Stamped or decorative concrete refers to concrete that is painted or stained, usually to look like another material such as brick or stone. Decorative concrete usually refers to concrete that has an aggregate added; this might be a type of soft glass or gravel that gives the concrete texture and a better appearance. If you're thinking of opting for stamped or decorative concrete for your home, note a few questions to ask a contractor so you know what's involved with the work and how to care for it properly.
1. Will the color match exactly?
It can be shortsighted to expect stamped concrete to exactly match a color you see online or the color of your home's aluminum siding. Contractors will try to mix colors to an exact shade but the materials used to make the concrete can add certain shading to the color that cannot be fixed, and sunlight and extreme weather conditions can fade even the most durable color over time. Sunlight can also affect the appearance of color shades. If there is an obvious difference in the color that's being poured versus what you ordered then you should discuss this with a contractor, but don't expect an exact match with your concrete like you would when matching a paint chip at the hardware store.
2. How can you keep the color from fading or finish from being damaged?
It's good to discuss how to maintain your driveway with a concrete contractor so you know how to care for your choice in particular; for example, you may want to reseal your driveway regularly, but your contractor can note how often this should be done. Too much sealant might cause water to pool around the concrete so it actually causes cracks and damage. You may need to avoid putting wear and tear on an aggregate, which can mean not parking your heavy trailers or RV in the driveway where the tires might tear up the decorative finish. Ask your contractor for personalized recommendations when it comes to your concrete finish in particular so it will look its best for years to come.
3. Ask if it can be installed over your existing concrete
Before you assume that you should start tearing up your driveway in order to have new, decorative concrete installed, ask if the contractor will visit your property and consider pouring the new concrete over the old. This would save you money on the cost of removing your old driveway. In some cases, an old driveway might strengthen the concrete as the older layer provides a solid base for the new concrete, but if your old driveway is severely cracked or chipped, this may not be an option.