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Decorative Concrete

Creating an outdoor patio or walkway with brick, flagstone or other pavers is an aesthetically pleasing look for your yard, but is not a universally viable option because of potential cost or climatic difficulties.

Patterned concrete has become a popular alternative to pavers because it is often a more cost effective material to use, and it may be an easier material to work with and install in tricky climates. A rainy climate provides challenges to using pavers because they continue to settle once they are installed—an issue that does not present a problem for the decorative concrete technique. The practical applications of using patterned concrete in your yard as opposed to pavers, and the advantages of making this choice, are well known and widely documented.

However, one important advantage that is frequently overlooked is the creative flexibility that patterned concrete allows one to have.

Traditional artistry for modern design

Decorative concrete is created through a process that is similar to old printing methods. The wet concrete is poured and smoothed, and before it is allowed to dry, a plate with a pattern etched into the exterior is applied to the wet concrete, imparting the design from the plate onto the concrete, creating a pattern. This process is repeated over the entire surface area of the concrete, usually generating a tessellating design. Color can be added in a variety of ways, either as a dye to the entire batch of wet concrete, creating a uniform and consistent color to your concrete, or by adding color to just the top layer of concrete.

The usual trend is to install patterned concrete to mimic the look of brick, flagstone or some other material when the process of installing those original materials isn’t a possibility because of cost or environmental conditions. But one of the beauties of decorative concrete is the creative license to which the process lends itself.

Unique patterns of your artistry

Because the pattern or design of choice is etched into a plate that is then stamped onto the concrete, there are literally hundreds of patterns from which to choose. Your builder or concrete installer will have a palate of plates to choose from, so you can pick a design that most reflects your taste and individuality.

Another option is to have the master design a plate custom made for a truly unique, one-of-a-kind addition to your backyard. This is a particularly popular choice with artists and designers, creating a look that will stand out from the norm.

Rainbow of pleasing colors

An additional aspect of the creative license that decorative concrete allows is the process of color application. If patterned concrete is being installed to mimic the look of brick for instance, it is a natural assumption that the concrete will by dyed the rich russet color of traditional brick.

Concrete in its natural state is a light gray color, making it literally a blank slate. If you use the process of integral color, by which the entire volume of the concrete is dyed, you can pick from a range of colors, or mix several colors to obtain an exclusive look.

Choosing the process of cast-on color, where the dye is added to only the top layer of the concrete, is another choice offering vast creativity. Having a uniform color to your sidewalk or patio is a widely accepted practice, but with the process of cast-on color, you can choose to make a pattern with color. By using the process of adding color to the top layer, the color can be swirled or striped, creating a unique look. The colors can even be alternated if you would like to have each stone a different color, or make a pattern with the color of your stones by repeating a pattern using two or three solid colors, for instance.

Patterned concrete is a stylish choice when deciding how to pave your walkway or patio, and it is also a creatively exciting choice for people who want to add a bit of personal flair to their environment.