Decorative Concrete, Cost-Effective and Beautiful
The Romans mixed volcanic ash with lime and water to create structures, including aqueducts that are still standing. Today concrete is also used in decorative ways; stamping, overlaying and engraving.
The Romans also discovered that adding horse hair to concrete made it less liable to crack and adding blood made it frost resistant. Then, for 13 centuries, the secret of this building material was lost. In 1756, British engineer, John Smeaton reintroduced concrete, mixing it with hydraulic lime, pebbles and powdered brick.
Recently, with the focus on Green products, the use of recycled materials is gaining popularity. Fly ash, a by-product of coal powered power plants, acts as a cement replacement reducing the amount of cement required to produce solid concrete. And, using this by-product with cement eliminates the need to dispose of the fly ash.
Decorative concrete stamping has been around for a long time, but in the last few years it has really gotten popular. Using rubber patterns, you can create the impression of natural stone, brick and cobblestone. Get creative and you can create stamped impressions with some interesting items, such as a batik design block, or even a salvaged old tin ceiling tile. As long as you can make an impression in the wet product and your item does not stick, you can let your imagination run wild.
A decorative concrete overlay is the process of adding a thin layer of a special cement product designed to adhere to an existing surface. You can create an interesting finish to this surface by applying tape or stencils in advance, then removing those products after the surface has hardened.
Decorative concrete engraving is accomplished by the use of specialty machines to cut patterns in existing plain or colored cement which simulates grout lines, a pattern or graphics of standard building materials.
Acid Etching is a process whereby acid is applied to concrete, which in turn reacts to the lime, creating an interesting, almost stone-like appearance to the smooth finish. Once the acid etches the surface, it must be neutralized and sealed.
Recently, concrete staining has become a very popular Do It Yourself project. It is a very simple process whereby you apply a coat of stain to a clean surface, let it dry and then seal it. NOTE: For the best results, apply in a circular motion, being careful to not leave any puddles of stain.
When you are considering a home remodel project, indoors or out, check out the many options available in decorative concrete finishes available today.