Do you hate plain, gray concrete but are concerned that adding color will result in a chipped and faded patio a few years down the road? If so, then worry no more! Decorative concrete options are quite extensive, and most are durable and require little to no maintenance. The following guide can help you pick out some good decorative options for your patio.
Skip the paint
Once upon a time, if you wanted something other than plain concrete on your patio, your only option was to use an outdoor paint. This would look nice for a year or two, but weathering would eventually cause it to fade, chip, or peel off. This is in part because concrete is porous. This means moisture from the ground below the concrete patio pad will slowly leach through, which will then cause paint to fail. You can touch it up, but eventually you will have to have all the old paint stripped off and new paint applied. This is a time-consuming process that is also expensive if you can't do the work your self.
There are two options for coloring your concrete that won't result in major fading or color loss. The first applies to new patios, while the second can be utilized to color an existing or a new patio.
Option #1: Dying
Special dyes are mixed in with the concrete before it is installed. The simplest and least expensive option is to have the entire patio dyed a single color. If you want more design options, you can combine the tinted concrete with concrete stamping. Stamps are available in many designs, from those that make the dyed concrete resemble stones or bricks, to those that simply imprint a large design, such as a sunburst.
Another option is to use multiple colors. This is a bit more time consuming, since multiple concrete forms must be used so each color can be poured and left to set on its own. A simple way to utilize this method is to choose one color for the majority of the patio pad. Then, have a border installed in a complementary color.
Option #2: Acid Staining
Acid staining is applied to set concrete, so it can be used on an existing patio. The acid dyes penetrate the top few centimeters of the concrete, permanently dying the particles. You can mix and match colors or have an entire design dyed onto the concrete surface.
Unlike dying, acid staining doesn't penetrate deeply so it is possible to chip the concrete. You can apply a sealer to prevent this issue. The sealer will need to be reapplied every few years to ensure it is still effective.
Contact a decorative concrete contractor for more information.