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Decorating with Stamp Concrete

How to Decorate Pool Areas With Stamp

Concrete

in Greece and Cyprus

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Decorative or stamp concrete is an attractive and economical alternative to natural paving materials or plain poured concrete. You can achieve many different looks, and with advance planning, will be able to get just the right look for the project. NB: The following practical advice applies to any swimming pool that fits in the garden of your ex-pat home in the Greek Islands such as Crete, on Mainland Greece or Cyprus. Apart from all the advice on the upkeep of a pool, landscaping with decorative stamp concrete, helps to maintain an eco-friendly environment that is pleasing to look at throughout the long hot summer.

Practical Steps

  1. Step 1: Choose a colour and texture of concrete that complements the natural surroundings and adjacent structures. Special consideration should be given to the orientation of grout lines, particularly in repetitive patterns such as running bond, brick, or cobblestone. Generally, the area should be stamped so that long lines of the pattern run perpendicular to the length of the project. This will help reduce straight-line errors and provide a more pleasant and aesthetic overall appearance. Typically texture should run in straight lines, even when walks or drives are curved. Always perform a trial run, placing mats in the area prior to the pour. The crew should know ahead of time where the first mat will be placed, as well as aware of areas where a standard mat won't fit, and in what direction stamping will proceed. Always plan accordingly to ensure best results. It is very important to bear in mind the location of expansion and control joints(the thin lines you see in just about everything concrete). These will be required and may disrupt the visual pattern you had planned for. Your installer can direct you more with the options.
  2. Step 2: Place the concrete. Follow normal procedures with a sub-grade and concrete base that meets the planned specifications and local requirements for mix, depth and reinforcement. A normal, or retarded-set, water-reducing admixture, can be used, but admixtures must not contain Calcium Chloride. Yet, non-chloride accelerators and air-retaining admixtures can still be used. Refer to the admixture manufacturer for recommendations on the type and amount of admixture to use. (Please note: Some admixtures may affect colour.) The concrete should be no less than four inches (10cms) in thickness.
  3. Step 3: colour the concrete.There are two basic techniques:
    • Integral colour: Liquid colour into the ready mix truck. This procedure combines the colour with the mix prior to the pour and the slab is coloured throughout, or:
    • Broadcast Method: Apply colour hardener powder directly to the freshly poured concrete surface. colour hardener will penetrate the top of the concrete slab 1/8" (3 -4 mm) and colour thoroughly.
  4. Remember after initial floating and all excess bleed water has been absorbed, you should broadcast colour hardener using a wide sweeping arm movement with the intention of covering as much concrete as possible with each throw. Allow the hardener to be absorbed for several minutes until it has moistened sufficiently to work the colour in with a wood or magnesium float. One pass with the float should be sufficient; do not overwork the concrete. If necessary, repeat this process in areas where natural concrete is showing through. When you are satisfied with the colour, finish with a fresno or steel trowel.
  5. Apply the colour release agent. Texture mats will not work without the use of a release agent. This specially formulated powder prevents mats from sticking to freshly placed concrete. Generally 3.5 lbs. of material is required per 100 square feet (1.5 kilos per 9-10 square metres). As the slab approaches its optimum set for texturing, the release agent should be applied. It should be brushed onto the mats and broadcast across the surface of the concrete. There should be a uniform layer of release between the concrete and the texture mats; thick enough to prevent damp concrete from bleeding through to the mat, yet thin enough so as not to diminish the texture detail.
  6. Choose a colour of release agent to complement the colour of the concrete. A release agent with a darker tone than the colouring agent will provide depth and shadowing in the finished concrete. Most of the release agent will be removed when the finished project is pressure washed. The primary concrete colour will dominate and approximately 20% of the release agent will adhere to the surface of the concrete.
  7. Step 4: Texture the concrete. At the optimum time for texturing, great force is not necessary to press the mat into the concrete. Timing is critical so work should proceed without delay once texturing begins. Likewise, inspect the area periodically so that necessary touch-up work can begin as soon as possible.
  8. Find a team to help you lay the mats.Below is an outline of a four-man crew as suggested for the largest recommended project pour, 400 square feet (38 sqm). More experienced crews may be able to colour and stamp as much as 700 square feet (65sqm) per pour, but it is recommended to begin with smaller areas. This process can be adapted to fit specific project needs.
    • Worker 1: Fluffs the release agent throughout the application process. Broadcasts release agent. Identifies areas that require touch up work. Acts as a general helper.
    • Worker 2: Places the texture mats. The first mat should be carefully aligned, placed and tamped in at the starting point of the project. Repeat the process by placing the second mat next to the first. Place mats tightly together to avoid messy grout line patterns. Continue with mats on hand, leapfrogging the mats as they are removed and replaced in the concrete. A minimum of three mats should be used for smaller pours. Larger projects require additional mats.
    • Worker 3: Tamps the mats as they are placed. Mats should be tamped straight down into the concrete using no more force than necessary to press the mat flush to the concrete. Do not over tamp!
    • Worker 4: Carefully removes the tamped mats by lifting gradually from one side first to break the suction. Passes mats to Worker 1 for preparation of next placement.
  9. Step 5: Use a high-powered pressure washer (3000 PSI is recommended, but be careful, concrete can be damaged) approximately 24 hours after the concrete has achieved initial set. This is to remove excess release agent from the surface of the concrete. Vary the distance of the wand to the surface of the concrete so that the release is unevenly removed. Try to spray so that some of the release remains in the grout lines and deeper indentations. This will result in a more natural, aged and shadowed effect.
  10. Step 6: Seal the concrete with an appropriate decorative concrete sealer according to manufacturer directions. When the slab is thoroughly dry, clear enhancer should be applied using a roller. One gallon covers approximately 200 square feet. A light coat should be applied in one direction and a second coat should be applied in a perpendicular direction in order to avoid unwanted lines. Be careful to avoid a buildup of sealer in the corners.

