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Stamped Concrete - Using Concrete Overlays
by Josh Walker
Although it seems as if decorative concrete overlays have been around for a long time, in fact
the construction industry only first started using concrete overlays around twenty years ago.
Initially they were used in existing concrete surfaces to repair cracks and other damage. Over
the last twenty years, however, things have changed. Many people are now choosing to use
decorative concrete overlays to liven up their concrete, both inside and outside, and in
residential and commercial buildings. They're used on counter tops, floors, driveways and
more, and concrete has been transformed.
Overlays are used in a similar way to paint, and they add a new and fresh look when they are
applied. Although mostly used on concrete surfaces, concrete overlay can be used on wood
substrates. Generally overlay is used when the existing concrete is a poor candidate for
decorative concrete coloring or staining. An overlay gives the surface a fresh, smooth look, and
is perfect for delivering consistent, clean color and appeal. Using an overlay can also make it
unnecessary to remove an existing slab, so it's a much cheaper and easier option.
Most overlays are made from a mixture of cement, aggregates and polymer resins. The resins
help to make the overlay more flexible, and also more resistant to scratching and compression.
This helps to reduce the incidence of chipping, cracking, water discoloration, freeze-thaw
damage and scuffing.
Many contractors make their own overlays, whilst others buy proprietary systems from overlay
manufacturers, including Bomanite, Elite Crete and Ardex. It's also possible to buy the resin or
polymer from the manufacturer, along with recommendations for mixing it with pigment and
sand cement for a good finish. Most, however, simply offer pre-colored bags of mix, together
with a powdered polymer. All you need to add is water. It's important to pay close attention
while mixing the overlay, and measure everything carefully. If mixed properly, a good overlay
blend can be spread as thin as 1/32-inch, or even textured, sprayed or troweled.
Also, be aware that weather, the environment and other variables can affect the blend's
workability and the setting process. Still, if you're looking to have a decorative appeal to
concrete around your home or workplace, concrete overlays are a great place to start.
If you want to read more about stamped concrete, click over to Josh's site at
Tags: concrete, stamped concrete, concrete overlay, decorative concrete