How to properly make imprinted concrete

The imprinted concrete, also called stamped concrete, is a decorative technique thanks to which any surface can be customized in an unlimited way. With it, you can quickly and easily mimic the appearance of noble materials such as cobblestones, brick, stone, tiles, slate or wood, among many others.

A very versatile material that we frequently find in public areas such as sidewalks, roads, squares, parks or shopping centers. But it is also very common to find it in porches, terraces and entrances to residential areas. Generally outdoors, but lately the use of imprinted concrete indoors is gaining strength. Especially in imprinted pavements of large warehouses and spaces such as parking lots, sports centers, hotels, shopping centers and restaurants.

But, how is imprinted concrete made? The first thing you need to know is that the application method varies depending on the surface where you want to apply this coating. In this sense, the treatment on floors and walls is not the same, although the final results are equally spectacular.

Next, we explain how to make imprinted concrete on floors and pavements and, also, how to apply vertical imprinted concrete on walls, facades and walls.

How to make imprinted concrete on floors: step by step application

The use of imprinted concrete on floors, both indoors and outdoors, is the most common use of this coating. Some of the most striking imprinted pavements can be found in parks, terraces, squares, outdoor parking lots, exteriors of shopping centers or entrances to residential areas.

In this section we explain how imprinted concrete is made on floors and pavements, step by step, to guarantee success in the work. Making a mistake in any of the steps can be fatal.

Step 1 of the application of imprinted concrete.

1. Prepare the pavement before pouring concrete

It is essential that the ground on which the fresh concrete is going to be poured is in perfect condition, as it directly affects both the behavior and durability of the future imprinted pavement. To do this, the surface must be cleared of any element that could be an obstacle such as leaves or stones. Only in this way will a clean and quality surface be guaranteed.

To ensure the planimetry of the imprinted concrete pavement, it is necessary to prepare the levels and slopes of the ground. A film of 400 gauge policret sheet will be applied to the base to prevent the dehydration of the concrete and a perimeter joint will be placed to delimit the areas to be filled with the concrete by placing a formwork box.

Before applying the concrete on the pavement, it is essential to pour the gravel (15 cm) and the sand (2 cm) and compact the support.

Step 2 of the application of imprinted concrete.

2. Pour the concrete on the ground

Once the support is prepared, it is time to pour the concrete evenly to prevent future problems. The layer of concrete must be perfectly leveled and compacted. Add polypropylene fibers to the concrete to improve its resistance. A steel mesh and joint should also be used on all perimeters and encounters with fixed elements.

If any of the following cases occur, the pouring of concrete on the floor or pavement must be interrupted:

If a possible drop in temperatures, below 0ºC, is anticipated during the first 48 hours.

If the temperature of the concrete is below 10ºC or if the ambient temperature exceeds 30ºC.

If there is excessive wind. A condition that can cause the surface to dry out.

Step 3 of the application of imprinted concrete.

3. Leveling and screeding of the concrete applied on the floor

Use a roller to compact and bleed the concrete. For smoothing or leveling the concrete floor, a trowel or leveler must be used. To make imprinted concrete correctly, it is essential that there is no mechanical vibration in the screeding.

Step 4 application of imprinted concrete on floors

4. Troweling of the concrete

With the concrete still fresh, perform the troweling to obtain a uniform, compact, resistant, smooth, and durable pavement. Skipping this step could cause the appearance of blisters and lamination due to excess moisture.

Step 5 application of imprinted concrete on floors

5A . Sprinkle the color hardener or imprinted mortar on the pavement

Once the exudation water has evaporated from the concrete, sprinkle the corresponding color hardener or imprinted mortar on the pavement. In our case, Stonecem® Floor with a proportion from 4 Kg/m² for dark colors up to 6 Kg/m² for light colors.

To make imprinted concrete on floors, it is very important to sprinkle the right amount of product. Otherwise, the result of the imprinted concrete floor will not be as desired.

