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"When the Game Is on the Line" - A stamped cement project in Granbury, Texas

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Stamped cement can cover damaged or stained concrete, can give drab concrete a beautiful and unique appearance, and can be cut or stamped to create a large range of patterns and designs. Each project is unique. We can create patterns with curving and straight lines, including square, rectangular, and diamond tiles, or random stone patterns, and even fancy borders and other patterns. We can even create floors inspired by a homeowner's hobbies and favorite activities. Such was the case at this Granbury, Texas residence. The homeowner was passionate about games. This passion included pool, air hockey, and yes, checkers. He liked checkers so much that he wanted to cover his patio deck with stamped cement that resembled a checkerboard.

The original concrete floor was bare, without any decoration or even a sealer to protect the surface from stains, dirt, and scratches. The homeowner had dogs that liked to leave evidence of their presence on the patio; as a result, the deck had lots of smelly, permanent stains. Before pouring any new concrete, we thoroughly cleaned the existing layer. A pressure washer removed all the stains and any dirt stuck to the surface. Next, we poured a skim coat layer over the existing floor. After it had dried we applied a second skim coat overlay and while this was still wet, we poured a stamped overlay mixture on top of that. The wet skim coat layer helped the stamped overlay material stick to the concrete; this measure helps to prevent delamination, when concrete layers can peel apart.

While the overlay was still soft, we used rubber mats to stamp a stone-like texture into the concrete surface. This created an unbroken stone-like appearance cross the entire patio. After the stamped cement had hardened, it was time to score the edges of tiles. To create a checkerboard pattern, we decided to cut squares tile that were each about three feet across. We can cut tiles at any size, but large tiles can have a more elegant appearance. Small tiles tend to look busier and can be distracting.

The patio deck wasn't square like a checkerboard, so we modified the design to fit the patio's dimensions. We used chalk lines to draw guidelines across the stamped cement surface. Next, we used an angle grinder to score each line. We cut borders on the edge of the concrete. Borders are only necessary when the stamped cement brushes against a wall, column or other vertical surface; if we score too close to the wall, we'd end up cutting the wall itself, stopping at the border eliminates this risk. For this project, we cut borders around the walls and around each brick column.

The cutting process produces concrete dust. After washing away the dust and any remaining chalk from the guidelines, the next step of the process was applying the stain. We used a black water stain to create a subtle variegated and multi-hued look on every other adjacent tile. The result resembled a checkerboard made of marble. The rest of the tiles were colored a lighter gray.

Of particular interest to our homeowner was that the stamped cement overlay be sealed, something we always do. He was counting on the sealer to protect his new patio from damage from stains, especially those from his beloved pets. Pricing for a two stain stamped cement project is generally a little more than a single color stain; applying a stain to individual tiles takes more time than spraying a single stain over an entire surface. In the next section we will talk about various factors that can affect the price of a stamped overlay project.

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