Useful Tips

  • Tip 1: Always watch for the weather. Delay the project if rain is possible.
  • Tip 2: Enough mats to cover 1.5x the width of the slab.
  • Tip 3:Use a minimum of five sacks of cement per cubic yard, Coarse aggregate should not exceed 3/8" (2cm), Aggregate must be non-reactive, Minimum practicable amount of water should be used, Slump should not exceed 4" (10cm), and No high-range water reducing admixtures.
  • Tip 4: If using Liquid colour, float and finish following normal finishing procedures. When using hardener, finish concrete following normal procedures, using a tamper, screed and wood or magnesium float. The surface of the concrete must remain open. Do not steel trowel until after the final application of colour hardener.
  • Tip 5: Overall coverage requirements vary according to the colour selected and the desired intensity. Generally, 60 lbs. per 100 square feet (9kgs per 3sqm) is sufficient, although lighter or pastel colours may require as much as 100 lbs. per 100 square feet (45kgs per 9sqm). Two-thirds of the hardener should be applied at first and one-third should be withheld for the second application and final touch up.
  • Tip 6: There should be no standing water on the concrete surface when applying any hardener. Do not over float or trowel. This will draw water to the surface and reduce colour intensity. Do not sprinkle or fog water on the concrete. This will cause variations in colour intensity. Do not cover with plastic. colour Hardener settles during shipment. Before beginning, fluff the contents of the pail with your hand to break up clumps and provide a consistent airy feel throughout the pail.
  • Tip 7: Release agent settles during shipment. Before beginning, fluff the contents of the pail with your hand to break up clumps and provide a consistent airy feel throughout the pail.

Things You'll Need

  • ACCESSORY TOOLS: While texturing, you may notice areas or grout lines that require touch up to make a deeper impression. Or, you may come across hard to reach areas that require a different type of tool to make an impression. The equipment list below outlines accessory tools you may need. Anticipate your needs before the job begins and have all the necessary tools on hand.
  • Texture Mats, Floppy Mats, Release Agent, Hardener or Integral colour, Touch-up Tools, Tamper, Bull Float, Canvas Resin Hand Float, Finishing Trowel, Screed

This is a re-worked article tailor made for the BritsinCrete audience and living on one of the Greek Islands such as Crete or mainland Greece/Cyprus as an ex-pat. Original Article is to be found at wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Original Author credits are found at the original wikiHow article on How to Stamp Concrete. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

Further reading on swimming pools if you plan to rent out your property in Crete to be found on our "Getting a Greek Government approved EOT License" page.

Experiences of foreign residents of Building Swimming Pools in Greece and their comments as well as advice from Brits in Crete.