Step 6 application of imprinted concrete on floors

5B. Coloring of bulk concrete

In addition to sprinkling, which is the traditional technique for pigmenting concrete pavement, another system is to use a pigment in powder form as Arcocem® Fast. This method consists of introducing two bags into the concrete mixer for each cubic meter of surface to cover. We leave it for five minutes so that the product mixes with the concrete until achieving a homogeneous and uniform mass. When it's ready, the concrete would be poured onto the support.

Step 7 application of imprinted concrete on floors

6. Trowel the color hardener or imprinted mortar applied on the floor

Apply 2/3 of the specified amount of color hardener or imprinted mortar Stonecem® Floor and introduce the material into the concrete using a standardized trowel. Then, apply the rest of the product and proceed to trowel again until the desired finish is achieved.

Step 8 application of imprinted concrete on floors

7. Smooth the future imprinted pavement

The surface must be completely smoothed and without irregularities. To do this, use a steel trowel until ensuring that the surface has no porosity and is totally homogeneous. Review the edges of the concrete pavement with an edging trowel, to avoid chipping.

Step 9
                                    application of imprinted concrete on floors

8. Apply the release agent for imprinted concrete on the pavement

Once the mortar has set, ensure that the future imprinted pavement has a firm but not hard appearance. And, above all, that the surface is free of water. Once checked, apply the chosen release agent for imprinted concrete.

Within the Desmocem® family, we have powder release agents (Desmocem® Powder) and liquid release agents for imprinted concrete (Desmocem® Liquid). We recommend using the first one, except in interior spaces.

It should be noted that the release agent for imprinted concrete in powder Desmocem® Powder it carries color that can be of the same shade as the color hardener, or different if you seek to achieve an aged effect. Both favor the extraction of the mold of imprinted concrete once stamped on the pavement. The proportions are: 100 gr/m² and 125 mL/m² respectively.

Step 10 application of imprinted concrete on floors

9. Prime the stamped concrete mold on the floor

To execute the imprinted concrete on the ground it is essential to choose a mold and stamp it on the surface. Without this element, we would be talking about a different decorative technique. In Imacem, we have more than 150 types to impregnate the floor in a certain way.

Once the imprinted concrete mold has been selected, stamp it on the surface to prime it. The placement of the mold on the ground must be consecutive and follow the continuity of the pieces. Use a tamper to more easily achieve the engraving of it.

Once done, we will proceed to carefully remove the mold from the pavement and place it on the rest of the untreated surface of the imprinted concrete floor. It is very important to respect the created design for the result to be optimal.

Step 11 application of imprinted concrete on floors

10. Remove the release agent for imprinted concrete from the pavement

If the expansion joints have not been initially planned, make the cuts according to the project and before 24 hours from its implementation. At least 48 hours later, proceed to remove the release agent for imprinted concrete from the pavement.

Step 12 application of imprinted concrete on floors

11. Clean the imprinted pavement

72 hours later, rinse the treated surface with water to remove any product residue and let it dry. To clean the imprinted pavement, a pressure washer can be used with an approximate pressure of 90 bars, applying the water gun at a prudent distance of 50 centimeters and nozzle in fan position.

Never, under any circumstances, apply a direct stream of water on the surface. In case the release agent for imprinted concrete used is Desmocem® Liquid, clean the imprinted pavement by sweeping.

We recommend using our cleaners Ecoclean Pro or Ecoclean Construction. This last one is very useful to prevent efflorescence after use of Desmocem® Powder. A detergent that removes lime, saltpeter, grouts, cement residues, etc. After its application, let the product act between 5 and 15 minutes. Once the time has passed, rinse the imprinted pavement with water and let it dry.

Step 13 application of imprinted concrete on floors

12. Apply the varnish to protect the imprinted pavement

The last step to make imprinted concrete on floors is without a doubt one of the most important. Since only good protection can ensure the durability and good condition of the pavement. At Topciment we have developed the family of varnishes Sealcem®, where there are water-based varnishes and solvent-based varnishes. The choice of one type or another depends on the shine and finish that is sought.

