1. What is Decorative Concrete?

Concrete has been used as a core building material for centuries. Typically specified more for its functional properties, concrete has grown as an aesthetic element over the last decades. Decorative concrete, sometimes referred to as architectural concrete, combines the strength and structural components of Portland cement based products with color, design and shape. The various finishes can include, but are not limited to, stamped or embossed concrete, integrally colored concrete, exposed aggregate finishes, stained and dyed concrete, decorative overlays and toppings, polished concrete, and decorative sealers and coatings. Reference the Bomanite International product systems page for more information.
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2. Why should I select Decorative Concrete?

Decorative concrete, and all the systems, finishes and colors available, is an excellent choice for any hardscape project. By combining the durability of concrete with the texture and color options Bomanite International has to offer, decorative concrete is the best choice for any concrete project. With 50 years of proven history, decorative concrete finishes can add color, customization and durability to any project.

3. What is Stamped and Embossed Concrete?

Concrete can be stamped or embossed to resemble other materials such as stone, tile, brick, earth or other free form patterns. Other shapes such as sea shells, animal foot prints and graphic designs can also be embossed into the concrete surface. These designs and patterns can be embossed into the surface by use of pattern tools, textured skins, textured rollers, natural objects, saw cuts or scoring, or a combination of these techniques. Base color in the concrete is achieve through the use of integral color or color hardener. A secondary or antiquing color is achieved by using release powder. The variation in color, design and pattern are limited only by the designer, architect or owner's imagination, and the installers experience and ability. Stamped and embossed concrete is an excellent option for most interior and exterior commercial or residential hardscapes, walking areas, parking areas, recreation areas, sidewalks, and amusement parks.
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4. What stamp patterns are available?

When considering stamped or embossed concrete, there are hundreds of patterns and textures to select from. These range from very light sandstone textures to aggressive stone or tile patterns. There are also wood textures or custom geometric shape patterns.
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5. What to consider when selecting stamped of embossed concrete?

Selecting the proper texture is very important to the overall success of a stamped concrete project. Always consider the end use when making your selection. If tables and chairs will be located on the stamped concrete, lighter textures are best to avoid an uneven surface. If the area has high foot traffic or requires a non-slip surface, an aggressive texture or pattern may be best. Other factors to consider are matching the type of natural stone or hardscape materials found in the area, as well as the color scheme of the project.

6. What is the best sealer for stamped and embossed concrete?

Stamped and embossed concrete is typically sealed with an acrylic film forming sealer. This type of sealer usually enhances the color and provides a level of shine ranging from gloss to matte. Solvent based film forming sealers tend to provide a higher shine and more color enhancement compared to water based film forming sealers.

7. What is Integrally Colored Concrete?

Concrete where pigments are added during the mixing process to achieve a through body color is known as integrally colored concrete. The color pigments can be a fine powder or liquid, and are available in a wide range of earth tone colors. Integrally colored concrete is an excellent option for most interior or exterior commercial or residential hardscapes, stamped and embossed concrete, walking areas, parking areas, recreation areas, sidewalks, and amusement parks.
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8. What is color hardener?

Color hardener is dry powder blend of specialty cements, pigments, sand and additives that are broadcast on plastic concrete. The color hardener is worked into the plastic concrete with trowels until the surface has achieved a uniform color. This method of coloring concrete is often used for stamped or embossed concrete.
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9. Which is better, integral color or color hardener?

Color hardener provides additional surface durability and more color choices. Integral color has color through the entire concrete slab, and is easier to use. Both have about the same cost when comparing use on a 10 cm thick concrete slab. Both methods will provide a vibrant and durable colored concrete surface when installed properly. The most important factor to consider is which method the installer is trained and experienced to perform.

