The following is a guest blog post, written by Bill Michaels of Patterned Concrete. We were curious about this cool product, and wanted to share his info. He agreed to write about both the pros and the cons of the product, so our readers can get a balanced picture! – Noreen and Amy
Florida weather lends itself to relaxing in the pool. But you want a great environment around that cool water, too, right? The pool for most of us is another area of the house that should be designed with beauty in mind. A key part of that is the surface we walk on. It has to be beautiful but also safe and durable. And stamped concrete is a great option that meets all of those criteria.
What is Stamped Concrete?
Stamped concrete is real concrete but the surface is colored and “stamped” with a design to make it appear to be another surface. It can look like brick, natural stone, pavers or even wood.
You’ve probably seen stamped concrete without even realizing it because it looks so realistic. As concrete, it’s reasonably priced and holds up well. But it goes beyond the normally drab appearance of concrete to create a work of art. And it can be designed for almost any look you’re trying to achieve, from hand-hewn stone to wood.
Versatility of Stamped Concrete for Pool Decks
You want your pool area to reflect a certain mood or theme. It may continue the architecture of your house, or it may be a totally different concept. Perhaps you’d like to divide your yard into different sections, even. You may have an outdoor kitchen, the pool itself, and perhaps a walkway through the garden. And you may want each to be distinct.
One of the great things about stamped concrete is that it can be used to create the surface for all these areas. Your contractor simply colors the concrete differently and stamps it for the effect you want.
Want a paver walkway? No problem. Cobblestone kitchen floor? Easy. Wood panels for the pool deck? You got it. And your visitors can hardly tell that it’s not “the real thing” until they’re on top of it and really paying attention.
A pool deck, in particular, has to be a reliable, safe material where you’re free to walk barefoot and enjoy the warm Florida sun. Its appearance has to hold up over time and contribute to the overall atmosphere. Stamped concrete fits the bill.
Advantages of Stamped Concrete Compared to Other Surfaces
Why would you choose this option compared to others? There are several reasons.
Stamped concrete provides significant durability. It’s concrete, after all. It holds up well under the sun and rain. It’s a surface that going to serve you well for a long time.
It’s also easy to maintain. Regular maintenance just involves basic cleaning – just sweep it off. You can choose to power wash it if you want, and even use a mild liquid detergent on it as needed. The biggest step you’ll need to take is having the surface resealed every two to three years; this helps seal in the color and keep it vibrant. Your contractor would be glad to do this for you and it’s extremely inexpensive to have done.
As we mentioned above, stamped concrete also provides a great deal of flexibility. There are so many designs available and more are developed all the time.
Another advantage is the price. Stamped concrete is competitive with other surface materials in price, and is a good bit cheaper than some types. Combined with the low-maintenance aspect, you’ll come out ahead economically.
Worried about burning your toes? Concrete reflects a lot more heat than brick or tile. As always, lighter colors are cooler, but the concrete itself stays cooler as well. Overall, it’s a more comfortable surface to work on in the heat.
You can also avoid some of the pitfalls of other materials. Natural stone or pavers can be uneven from the start. They become worse as they settle. Wood can, of course, splinter. But you avoid those problems with stamped concrete. You don’t want to trip, stub your toe, or have to pull a splinter out of your foot. With stamped concrete, you won’t have those issues.
Pool Safety and Stamped Concrete
Pool safety is always important and many factors have to be taken into account to keep everyone safe. That includes the safety of the surface around it.
Since you’re dealing with a surface that’s usually wet, it’s important to do what’s necessary to reduce the risk of slips and falls. Since stamped concrete has a seal on it to protect its appearance, it can be slippery. However, an anti-slip agent mixed in the sealant helps keep you safe.
This mix is a normal part of the installation. But it’s always good to ask your contractor about this and other steps that might help you stay safe.
Are There Any Drawbacks?
Nothing is perfect, and we do want to present the reality as well. The advantages are far greater than the disadvantages, but here are some things you’ll have to deal with.
First, concrete cracks. There’s no way to avoid that. That doesn’t mean it’s going to fall apart, but at some point you’ll see points where the concrete does split. However, your contractor knows how to lay the concrete so that usually it will concrete in the best spaces. In other words, the cracks will be in places that least affect the usability and appearance of the surface.
Also, there may be some issues with saltwater pools and stamped concrete. There are still divided opinions among professionals about the presence and seriousness of the issue. But in some cases, it seems that the salt has worn through the sealant. Also, the salt seems to find its way into cracks in the concrete, which can cause the concrete to flake.
Usually this problem with salt happens where there’s a lot of salt dropping – for instance, where people climb out of the pool. It’s only in those spots where excessive salt accumulates that there’s an issue. Again, the jury’s still out on this, but it is something to ask your contractor about. They may recommend a different type of sealant. Also, it’s a good idea to hose down the deck anyway after use.
Stamped concrete offers a chance to make your pool deck look great for a reasonable cost. It is both beautiful and durable, so you know it’s going to be a great benefit to your yard for a long time. There are tons of great designs and colors to go for, too!
About the Author
Bill Michaels works for Patterned Concrete as a media outreach specialist. The company is an expert and pioneer in stamped concrete since 1972. It has grown from its Toronto-area roots to have franchises across North America.