Adding texture to fresh concrete is getting easier every day. The range of stamping products and tools is growing at a steady rate. Texture skins, for example, can extend the range of possible effects and provide beautiful patterns. Stamps can be used to create herringbone brick walkways, borders around a patio edge, individual art elements—like a company logo or an Aztec calendar, and so much more. However, when choosing a stamp or stamping system there are a few tips that can be very helpful.

The first tip is a simple one. Pick a good pattern—one that looks natural and interesting. Remember someone has to look at it every day.

Stamps must mate properly and be dimensionally accurate. If not, you end up with gaps and holes.

Stiffness is another important issue for stamps, although not for texture skins. The stamp needs to be stiff enough that it won't push out or deform under the weight of someone walking on it. If a stamp is too stiff, then beating or tamping can sometimes cause blowouts, and suction can also make it difficult to remove.

Stamping concrete can be a tiring job. Make sure the stamp has convenient handles. You must be able to pick up and place the stamp without it dragging over the concrete.

With tampers, a solid connection between the plate and the rod is recommended. You don't want the tamper wearing out before you do.

The table on page 45 provides a longer list of stamping tool manufacturers. Circle the reader service number for more information.

Urethane tamper for texture mats

Ideal for setting decorative concrete texture mats, this tamper is coated with urethane so it won't cut mats while they're being tamped in-place in the concrete. The urethane coating provides protection for urethane texture mats as well as the company's lighter-weight polypropylene E-Pro mats. The tamper has a 12x12-inch base and a 50-inch fiberglass handle. Bon Tool Co. 800-444-7060.

Customized concrete rollers

In addition to offering its standard roller for stamping concrete, the company also custom builds Quick Imprint Roller Systems to meet user, precast, and tilt-up needs. A variety of patterns are available, including special patterns for extruded machinery, slip-form equipment, and preventing livestock slippage. The company also offers wall and pillar liners, liquid colors, and coatings. Quick Imprint Systems Inc. 800-746-8820.

Custom stamping tools

Offer your clients something extraordinary with customized concrete stamps—like this Aztec calendar—for patios and walkways. Unique patterns, artwork, textures, company logos, even signatures can be made into stamps that will provide beauty and distinction to almost any decorative product. Pacific Concrete Images. 949-581-0270.

Border art stamps and tools

With Border Art stamps and Decorative Border Art Tools, users can create stamped concrete walkways, floors, and decks with decorative edges, framed artwork, and running borders. These stamps and tools create both modern- and ancient-style carved designs. Place the stamp first, then cover with desired texture skin to create grapevines, dolphins, and more. Proline Concrete Tools Corp. 800-795-4750.