Various materials appear almost daily in the modern construction industry to create unique exteriors, even if you are, to put it mildly, not an artist. To do this, you can use the most common building materials for printed concrete and concrete is no exception.
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With the help of special dies made of metal or polyurethane, the gray concrete surface can be turned into marble slabs or stone. This type of surface is called stamped concrete. It is about this material and how to make it yourself that we will discuss in the article below.
The Importance of Using This Technology and Its Possibilities Printed Concrete
Printed concrete is a regular surface with an embossed pattern that is applied using special tools. Typically, the design imitates materials and textures such as
- paving stones;
- a rock;
- Animal skins.
If you want to create a genuinely original terrace, then you can easily find stamps with leaves of various trees, traces of prehistoric animals.
Such floors are often made in shopping centers, restaurants, and hotels, and this technology is also used to equip garden paths, areas near the pool, sidewalks, gazebos, and terraces.
Also, the technology and formulation of printed concrete are excellent for restoration work. For example, it became necessary to replace some elements in the old, dilapidated pavement. These days it would be highly problematic to find the same material that was used in its construction. But by stamping a concrete surface, you can create a replica of old building material.
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Variety of Stamps for Printed Concrete
Dies for printed concrete were initially made of aluminum and were large structures consisting of a mold and a handle. Such products are perfect for simulating simple surfaces, such as brick or stone, but it is impossible to create complex relief patterns.
In this regard, polyurethane stamps benefit. For their production, natural materials are used, the relief of which can then be transferred to concrete. Such symbols repeat the comfort of the material as accurately as possible, and therefore only with their help can you create an original and natural texture ensemble.
Any stamps can be bought or ordered at a specialized center. When choosing this tool, it is better to ask the seller for its rigidity. The more complex the product, the easier it is to work with it since you do not have to put in much effort to print.
Step 1: Make a concrete foundation.
The blind area using printed concrete technology requires the arrangement of the foundation for stamping. Such a base is the most ordinary reinforced concrete surface, for the creation of which cement grade M350 or higher was used.
The process of arranging this surface in Printing concrete consists of the following steps:
- First of all, you need to mark the boundaries of the site. For this, you should use pegs and a long cord;
- then you will need to remove the top layer of soil and equip the soil bottom with a rammer;
- after that, it is necessary to pour a small layer of crushed stone (no more than 15 centimeters) and tamp it again;
- wooden formwork should be installed along the boundaries of this site;
- Reinforcing elements must be laid in the formwork so that they are raised above ground level by five centimeters – for this. You need to put stones or bricks;
- Now you need to mix concrete. You can do it manually, using a concrete mixer, or even order a ready-made solution;
- the mortar should be poured into the formwork, and its surface should be leveled with a metal rule;
- after that, it is necessary to compact the solution with a vibrating screen;
- The last step is to smooth the top layer to achieve an even surface without any defects.
Step 2: Applying a Colored Hardener in Printed Concrete
While the solution has not yet had time to set, it is necessary to cover it with a colored hardener. This material will paint the surface in the desired color and increase the strength of the entire site. The colored hardener is sold as a mixture containing coloring components, a viscous element, and fine quartz sand and granite particles.
The mixture is dispersed, so its elements easily fall into the pores of the solution and fill them with themselves. As a result, concrete structures become much denser and more reliable, acquiring the desired color.
The colored hardener should be dispensed immediately after the solution has set slightly. Roughly, this happens when all the moisture evaporates from the surface. Then you need to manually sprinkle the mixture on the treated area, starting from the middle of the room and moving to the edges.
The powder must be spread appropriately to minimize the amount of material blown away by the wind. When applying the hardener, make the same hand movements as when throwing a ball in bowling. That is, you should scoop up a portion of the powder, take your hand behind your back, and then throw the powder forward with a sharp movement at the waist level.
After you have applied the first layer of this material, you need to wait about ten minutes – during this period, the material will be absorbed into the concrete. After that, you need to smooth the surface of the concrete with a magnesium trowel. At this stage, you need to pay special attention to the corners and carefully process them with a corner trowel to look neat after drying.
Now you can start applying the second coat of hardener. You need to repeat all the steps that were described above. Only after applying the consumables should you use a steel float and iron the resulting surface again.
Step 3: Release Agent Application in Printed concrete
The release agent is used to prevent the stamped concrete molds from sticking to the surface during printing. In addition, the material tints the surface, giving it a more subtle shade of color. This consumable is produced as a dry powder, but sometimes a liquid separator can also be found.
As a rule, it is the dry mix that is used to create stamped concrete. Therefore, it must be evenly distributed over the entire area with a special brush. Pour the material into a dry plastic bucket and dip the brush into it.
Step 4: Stamping the Surface
Before printing out the concrete surface, ensure that the material has already acquired the required degree of hardening. The ideal consistency to start stamping should be like plasticize. If you start the process too early, the concrete will flow out under the influence of the stamp.
But on the other hand, if tightened with stamping, the concrete can become too hard, and you will have to work very hard to stamp it. It should also be noted that the tools may not print an overly complicated layer of concrete at the end of all work.
To determine the degree of hardening of the solution, touch your finger to several points in different parts of the surface. If fingerprints remain a few millimeters deep, then it’s time to start the stamping process.
Step 5: Elimination of Defects
Very often, a slight displacement of the material can occur at the joints of the dies. It also happens that due to weak ramming, the seams of the embossed surface look smeared. To correct these shortcomings, you must arm yourself with a roller and textured laces. With a roller, the surface to be treated should be rolled over the entire area, and various irregularities should be corrected using textured laces.
Step 6: Cutting Shrinkage Seams
To eliminate stress in the cured material and prevent cracking, it is necessary to cut several cuts. They can be done using a unique tool or a conventional grinder. The main thing is to do them only after the solution has completely dried.
Step 7: Surface Flushing
One day after the end of the work, it is necessary to rinse the concrete area. The first time this is done with pressure from a garden hose. This removes excess release material. The second time you need to rinse the site with a mixture of hydrochloric acid and water.
This is necessary to achieve the maximum visual effect, a pleasant combination of colors. Also, after this procedure, the pores of the material open, which has a positive impact when processing with a sealant.
Step 8: Sealant Application
After rinsing, you need to give it some time to dry and then apply a sealant varnish. This coating has the following useful functions:
- Protection of the upper layer of the concrete site from abrasion;
- Protection against the harmful effects of chemically active components;
- Creating a shiny top layer to enhance the visual impact, and the intensity of the gloss is different;
- Increases the color content of the concrete site;
- Creation of a protective layer, thanks to which it is easier to get rid of dirt.
The sealant is rolled by simply rolling it over the surface. In some cases, the surface of the concrete pad is too embossed for simple rolling with a roller. In such cases, individual elements must be brushed. The sealant should be applied in three coats. After the cement has completely dried, the concrete floor is ready for use. Now you know how to make DIY printed concrete.