How long stamped concrete lasts depends on if it is installed correctly and adequately maintained. The real difference between stamped concrete and traditionally finished concrete (broom finish/smooth trowel finish) is the fact that stamped concrete requires routine maintenance. It is imperative to the life of your stamped concrete patio, walkway, hot tub pad or driveway.
You can expect your stamped concrete to last around 20 - 25 years. This does not mean that concrete should be replaced every 20 - 25 years. Like anything, every install is subject to different conditions and weathering. Driveways will have a lower lifespan because they are functional and typically hold significant weight. Some concrete driveways will last 10 years, some will last 100 or more years. There are many variables when it comes to the life span of any concrete installation.
Routine Maintenance Prolongs The Life Of Stamped Concrete
Most homeowners and property owners are guilty of "concrete neglect" (yes we made that term up). That does not mean that routine maintenance is some made up thing by concrete companies across the country. Stamped concrete and the very nature of it requires maintenance because of the way that the concrete is installed.
So what needs to be done to maintain stamped concrete?
In short, stamped concrete needs to be routinely sealed. It is imperative to seal out the weathering elements in stamped concrete. It is important to seal the surface of stamped concrete is due to the irregular finish on the surface of the stone. As the crew finishes stamped concrete they apply a heavy stamp and tamp the stamp into the surface of the freshly poured concrete. This process destroys the traditional finish and creates many voids and gaps in the surface of the stamped concrete.
Stamped concrete has irregularities that are not allowed with traditional concrete. Through the process of stamping, we actually destroy the smooth trowel finish that we completed only moments before. In doing so we open the surface and make it more porous than traditional concrete. Sealing the surface of this stamped concrete is important so as to block out the elements.
According to sfgate.com, "This issue has been resolved and stamped concrete now lasts as long as traditional concrete -- 25 years or more when properly installed and maintained." According to the same article, stamped concrete will oftentimes last longer than traditional concrete. This is mainly because of the polyurethane sealant that is used to protect the stamped design and color.
Polyurethane Sealants - Bullet Proof For A Year At Least
Polyurethane is most commonly used in topical sealants for concrete and other masonry. The fantastic thing about using a polyurethane sealer is it does a fantastic job of sealing the surface and faces of stamped concrete. Unfortunately over time the sealant breaks down with regular UV (ultraviolet) exposure.
The negative of polyurethane sealants is the routine maintenance. Since these sealants naturally breakdown in exterior use, they must be stripped and reapplied. This is mission critical to the life of the concrete. If the broken down sealant is allowed to remain, then it naturally fails and allows the underlying concrete to be exposed to the elements. Years of exposure to harsh freeze/thaw conditions will definitely advance the breakdown or deterioration of the underlying concrete.
For those stamped concrete installations that poured for interior use, there is not near as much maintenance. Interior stamped concrete sealants will go for 4x - 8x longer than exterior stamped concrete. Again, this due to the natural UV breakdown of polyurethane with routine exposure to sunlight.'
Stamped Concrete Alternatives
Stamped concrete is not the only kind of decorative concrete that there is. There are many options when it comes to decorative concrete. From sand finishes, to traditionally finished colored concrete, each gives a different and upscale look.
There are many different ways to finish concrete that will give your patio, driveway or sidewalk a unique look. Stamped concrete is not the only way to do this. There are other finishes, colors and treatments that will give your home or property a distinguished look without the maintenance. To learn more or explore your options, contact our office today at (303) 622-3191. Your concrete consultant will help you find an option that fits your lifestyle and the aesthetic of your home.