Concrete can be not only a functional aspect of construction, but also an intentional design element. This can be seen in polished and stamped concrete in Portland. Decorative concrete works to manipulate the surface of concrete for aesthetic appeal. There are many methods to alter the concrete surface and create beautiful surfaces for different scenarios. They can also be applied to new concrete or as part of restoring old concrete. The following are a few popular methods to decorate concrete.
A polished concrete surface looks very different than the unpolished concrete seen in buildings. It is so smooth that it shines. Concrete is polished using diamond pads on mechanical grinders. The grit count, where the lower number is a larger sized grinding particle, starts with 6 and goes up to 3000 grit. Generally at least six stages of polishing are done, increasing the grit number each time. Above an 800 grit, concrete begins to have the characteristic shine of polished concrete. Finishing concrete with polishing is most often used for flooring, where it is a LEED certified sustainable building material, due to its low material use and durability.
Stains and Dyes
Concrete can be colored when mixing or stained after placement. Stains can either be ink or acid based. When dyes are added to a concrete mix, it permanently changes the color of the concrete. This dyes the entire concrete block the desired color. When an ink-based stain is used on curing or dried concrete, the ink penetrates the top layers of the concrete, usually with the help of a carrier similar to acetone or lacquer thinner. Acid-based stains are also placed on dried concrete and react with the concrete, mainly the lime in the cement, to change the color of the surface of the concrete.
Stamped and Engraving
The exterior layer of concrete can also be manipulated to create a specific aesthetic. Stamped concrete is created by pressing molds into concrete while it is still wet. This is often used in outside surfaces to make concrete look like bricks, stones, and slates. Engraving, on the other hand, is done after the concrete has hardened. An expert engraver can create intricate patterns on concrete using diamond tipped grinding and cutting tools designed to cut into concrete.
At The Conco Companies, we are one of the leading concrete contractors in the Western U.S. and offer a wide range of quality services and products. Our experience includes providing services for commercial, educational, parking and other construction development as well as public works projects. Please contact us for more information about our full range of premium Portland area concrete services including shotcrete.