Imprinted Concrete Driveway

There are many different benefits of imprinted concrete and these benefits are not well known to the public. We are going to talk about some of the best advantages that imprinted concrete offers.

What is Pattern Imprinted Concrete?

As the name suggests imprinted concrete is basically stamped concrete. The process of making imprinted concrete is different and this process involves pouring concrete on a sub-base, then the color is applied followed by a hardener. The traditional method of making concrete blocks involves pouring concrete into molds and then allowing it to harden will compete for the process.

The imprints can be made only when the concrete is wet and if the concrete hardens, the prints can be seen clearly. So when the concrete is still wet there are patterns like brickwork, textured stone, and ashlar stone are used. Patterned concrete is a popular choice for domestic properties, specifically lining driveways as they add curb appeal to your property.

Good quality print

Taking care of the concrete and the quality of concrete also matters adversely. If you are dealing with fresh concrete then various external conditions should be taken care of like the temperature of the concrete, temperature of the air, etc. Making imprinted concrete demands extreme care, dedication, and patience to lay properly. If proper procedure is not followed, then the concrete might develop cracks and you end up with an incomplete and structurally poor concrete floor.

The most common procedure of making imprinted concrete is by using mats and in most cases, a contractor would use 6 – 8 rigid printing mats for making an imprinted concrete driveway and he sets up one flexible mat in a set. The most common dimensions for a concrete mat are 600mm by 600mm but if you are comfortable with working on larger mats, there is an option to customize the size of the mat to fit your needs. It must be noted that the price of the mats changes with the size and design. With the normal 600mm by 600 mm dimensions, you will need about six mats to cover the narrowest section of the driveway, the flexible mats shall be used according to the dimensions of the driveway and these are used in places where the normal mats will not fit.

Colour Consistency

If you are planning to get imprinted concrete flooring then you should definitely consider the design and the colors. If the design and color does not complement the overall structure, then it is a waste of money to invest so much in imprinted concrete. Colour consistency is essential while installing imprinted concrete and this helps to ensure that your flooring achieves the color you are looking for. The main components of patterned concrete include color surface hardener and antique release agents.

Most of the ill-experienced constructors who do large commercial flooring don't pay much attention to the color and use a little amount of surface hardener. There shouldn't be too much surface hardener or too little of it and the procedure of applying it also makes a difference. If the color surface hardener is not applied properly or there isn’t enough of it, it will result in a poor final appearance.

The thing about dealing with concrete is that with several concrete deliveries there is slight discoloration and if you are dealing with light color then the color change is noticeable. That is why builders use surface hardener. What the surface hardener does is match the colors together when applied. With the surface, hardener applied you don't have to even worry about the bright sunlight causing discoloration This is ideal for larger jobs that take more than a few days to complete.

To make things easier, there is also a proper measurement of the quantity of surface hardener required for an area of concrete. On average there is an amount of 2.5kg of color surface hardener required while dealing with a square meter of patterned concrete. The pressure asserted on the concrete differs from structure to structure. If you are building a base for a statue or a display then there is no need to apply more surface hardener. While building structures like driveways, parking spaces, and steps, it is advised to apply more hardener to bear the extra traffic.

Note: There are two types of concrete available in the market and that is colored and non-colored. It must be noted that while buying concrete that has already been colored it is not advised to use additional surface hardener because it will affect the composition of the concrete and the color and applying strengthener can affect the color. While buying non-colored concrete you should ensure that the concrete is mixed properly, if not the concrete will develop cracks and there will be an uneven surface which will lead to a low-quality finish.

It should also be noted that the release agents should be washed off because the presence of release agents can cause a darker and deeper look. Washing off the release agents is a simple task and doesn't take much time but this should be done properly because if there are release agents stuck in some areas then there will be darker patches that don't look good. With the presence of release agents, there will be problems regarding the bonding of the concrete. Again, this will result in a patchy appearance, but it can be fixed by removing the sealant and repeating the cleaning/sealing process.

Ensuring Long-Term Durability

To ensure the durability of the concrete the material used for the sub-stone base merged with the subgrade (the ground below the base, it could be soil, stone, etc). This is important to ensure the structural integrity and if this process is done right, the concrete remains strong for years to come. Ensuring long-term durability is important because concrete one hardened cannot be modified and there is nothing that can be done to make it stronger once it hardens.

This process is important in high traffic areas, such as driveways, multi-story car parks, and warehouses operating machinery daily. Having problems with the structure can pose a risk to the public and this should be treated immediately and making new structures takes a lot of time and causes problems to the public.

How to Reduce the Chance of the Concrete Cracking

There are different brands of concrete and there are also varieties of concrete. Some types of concrete are used to build simple structures and some types of concrete have added chemicals that make it suitable for holding higher pressure. Printed concrete can also be used for driveways but if you are using printed concrete you should be sure to have at least 300kgs of cement per cubic meter when applying. In colder weather, you will need more, 350-380kgs as an estimate.

There are strengthening agents that improve the structural integrity and there are also catalysts that speed up the chemical reaction and strengthen the concrete much faster. The use of strengthening agents is generally accepted but using too much catalyst can make the concrete lose some of its strength.

Note: Concrete is very hard, and the strength of concrete is off the charts but it is very much brittle. It can hold a lot of pressure but if it bents even a little, it can develop cracks and lose all the strength. Therefore, you should take extreme care while preparing the correct mix. When the concrete is professionally mixed, it drastically reduces the likelihood of it cracking. This is particularly important for driveways and carparks; they should be at least 100mm thick to handle the weight of vehicles. For domestic paved areas, the concrete thickness should fall between 150 -175mm.

