We tend to fixate on using stamped concrete for a limited scope of applications – driveways, patios, sidewalks, pools. But there is more it can do. One of the more unlikely options is as a replacement for hardwood and engineered wood floors. Read more to find out how stamped concrete can effectively compete with hardwood.
Concrete vs Wood
It’s not really a case of “which looks better.” The goal is to never be able to tell the difference just by looking. That said, if you don’t put the necessary effort into it, stamped concrete won’t look as good. This all starts with selecting a realistic texturing tool and using it well. Supplementary hand texturing can further improve realism. From there, colors become vital to an attractive and realistic look. If you can do this well, the customer will never see the difference.
Price always depends on where you are, the level of service you provide, and the exact materials used. But, generally speaking, stamped concrete will be on par, or slightly more expensive, than natural and engineered hardwood. This may make it challenging to convince the price-sensitive client to go with stamped concrete, so it is important to stress the performance and aesthetic benefits of going with stamped concrete.
Durability and maintenance is where stamped concrete shines as a hardwood alternative. When properly maintained, hardwood can last for a century or more. But where hardwood does fall short is moisture. In the presence of moisture, wood can mildew, mold, and warp. It is also susceptible to gouging and scratches, making it less than ideal for floors with pets or heavy foot traffic. Stamped concrete, however, resists moisture and will not mildew. It stands up to abrasion quite well. Both will require periodic treatment with protectants.
Installation concerns all depend on when and where you plan on installing the floor. Subfloors must always be considered, whether it’s stamped concrete or hardwood. Work closely with your customer to see what preparation is necessary and how it will impact the customer.
Stampable Overlay is a natural choice for interior flooring. Oftentimes, the construction process – especially with fast track construction – does not allow the time or opportunity to stamp cast in place floors. Using a Stampable Overlay allows you to come back in, after the concrete has cured and other tradesmen have done their part, and texture the floor just as if it was freshly placed concrete. Refer to our video for instructions and tips for placement.
There are two things you must absolutely nail to successfully replicate hardwood with stamped concrete: color and texture. If you can do that, your customers will be glad they chose textured concrete over the real thing.
Choosing the right texture and using it correctly is key. You need to find something that’s realistic, but easy to use. Before any job, familiarize yourself with the placement of your textures so you can place the stamps with minimal dragging or resetting. Always make sure to have the corresponding flexible stamps and texture skins. This is especially important when you’re stamping indoors because you will be working up to walls and other obstacles.
Realistic coloration is what really makes a faux-hardwood stamp job get to the next level. Carefully plan your coloring to mimic the natural variations that are present in new and aged hardwood. For most hardwood recreations, you will start with an integral color or color hardener that is a lighter brown or tan color. In some cases, you may also use a light gray. From there, you’ll use a darker release or clear liquid release, just like any other stamp project.
Use stains to add more dimension and realism to the stamped concrete. Carefully blend and marble water based stain. Use browns, tans, reds, and other colors to mimic the natural tones and coloration of wood. Of course, more heavily aged “wood” will have heavier, darker coloration. Play around with techniques and color combinations before you offer this as an option for your customers.
Once you get your technique down, you can effectively offer your customers concrete hardwood floors. This means you can give their homes the look and feel of beautiful natural hardwood with the performance and durability of concrete.