertaining agent to help enhance the floor’s durability and resistance to cracking from heavy traffic and weather.
Note: It is absolutely essential that the concrete is the correct mix. When the concrete is professionally mixed, it drastically reduces the likelihood of it cracking. This is very important for driveways and carparks; they should be at least 100mm thick to handle the weight of vehicles. For domestic paved areas, the concrete thickness should fall between 150-175mm.
On highly trafficked areas or where, for whatever reason, crack control joints cannot be cut in, the concrete should be thicker; 150 mm for domestic paved areas.
Using a slip membrane where required
There is some controversy regarding when and whether to use slip membranes. Some companies may use a slip membrane to allow the concrete to move independently, which reduces the build-up of stress and essentially lessens the likelihood of the concrete cracking golf wedge sets for sale. On the other hand, others may choose not to use them as they prefer to allow the concrete to bleed into the stone naturally.
The decision whether to use or not use a slip membrane is up to the concrete contractor, it is not compulsory.
Position contraction joints correctly
Contraction joints and movement points are another factor that spark controversy, this time between contractor and customer. As their name suggests, contraction and movement joints are positioned in areas where the concrete is assumed to crack; or alternatively, are placed so that the concrete cracks in this place to ensure it doesn’t crack somewhere more awkward.
These joints are usually cut in high stress areas, such as external corners of buildings. Maximum slab size within the paved area should also be restricted to 20m2, with a maximum length to weight ratio of 2:1.
Timing when you cut the contraction joints
Cutting the joints sooner rather than later is strongly advised to ensure the cracks don’t appear before it’s too late. Cutting the joints is relatively straightforward, they must be made on the same day as the pour and need to be cut about a quarter of the depth of the concrete. Later, you need to utilise a diamond saw cut around half of the concrete’s depth. Do not make a cut immediately through the concrete slab.
5. Reducing Maintenance & Maximising Results
Using a solvent-based acrylic sealant on patterned concrete (only once dry) will enhance its overall appearance. Water-based acrylics are more problematic, so stay away from these regarding patterned concrete. It’s also worth applying the sealant every four years or so to keep up the appearance of your patterned concrete. This is not compulsory but it will keep your driveway (or wherever our patterned concrete is installed) looking great for years to come.
Filling the contraction joints
Fortunately, pattern imprinted concrete requires little to no maintenance once installed (aside from cleaning to keep up appearances). While it still may require re-sealing every couple of years, this is not a labour-intensive job and in the long run, will save you money as it is far less likely to become damaged or tarnished.
Additionally, to alleviate the threat of weeds and undergrowth breaking through, it’s important you use silicone sealant to fill the joints. Silicone fillers come in several colors, so find one that best suits your patterned concrete (silicone actually improves the appearance of your concrete).
CONTACT US TODAY | Alzaria Construction