10. What are Exposed Aggregate Finishes?

Exposed aggregate concrete is where the surface has been mechanically or chemically manipulated to expose the sand or aggregate at surface. The depth of exposure can range from less than 1 mm to 7 mm. The type of sand and aggregate can be controlled to achieve a specific color or look. Exposed aggregate concrete is an excellent option for exterior commercial or residential hardscapes, walking areas, recreation areas, sidewalks, pool decks, and amusement parks.
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11. What is Stained and Dyed Concrete?

Applying a liquid colorant to cured concrete or decorative topping, also known as post coloring, is a popular method for coloring concrete. Using concrete stains or dyes can achieve color affects ranging from translucent color washes to opaque solid color finishes. Depending on the desired color and affect, these stains and dyes can be used on both interior and exterior concrete and cement based toppings. Stains are an excellent coloring choice for exterior or interior concrete. Concrete dyes are designed for interior use on concrete and polished concrete floors.
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12. When to select stain vs. dye for concrete?

Stains provide a UV stable color to concrete that is translucent. Stains can be used both interior and exterior to post color gray or colored concrete. Stains can range from reactive Chemical Stains to non-reactive Con-Color water based stains. Dyes are for interior use only, and provide a deep rich translucent color. Dyes are often used to color polished concrete floors.

13. What are Decorative Overlays and Toppings?

Decorative overlays and toppings can be used for both new construction and for repair of existing surfaces. They are made from a combination of cement and polymer and provide an alternative to removal and replacement of existing old or damaged concrete. These product systems can applied by spray, roller, trowel, squeegee, or broom depending on the texture and desired finish. They range from 1/16 in. (1.5 mm) up to 1/2 in. (13 mm) or more in thickness. During installation, overlays can be artistically embellished by use of inlaid inclusions, integral color, stenciling, and surface texturing or patterning. Some systems can be polished or ground to produce a smooth reflective finish.
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14. What is the difference between a microtopping and a stampable overlay?

Microtoppings are thin section polymer modified cement based toppings that range in thickness from 1.5 mm to 3 mm. These types of overlays are used to coat existing concrete that is in good condition where a new top layer of concrete is desired. Microtoppings can be applied by spray, roller, broom, squeegee and trowel to achieve any number of light texture finishes. Stampable overlay is a thick section polymer modified topping that range in thickness from 6 mm to 12 mm. This type of overlay is used to coat existing concrete that is in good condition where a new textured or embossed surface is desired. Stampable overlay provides the look of stamped concrete without placing a full depth concrete slab.

15. What is polished concrete?

Polished concrete is an architectural finish that combines the use of diamond grinding in combination with chemical densification and hardening to produce a smooth surface that is durable, light-reflective, and easy to maintain. Some typical uses for polished concrete include schools, airports, retail spaces, casinos, restaurants, warehouses, manufacturing buildings, hospitals and medical facilities, office complexes, public libraries, and other public use areas subject to high foot traffic.
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16. Do I need to seal polished concrete?

Polished concrete does not require a film forming "sealer". A stain guard penetrating sealer is often used to protect the polished surface at the time of installation. Over time additional coats of penetrating stain guard can be applied to maintain the level of protection.

17. How do I maintain polished concrete?

Polished concrete is best maintained by regular dry brooming. Occasional wet mopping with a pH neutral soap and water solution will help with any dirt and contamination. Never use acid or aggressive cleaner to maintain polished concrete.

18. What is a decorative concrete sealer?

Most decorative concrete systems and finishes are not considered complete until a sealer has been applied. A sealer provides protection from traffic, contamination and the elements. Some sellers produce a film that provides a layer of protection across the surface of the concrete, while others may be penetrating, which protect from within. Sealers can darken and enhance the substrate, produce shine ranging from high gloss to matte, or may not change the look of the concrete in any way.

19. What is the difference between a film forming sealer and penetrating sealer?

A film forming sealer produces a thin layer of resin across the floor surface to provide protection against wear and contamination. A penetrating sealer completely impregnates the concrete surface and provides protection against water and chemical contamination from within the concrete. A film forming sealer produces a level shine ranging from gloss to matte. Penetrating sealers produce no shine.