Flat, gray concrete sounds boring, doesn’t it? Yet that’s exactly what the typical poured concrete wall is: flat and gray. No wonder customers often choose architectural block instead for retaining walls, seat walls, or signage bases.
The general public is still unaware of the many ways that poured concrete can be enhanced. Adding texture is a great way to transform an otherwise ordinary wall, and using formliners is one of the best and most economical ways to provide that texture.
These aren’t your father’s liners
The idea behind formliners is simple: Concrete conforms to the shape of whatever it’s poured against.
Before the advent of plywood or form panel form, many walls were formed with lumber and looked just like the wooden forms into which they were poured. It’s not a big stretch of the imagination to think that board-textured walls inspired the creator of the first commercial formliner. Today, many retro-thinking contractors are returning to the rustic look of board-formed verticals for projects like fireplace surrounds or architectural accent pieces.
Although wood texture may have been the inspiration for liners, it certainly didn’t stop there. Liner technology has grown by leaps and bounds.
Today, there are advanced formliners for creating massive, elaborate geometric patterns and even photographs. Imagine a poured concrete wall with a highly detailed photograph formed right into it. The amazing detail achieved with photo-engraved liners makes it possible to beautify massive structures such as building façades or acoustic walls along highways, where vast expanses of plain concrete would be unsightly.
Although such specialized liners are growing in popularity, they’re not yet commonplace. Liners are far more likely to be used on residential projects to mimic stone and brick for fire pits, seat walls, countertops, and step risers.