Concrete is one of the most versatile building and paving materials in existence but, for a long time, it was also sadly limited in terms of style and appearance. In recent years, however, there has been a huge proliferation of new decorative concrete finishes, ranging from affordable (but glamorous) to high-end with trendy effects. The goal of decorative concrete finishes is to give the plain material or existing style a total makeover, delivering a beautiful new space without the cost of replacing the concrete.
Many people don’t realize just how many decorative concrete options there are. Here are four of the most common:
1. Acid Stain – Acid staining remains one of the most popular and attractive forms of decorative concrete finish. This is not only because it is affordable and easy to apply, but also because it is the only decorative finish that brings out the beauty of concrete itself rather than disguising it. Acid stain creates a smooth, colorful, glossy finish over concrete that is at once industrial, yet stylish. It has been used on the floors of art museums, hotels, café patios, home terraces and luxury lofts. While the variety of color tints is limited, the look shows off the raw beauty of concrete in a chic, tasteful way.
2. Trowel-on – Another common decorative concrete finish is to trowel down a textured finish over regular concrete. This involves adding a thin layer of wear-resistant cement which is artistically troweled to mimic the patterns of natural slate or other smooth, rippled stone finishes. This coat can be tinted in a wide variety of color tones, and has been used to great effect in patios, restaurants, business lobbies and outdoor walkways around the world.
3. Stamped overlays – What do you do if you already have a solid concrete slab laid down, but want to make it look like rows of bricks, pavers, or other stamped concrete effects? These days, you don’t have to tear out that expensive slab. You can simply top it with thin stamped overlays. Again, a thin layer of wear-resistant texture is put over the top, but rather than being troweled it is stamped with the textures of your choice. Smart combinations of colors and textures can provide the look of a flagstone courtyard, a brick walkway or natural slate pavers—complete with the stamped divide between one paver and the next—at a fraction of the cost.
4. Knockdowns – Adding knockdowns over your concrete is like adding high quality indoor/outdoor flooring to your paved space. Available in nearly limitless varieties of tile, stone, and brick finish, these knockdowns are textured, nonslip surfaces that look amazing.
What is your favorite concrete finish?
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