Concrete is well known for being a durable building material. However, it can also be an aesthetically pleasing material. Decorative concrete, in the form of stamped and stained varieties, has helped to improve the curb appeal of many homes in the Metro Detroit area.

Next Level Custom Brick has finished many projects that utilize these materials. This post will explain what decorative concrete is and what you can use it for.

Regular Concrete

Everyone is familiar with traditional plain concrete. This is the material in its most basic form. Regular concrete is used primarily for its functional attributes. It’s strong and durable, which is exactly what you want for structures and pavements. The aesthetic aspect of regular concrete, however, is lacking. It’s a simple light grey, white color, so it’s often used in areas where visual appeal isn’t a significant priority.

Exposed Aggregate

An exposed aggregate concrete finish has a decorative, coarse finish that shows the pebbles and stone in the mix. Because of its durability and skid resistance, exposed aggregate is best used for flatwork projects, including sidewalks, driveways, patios, and pool decks.

Decorative Concrete

Decorative concrete takes the dull grey of regular concrete and spices it up. A range of treatments and techniques can be used to do this, typically stamping and staining. Stamping allows the concrete to mimic other textures and shapes, while staining allows the concrete to take on different colors and color patterns. 

Through these techniques, concrete can be given a unique look or be made to match less durable materials like wood or more expensive materials like stone and brick.


Stamped Concrete

This technique takes advantage of the fact that concrete is malleable before it sets. Molds are pressed into the wet concrete and left there as it dries to create textures in the final form. Some molds can replicate the textures and shapes of stone, tile, brick, wood, and other materials. A stamped concrete patio is much more attractive than one with plain concrete. The option is also frequently used in walkways, pool decks, and more. 


Stained Concrete

Staining concrete lets you rid it of its typically dull and gray appearance. These stains can be used to create complex patterns that further sell the illusion created by stamping, or they can create solid colors that accentuate other areas of the construction. Concrete stains come in the form of acid-based solutions and water-based ones. Acid stains react with the concrete to create a marbled effect. They offer a more limited color selection but greater durability. Water-based stains offer a wider selection of colors and allow for a more uniform appearance. Stained concrete floors are a common use for this technique.


How to Choose the Best Concrete for Your Needs

When you plan a new home improvement project, choosing the type of concrete you’ll use is one of the first steps. Here are some tips for choosing between regular, stamped, or stained concrete:

  • Aesthetic Preferences: If you care about the visual appeal of the area, choose stamped concrete for a natural material look or stained concrete for unique colors and patterns.
  • Application Area: Regular concrete maintains the highest level of structural integrity. Sticking with plain concrete makes sense if it will be used in areas subject to heavy loads, such as driveways.
  • Maintenance and Durability: Aside from enduring heavy loads, decorative concrete is plenty durable. However, it requires more maintenance to keep it up than regular concrete does.
  • Budget: The added visual appeal of stamped and stained concrete adds to the cost, making it less ideal when trying to keep costs low.


Upgrade Your Outdoor Spaces with Next Level Custom Brick’s Sidewalk Solutions

If you have an outdoor project planned that will use concrete, let Next Level Custom Brick help make your vision a reality. Contact us today to get an estimate on your project. We have extensive experience working with concrete and can help you find the ideal selection for your aesthetic and functional goals.