Following the generally accepted thickness levels helps to make the concrete stronger and if the thickness reduces, the risk of the concrete cracking increases.

Using a slip membrane where required

There has always been a lot of controversy regarding when and whether to use slip membranes. The basic function of these slip membranes is to allow the concrete to move independently, which reduces the build-up of stress and essentially lessens the likelihood of the concrete cracking. Some builders prefer not to use the slip membranes because it may compromise the structural integrity sometimes and they prefer the concrete to blend with the stone naturally. Ultimately the decision to use a slip disc depends on the size and the purpose of the structure and it is totally up to the builder whether he wants to use a slip disc or not.

Position contraction joints correctly

There are certain areas where the contractor predicts the concrete to crack and these cracks are inevitable. Contraction and movement joints are placed in areas where the concrete is assumed to crack. These joints make sure the concrete still holds the structural integrity even if there are slight cracks.

These joints are usually cut in high-stress areas, such as external corners of buildings. Maximum slab size within the paved area should also be restricted to 20m2, with a maximum length to weight ratio of 2:1.

Timing when you cut the contraction joints

It is also important to cut these joints to ensure the cracks don’t appear before it’s too late. Cutting the joints is relatively straightforward, they must be made on the same day as the pour and need to be cut about a quarter of the depth of the concrete.

Filling the contraction joints

The biggest advantage of using imprinted concrete is that the maintenance costs are low and there is almost no maintenance involved. Normal concrete has to be well maintained and it is also important to check the normal concrete to see if it has developed any cracks. The imprinted concrete too might require re-sealing every couple of years, this is not a labor-intensive job and in the long run, will save you money as it is far less likely to become damaged or tarnished.

Block or Imprinted Concrete?

Concrete blocks paving nothing to us and it has been around since early 1970. The only change that we see now is the option of customizability. The options were very very less in the olden days and they came only in a few colors. Since then, there have been many advancements and the availability of choice has increased the demand for block paving. You have various options in modern, traditional, or contemporary design.

What’s Better, Concrete Block Paving or Patterned/Imprinted Concrete?

There are advantages of both Patterned/Imprinted Concrete and the decision lies in the hands of the contractor to choose either of the options. Patterned concrete might support certain kinds of plans and imprinted concrete might complement the required structure, in the end, it depends on the situation and the structure.

Block paving advantages:

It’s attractive –  Block paving has been around for a long time and this style was used mostly in the earlier stages, the design of the blocks gives out a more aesthetic look. With a variety of colors available, you can customize your property whichever way you want.

Durable and long-lasting – Block paving is mostly used in high traffic areas because it is strong and attractive too. There is no need to worry about the maintenance and the costs of maintaining are also very low. It’s unlikely that you will ever need to maintain, let alone replace your blocked pavement.

Versatile and adaptable – Sometimes it becomes inevitable to remove the block payment and even in such situations block pavement offers an advantage because it can be removed easily without using any complex tools and machines. The blocked concrete is easily accessible and you simply remove and reinstate the blocks once you have fixed whatever was needed beneath it.

Permeable – Some blocked pavements are designed to let the water rise and drain away safely without causing cracks or structural damage.

The disadvantages:

Sinking/movement - The block concrete might not demand much attention on maintenance but while laying down the cement there should be absolute care taken, If it is poorly installed, blocked concrete can move and shift out of position. This creates a wildly absurd look and also poses a risk to everyone, especially if vehicles are operating within the area.

Cost

The cost of getting a block payment is high and the process involves professional supervision too. Not only are you paying so much for the concrete but you also pay extra for an expert. This disadvantage varies depending on whether you’re attempting a DIY job or you’re going through a contractor.

Advantages of patterned/imprinted concrete

Efficiency

The period to complete a project is sometimes very less and in such situations using imprinted concrete is suggested because it takes less time to settle. Using imprinted concrete is also an advantage because imprinted concrete can be installed in greater masses.

Weed and moss

Concrete might pose a risk for plants and the grass but it is highly unlikely that imprinted concrete will encounter the threat of dirt or weeds erupting through to the surface. This is because the silicone used to fill the cracks can repel the growth of weeds and dirt more efficiently than blocked concrete.

Strength/Integrity

Imprinted concrete is strong and the use of imprinted concrete emulates the risk of the concrete cracking or sinking. The strength also proves to be an advantage while working with structures that exert high pressure.

The disadvantages

Cracking

It is not likely to see cracks on the surface of the concrete but if you see some cracks these cracks will spread to surrounding areas as well. Resurfacing the concrete can solve the problem but this involves a lot of cost and effort.

Drainage

Unlike blocked concrete, imprinted concrete is not permeable, meaning it won't allow surface water to drain without having a drainage solution installed.

How much does an imprinted driveway cost?

If we are talking about blocked concrete driveway the costs can be anywhere between £40 and £80 per square meter but for imprinted driveways, the price is cheaper than blocked concrete, with it being priced at roughly £20 to £50. The cost of labor also comes into play and you will pay more to an experienced contractor and you can cut down on costs by following a DIY procedure but you will have to spend some money on the tools. These tools can be used later on so it is more like an investment than an expense.

Undertaking a Larger Project?

If you are in search of a reputed company to take over your plans regarding any large project, then we are your best choice. We have over 40 years’ experience in the concrete industry and have paved hundreds of domestic and commercial properties across the UK, including Southampton Solent University.

We take the time and stress of our concrete flooring and work hard to ensure your exact demands are met. We will handle your project with care and dedication, ensuring you get the best return on investment. We operate across the UK and specialize in polished, industrial concrete flooring and composite metal decking. Whatever the job, our team has you covered.

 

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