If you want the look of stone, brick or wood on your outdoor patio or pool deck, but want the low-maintenance and lower expensive of concrete as well, consider having your concrete stamped. Concrete stamps come in many different patterns and designs. Each company typically has its own patterns, which are usually made by casting the material you want to emulate.
Brick and Cobblestone Patterns
Bricks and cobblestones are popular materials for paving areas around patios, driveways and pools. That's why many manufacturers produce brick and cobblestone concrete stamps. While each company's pattern may be slightly different, most companies will produce similar types of designs, such as:
- Running bond patterns - the traditional off-set brick pattern
- Fan patterns
Most of these patterns are available with brick, cobblestone and "used" or antiqued brick texture and sizing to them. Some are also available in "wavy" brick patterns or in rounded bricks or stones to help complete rounded or fan patterns.
Brick and cobblestone patterns like these work well in gardens that have paths, as well as walkways between areas like driveways and homes. The work best when they can be combined in pattern, such as a section of brick leading you through the garden to the patio, where the pattern changes from running bond to a large European fan to spread out and accentuate the shape of the area.
Bricks and cobblestones can be stained in a variety of colors, but are often either left in the traditional gray of concrete, or are they may be stained brick red, sand or in a mixed color pattern to give them the appearance of true bricks or cobblestones.
Natural Stone Pavers
Natural stone is another popular material for use around patios, pools and walkways. Depending upon the area, slate, bluestone or travertine may be used regularly on these areas in either square tiles or "natural" random stone patterns. The designs may be made up of several different sized stones put together in an Ashlar or 5-piece tile pattern, or they may be laid like other tiles in straight, diagonal or running bond patterns.
Natural stone-style stamps come in several different designs. They may be made to look like:
- Bluestone pavers
- Vermont slate
- Chinese slate
- Brazilian slate
- Tumbled or antiqued travertine
Shapes may include:
- Octagon and dot patterns
- Random stones
- Running bonds
- Square tile patterns
These patterns work really well around pools, rock gardens, and in wide open patios. Because concrete is so much easier to care for than natural stone, these make a good alternative for homeowners who live in freeze/thaw climates where natural stone pavers would be likely to crack over time. Depending upon the style of the home, large pavers made to look like bluestone or slate work well with New England, Cape Cod style homes, while sandstone, Chinese slate and travertine work better with the styles of homes in warmer climates such as Arizona and California.
All these stamped patterns may be stained in a variety of different tones so they mimic the look of authentic stone, which has a naturally wide range of color variation.
For some modern and contemporary style homes, have a wood plank patio fits in well with the clean lines of the home and garden. Wood doesn't hold up well to the elements, which is why concrete stamped wood designs work so well in these areas.
Wood stamps are typically done in planks that measure anywhere from 4- to 6-inches in width and vary in length like real wood planks. Some manufacturers may also include "nail holes" on the end of each plank to help give them a different look. The planks themselves are lightly textured to give a tactile wood grain, and are usually stained in either a natural wood tone or in "weathered" appearance, although some may be done in a weathered "painted" stain that makes the wood appear as if it had been painted and has now worn away.
Patterns that are typically available in wood plank include:
- Boardwalk "random length" planks
- Parquet squares laid in basketweave patterns
- Herringbone patterns
- Block ends
Other Stamped Designs
Stamped designs are not limited to mimicking materials like stone, brick or wood. Some are used to create decorative or unique patterns that work well on patios or in very decorative gardens that need a focal point in the center.
Medallions are one design that get used frequently in this way. Medallions can be stained a variety of bright colors to make them stand out from the surrounding pavers, and they are often combined with either brick or cobblestone stamps in a fan pattern to accentuate them.
Some companies also offer custom stamp designs that can be used on concrete counters as well as outdoors. These include shapes and patterns such as:
- Pine needles
- Bird "footprints"
Designs like these are usually hand stained in very vibrant colors to make them stand out, but they may be left natural to give a more subtle impression in the concrete. Using designs like these is usually done on walkways in gardens or on "skinned" patios that need just a little bit of fun or whimsy to bring them to life.
Stamp Your Concrete
With the many different stamp designs available, you'll have no trouble finding something that matches the look and style of your house or garden. Consider opting for stamped concrete over other, higher maintenance options and enjoy the beauty and low maintenance of your new yard.