Once the imprinted pavement has dried, apply two coats of any of our varnishes from the family Sealcem® . Do it by airless, brush or roller and let it dry. Although our varnishes have excellent resistance to weather, and therefore, to different weather conditions such as water, wind and sun; we recommend renewing the varnish.

How to make imprinted concrete on walls: step by step application

Imprinted concrete is not only a high-value decorative resource for floors, but also for a myriad of vertical surfaces such as walls, facades, walls or skirting boards. In the same way as in pavements, in the application of vertical imprinted concrete you can resort to the same designs, textures and colors.

Although this use is less known, imprinted concrete is applicable on facades, walls, and skirting boards. In fact, more and more people are opting for vertical imprinted concrete to give that rustic touch that never goes out of style. Properties and businesses are completely revalued thanks to such elegant finishes.

Vertical imprinted concrete provides a very aesthetic decorative solution, economical compared to other construction materials and, above all, very resistant and durable. It is the absolute protagonist of numerous emblematic buildings of high heritage value.

One of the reasons why betting on vertical imprinted concrete is a total success, is due to its high resistance to impacts. A very important aspect to take into account because walls or facades often receive all kinds of impacts frequently, especially in the lower areas. An element that you don't have to worry about thanks to the hardness of the imprinted concrete on walls.

But, how is imprinted concrete made on walls? Are there many differences compared to execution on pavements? Below we explain what the application of imprinted concrete on walls consists of, step by step. A process somewhat different from that of the floors.

The first step to apply vertical imprinted concrete is to prepare the surface. It is necessary to ensure that the surface is clean and with all parts well adhered. If necessary, sand, strip or mill the wall. It is advisable to use fiberglass mesh in order to prevent cracks.

Next, clean the support with water until saturation. Once the water has been absorbed, apply a bonding bridge following the application instructions detailed in the technical sheet.

The second step to make imprinted concrete on walls consists of mixing the mortar with water using a stirrer or concrete mixer, until the mixture is completely homogeneous and without lumps. Plaster the wall on the base, never exceeding 15 minutes between kneading and application of the mortar.

When the mix is ready, spread a first layer (thickness 2 mm) on the wall with a steel trowel. We will fix a fiberglass mesh to prevent any type of crack. Apply a second layer with a steel trowel, allowing the mortar to air to prevent the appearance of bubbles on the wall. It is essential to respect the expansion joints as well as the meetings with singular points.

In the same way as it happened with the pavements, wait for the exudation water to evaporate. Then, sprinkle the color hardener.

Once the mortar has set, apply the liquid imprinted concrete release agent Desmocem® Liquid on the wall. It is also possible to use the release agent for imprinted concrete in powder version, Desmocem ® Powder, after choosing the desired color with a long-haired roller or a similar tool. The proportions of product, are the same as those of floors that have been detailed above.

Stamp the wall with the molds of vertical imprinted concrete from our line Imacem. The molds must be perfectly clean and, in the case of using Desmocem® Liquid,to impregnate them beforehand.

The application of the vertical imprinted concrete mold must be consecutive and follow the continuity of the pieces used. Manually fix the mold until it is completely stamped. Then, remove. When the mortar has hardened, it will be necessary to proceed to remove any remaining release agent residues.

After stamping the vertical imprinted concrete mold on the facade, wall or fence, it is necessary to clean the impurities from the support with pressurized water. We advise using our detergentsEcoclean Pro or Ecoclean Construction. Let it act for 5-15 minutes, then rinse the wall with water and let it dry.

The application of imprinted concrete on walls concludes with the use of a good protective varnish. We can choose both a water-based varnish (Sealcem® WT) like a solvent varnish (Sealcem® DSV). The choice will depend on the shine or type of finish you want to achieve. Apply two coats of product.

Where can imprinted concrete be applied?

Diversity is one of the main advantages of imprinted concrete, as it can be applied practically on any existing surface. These are some of its most common uses:

  • Sidewalks
  • Shopping centers
  • Garages
  • Patios
  • Residential entrances
  • Terraces
  • Porches
  • Parking lots
  • Houses
  • Garages
  • Parks
  • Housing developments
  • Pools
  • Stairs