DECORATIVE CONCRETE HARDSCAPES:
AN UPSCALE IMAGE AT AN AFFORDABLE PRICE.
In the past when someone mentioned concrete, people rarely got excited. Concrete was usually seen as dull in appearance, somewhat expensive, and an unwise choice for a paving material given the harsh abuse of our British winters. When it came to paving around the home, homeowners usually ended up settling for slabs or block paving, often wishing they could afford real cobble or York stone flags. Thanks to new advances, concrete is quickly redefining its role in the residential marketplace.
Today, concrete can be made more durable and cast in a wide variety of finishes and colours offering the homeowner endless design possibilities. With new tools and practices it can even acquire the look and feel of brick, slate, tile or cobblestone for a fraction of the cost of the real material. Builders and homeowners alike are now realising that concrete can add tremendous value, flexibility, and curb appeal to their projects while allowing them to stay in budget.
Builders and developers of large commercial projects have long taken advantage of the beauty and flexibility of decorative concrete. To these budget-conscious professionals, it is seen as a perfect alternative to traditional masonry due to the savings in material costs and installation time, and overall maintenance. Anyone who has been to Eurodisney or Fantasy Island has probably walked all over those old cobblestones streets, slate and brick paths for hours on end, never realising it was actually concrete. Unfortunately the UK has been slow to pick up on these advances. They’ve been hesitant to use concrete creatively given the abuse it can receive during a harsh winter. Decorative concrete can be stronger and more chemical resistant then ordinary concrete with a higher cement content, advanced reinforcement materials, surface hardeners and protective sealers.
In the past, decorative concrete was usually limited to a mason scoring a flagstone-like design, or embedding sticks into the surface to achieve a desired effect. Today, the leading edge of concrete is a process called pattern imprinting. This involves stamping or impressing three-dimensional patterns into coloured concrete with moulds made from actual stonework. When the stamping is complete, the product is then sealed; highlighting the colours and providing greater stain and weather resistance. The result is a surface that combines the beauty of masonry with the durability of concrete.
There are over 25 different colours to choose from, ranging from natural earth tones to bright pastels. Pattern choices include slate, brick, granite, cobblestone, tile, flagstone, and more. Although pattern imprinted concrete is a little more expensive than ordinary concrete work, savings of more than 50% over masonry costs are common. Stamping is also placed in a fraction of the time and there are no individual units that will shift or allow grass to grow in the joints.