Paths and outdoor flooring made from stamped concrete are pretty durable. After all, concrete truly is one of the hardest materials out there. That being said, there are not many things in the world that are truly impervious to all damage, and concrete is certainly not one of them.
Whether it is the effect of general wear and tear of everyday use or perhaps damage from sunlight and weather, over time you may notice small cracks begin to appear in your stamped concrete.
You may also see some fading where color has been used – although giving your stamped concrete a good scrubbing can often offset this!
“You may also notice cracks appearing very shortly after the installation of your stamped concrete” – says Derrick a concrete contractor based in Indianapolis, Indiana. He also mentioned that these are known as shrinkage cracks, and they can appear if imprinting tools like the rigid mats have been used when the concrete is too hard.
Check out some of Derrick’s decorative work below:
Because of the nature of concrete stamping, it is sometimes unavoidable to end up with the small cracks. The window of opportunity for stamping and crafting the concrete can often be very small – so small in fact that even the professionals can make mistakes.
There are also a variety of variables at play that affect how quickly the concrete dries – and thus, how long your contractor will have to work with the concrete. The weather on the day, particularly if it is sunny, the mixture in the concrete itself and even the color of the concrete can affect the drying time (as dark colors attract and trap heat, so a concrete surface treated with dark colors will dry that bit faster).
Now you have a good idea how and why these smalls cracks can form, the next question will, I imagine, be can they be repaired?
Happily, yes they can be. One of the best ways is to utilize what is referred to as a colored cement paste. Some contractors will also call this method a color patch, for the obvious reason that they are like small patches of color that can be applied onto a crack to repair it. If you’ve ever fixed the tire of a bicycle using a small rubber patch then you will have a good idea what we are referring to here as it’s broadly the same principle.
If you are trying to decide between the type of patio to have installed, be sure to check out Derrick’s recent article on wood vs. concrete patios. It really shows the argument from both sides.
You see, many color manufactures will sell color patches in kits, ready to apply to cracks. The good thing with these is that, as they are supplied by the same company who supply the bulk of the color in your stamped concrete path the color patch will be of exactly the same color and chemical composition. This will allow it to blend seamlessly with your path.
All you do is blend the colored powder of the color patch into a mixture of concrete bonding polymer and water. The ratio for the mix of these two ingredients is 50:50 by the way. You will be left with a smooth paste of the same color as your path. Using a spatula or even your own finger (put on a pair of rubber or latex gloves first!) simply smear the color patch over the cracks.
Voila! One repaired stamped concrete pathway!