Stamped concrete is concrete, placed, colored and impressed with various patterns to achieve exquisite masonry, wood or sculptured effects. The tool that makes the impression is used like a big cookie cutter on the plastic concrete surface. "Stamped concrete" is probably the most popular generic name for the result produced by the tool, although it may also be called patterned, embossed or imprinted concrete. This method of patterning concrete can be used indoors or out, wherever you might use masonry, wood or sculpture on a horizontal surface (up to a 2:1 grade). The tools are even being used in tilt-up construction and in plant-cast wall panels. A wax coating keeps water from penetrating the slab, reducing the potential for freeze-thaw damage. In addition, the incised lines themselves act as control joints. Cracking, if it does occur, will generally follow the joint lines. This means that cracking in a stamped concrete slab is less noticeable than in a plain slab.
Stamped concrete is a cost-effective alternative to pavers, masonry and other similar products. And because it is cast monolithically one continuous pour many of the maintenance problems associated with those other products are reduced or eliminated. It is generally 40 to 70 percent less expensive to install stamped concrete than tile, cobblestone, brick, stone or sculpture. This article discusses how stamping of concrete is done, what mix to use, how to use color, what effects are possible, how to choose a system, and choice of franchise, license or purchase.