You decided it’s time to install a concrete patio – congratulations! Now you have to make some big decisions. If you’ve chosen concrete as your material, you must decide if you want a stamped concrete or flat concrete patio. Both options provide a sturdy, appealing surface, but completely different looks.

What is Stamped Concrete?

Everyone knows what flat concrete or a concrete slab looks like. But, what is stamped concrete and how does it differ?

Stamped concrete patios mimic the look of higher-end patios, such as brick, stone, or even tile. The options are endless when it comes to design and even color. You get the stability and durability of concrete with the look of more expensive and harder to maintain patio options.

The Cost Factor of Stamped Concrete and Flat Concrete

Stamped concrete does cost more than flat concrete because of its color and finish. A slab of concrete is literally a slab of concrete. But, stamped concrete requires coloring and possibly extensive finishes. It depends on the look/design you choose.

Contractors can lay a concrete slab quickly, completing the project with a single crew. Stamped concrete requires contractors with different specialties, again depending on your design. You may need finishers that come in on different days to complete the design, which increases the cost of labor and materials.

Required Maintenance

Stamped concrete has color hardeners and sealers that make the concrete resistant to abrasion and water damage. However, it still requires maintenance including:

  • Sweep and wash the dirt buildup off the patio often. The more traffic your patio receives, the more often you should take this step.
  • Reseal stamped concrete every few years. Again, depending on the amount of traffic your patio has, you may need to reseal it every two to three years.
  • Remove all stains immediately. The patio’s sealer should keep stains from penetrating the concrete, but don’t take a chance.

Even concrete slab patios require regular maintenance. Similar to stamped concrete, you should sweep/wash the patio often. You should also:

  • Repair and seal cracks
  • Seal the joints and the concrete surface

Regular maintenance helps keep the concrete in good condition, avoids water penetration, and excessive damage that could decrease the patio’s lifespan.

Installation Time

Concrete patios take less time to install than stamped concrete because of the complexity of the design on stamped concrete. Professionals can install a concrete patio in as little as a few days. Sometimes it only takes one day – it depends on how much preparation the area requires.

Installation for stamped concrete, however, depends on the chosen design. If you have customized stencils, texturing for a faux stone look, or stained borders, the contractors may do the work in pieces, increasing the time it takes to complete a stamped concrete patio.

Aesthetic Appeal

Every homeowner has different tastes. Some prefer the clean look of flat concrete. They love the smooth appearance and don’t want to add color or design to their patio. Other homeowners prefer the higher-end appearance stamped concrete provides.

Stamped concrete is available in hundreds of colors and styles. You can provide a picture of a higher-end material you want to mimic and get the same look with concrete. Homeowners often choose to mimic pavers, tile, or even wood planks, all of which are possible with stamped concrete.

Should you choose stamped concrete or a flat concrete patio? It comes down to your personal preferences, what you can afford, and the timeline for installation. Both options provide a beautiful end result – a patio for you to relax, entertain, and enjoy your backyard during the amazing spring, summer, and fall weather.