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Are you tired of looking at your dull gray concrete drive or sidewalk and wanting to give it a refreshing new look? For the average do-it-yourselfer there are some fairly easy projects you can try. Perhaps you plan to have some new concrete installed but you don’t want plain gray concrete and can’t afford the decorative concrete work at double to triple that of regular concrete. There are inexpensive ways to decorate concrete after it has cured without having to pay skilled tradesmen. Here are four ways you can use to enhance your home’s existing concrete surfaces – acid stains, water based stains, epoxy paints, and scoring techniques.

Concrete staining1. Acid based concrete stains are becoming more and more popular for coloring concrete surfaces. Acid staining is a natural coloring process produced by a chemical reaction with the cement material. Due to inconsistencies in the surface of concrete, the result of acid staining is a mottled or variegated appearance like that of marble that is unique to each slab. This results in a natural, elegant looking surface that can’t peel or flake away which makes it a very durable finish. Acid stains are available in 8-10 different colors, mainly earth tones, brown, green, and reddish. The cost may depend on where you live but is normally $60-$70 per gallon which covers 300-400 square feet. A coat of clear concrete sealer when you’re finished really brings out the colors and beauty of acid stains.

Concrete staining2. Water based concrete stains are an alternative to acid stains. They are more user friendly because they’re much less toxic. These products take advantage of the porous nature of concrete. The stains work just like standard wood stains. Suspended pigments are transported by solvents or water into the top one-sixteenth inch of the masonry. These highly colorful pigments attach themselves to the concrete particles and allow you to effectively colorize otherwise dull concrete. These stains don’t chemically react with the concrete; they are absorbed into the surface pores and act like a dye. The big advantage of water based stains is the wide array of colors available. You can find just about any color in the spectrum and create a more vibrant and consistent appearance. They normally cost about the same per gallon as the acid stains and cover about the same area, 300-400 square feet.

3. In the past, paint was the weapon of choice for people who simply had to change the color of concrete surfaces. Because paints are for the most part solid films, they are highly susceptible to flaking and peeling. This problem is often caused by water vapor that passes through the concrete slabs and walls and pushes the paint from the surface. This problem has been solved with Epoxy paint which makes an excellent coating for garage floors, basement floors and now even driveways. Many commercial floors have epoxy coatings because of their durability and resistance to chemical spills as well as their appearance. However in recent years, it has become increasingly popular for residential use because of the availability of different colors. This project is not difficult. The KEY is surface preparation if you are looking for a successful application. Epoxy paints have also become available in a water based form making it safe for the do-it-yourselfer and ideal for indoor applications. The cost of epoxy paint though is a little more than stains. You’ll spend about $200 for the materials needed to do approx. 400 square feet.

Concrete staining4. If you want to consider using some scoring techniques to create patterns on the cement surface and you want to venture beyond the basic staining of concrete. You can make your concrete look like a tile floor or like flagstone drive for example. It’s up to your imagination. To score the concrete I would recommend a Quick cut saw with a diamond blade but you could use a circular saw with a diamond or carbrundium blade. Though it is hard on the saw and your circular saw may not make it through the job. The important thing to remember when scoring is to draw the pattern on the concrete first and make sure you’re satisfied with the way it looks because scoring is irreversible. These saws can be rented at almost any tool rental shop for a very reasonable price.

Decorated concrete for either the exterior or interior of a house has become a very desirable amenity. It definitely improves your home’s value & appearance and gives it the look you’ve been wanting.

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8 Responses to “Easy Ways to Decorate Your Concrete”

This is a wonderful idea and I like the look of the results. Thanks for sharing this.

Great information. It’s really useful. Thanks

Good and in depth article but full of useful information

I thought this was a very interesting post thanks for writing it!

This look really good I have never thought of doing this yet it looks so good I will have to check into it more.

This really can make a difference to plane old concrete.

I have never seen this done before but it sure can make a difference.

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