First let me be clear…there are two types of Stamped Concrete.
There is stamped concrete overlays, also known as concrete overlay or decorative concrete, and there is “truck pour stamped concrete” or stamped quick crete.
Truck pour or quickcrete is the fast drying concrete mix you see being delivered in the big cement trucks. This type of concrete can be stamped…but you are limited on design because it dries so fast you only have a few minutes to create the look you want before it gets too hard to stamp. Truck pour concrete is not an overlay and is not designed to be poured over older concrete.
Stamped Concrete Overlay or Decorative Concrete is a slower drying, polymer and other additive enhanced concrete which make it smoother, stronger and dry slower to allow for more intricate stamping and carving and spraying. Stamped concrete overlay concrete can be stamped and carved to look like real rock and stone, or brick, tile, wood and more. As an FYI, Truck Pour Mixes do fall in our Mid-Range prices below. Stamped Concrete Overlay is designed to be poured over old concrete to cover imperfections and cracks in concrete driveways, patios, pool decks, pathways, floors and even decks, to provide repairs, and to beautify the concrete and give it an all new look.
This article is focused on concrete overlays.
Decorative concrete or concrete overlays, because they are overlaying existing concrete are actually very reasonably priced when compared to using actual stone, slate, tile, wood, brick, pavers, manufactured stone veneer and even pool or patio spray deck coatings, and has become popular because it is customizable and can be changed or adapted right on the job site to better match your vision.
I will help you understand the “average” price across the country for everything from a basic beautiful spray deck to a custom hand carved jaw dropping work of art. Again, these are averages, so you could see dramatic differences based on cost of living or labor rates in your particular area, or the cost of freight to get materials to your city, state or country.
I’ve broken the rates into easy to understand and pretty accurate pricing categories…which work, because this is the rule of thumb that a vast majority of contractors use when pricing their jobs. Always remember though…there could be extra costs for demolition, prep work such as scraping, chipping and grinding away old material, crack bridging and repair work that must be done before you can overlay, etc. The below rates are just for the overlay work itself in most cases…best to always get a couple bids and ask your contractor what is included.
Below are the 5 main categories of Concrete overlays (decorative concrete & stamped concrete overlays):
$3 to $4 per sqft. Spray Deck/Knockdown Finish and Broom Finish:
Usually a single color broom finish (applied by spraying or screeding the material, then a broom is used to add a slightly rougher finish). A spray texture or knock down finish (sprayed on using a hopper gun then lightly troweled to “knock down” the mix to produce a smooth or lightly textured finish). These jobs create beautiful decks, patios and driveways and even walls and are beautiful, use less material and can be applied and finished quickly. If any prior decking needs to be sanded or removed…add that to the cost.
Knock-Down Finish with Accent Lines
Integrally Colored Mix with Broom Finish
$4 to $8 per sqft. Basic:
This category uses more material to create a surface that can be stamped and colored. Typically this is 2 colors and basic design of 1 stamp throughout. It is a bit thicker to be able to stamp the mix so more material is used to accommodate stamping. What could add to this job is any removal of decking or flooring, if there is concrete repair to be done first, etc. This is a multi-step process so does take more time with coloring happening after the overlay starts to dry. Sometimes 1 color is in the mix then other colors are used to create the antiquing or mottled color effects.
$8 to $12 per sqft. Mid-Range “Overlay”: A bit more complex with multiple stamps, multiple color combinations and on vertical surfaces you have the addition of a scratch coat to help the thicker Wall mix adhere to the surface easier. This is when you start getting more realistic looks, and more intricate combinations of stamp usage plus you are dealing with more mix per sqft. To get the look you want. There is also a lot more attention to detail, with some light hand carving to open up or customize and make the stones look more natural. Or special techniques are used to give that extra definition that really makes the project pop.
$12 to $16 per sqft. High-End: These jobs typically use multiple stamps or basic hand carving that create contrasting or symbiotic mixed material looks like “custom stone or tile with a wood border”, aprons 9borders around control joints), monolithic pours and drop downs, or multi-dimensional projects like a patio, outdoor kitchen, fire pit and barbeque (a mix of vertical and horizontal stamps and carving all on the same project). This price range uses custom techniques, multiple stamps and colors, stencils, some hand carving and more. These projects are more complex, use more materials per sqft., and achieve incredible results.
$17+ per sqft. Custom: This is typically your very complex and/or completely custom looks with intricate designs or structures that require a lot of extra materials (foam blocks, wood, lath, etc.), as well as more overlay materials to get the thicknesses and realistic looks. You see a lot more hand carving and custom color usage in this category with a lot of the expense coming with the amount of material required. These projects can have very realistic looks, be artistic in nature, or simply a completely custom designed looks using a Top or Famous designer, which can add to the cost but be very exclusive.
You can see from the above categories that an overlay is very comparable and many times less expensive than actual stone, brick, slate, tile or wood, And, it’s so much more workable, forgiving, and just better and easier to work with when it comes to going around corners, mixing your medias, doing vertical and horizontal on the same projects. Where else can you open a couple bags of material…mix it with water…and create an “infinite” number of complete custom patio floor options…AND…the matching stack stone, river rock, brick, orchard stone, etc. look on your outdoor kitchen façade or fire pit!
It simply is incredible, worth the price…and you cannot go wrong when you go with a concrete overlay!
Thank you for reading this article and I hope it was informative and useful to you. If you need more information or comparison info or just have a question or need a contractor referral…click the more info button and let me know what you need. I’m always happy to help.
Written by Bruce Grogg
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Bruce Grogg has been in the concrete overlay and pool industry for many years. Besides his work in, and ongoing efforts to better the concrete overlay industry, Bruce is also involved with Government Relations at the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals, and leads the Water Conservation Coalition that brought the pool cover industry manufacturers together to lobby Washington for conservation designations. For the past few years Bruce has been a regular on Capitol Hill meeting with the EPA and the coalition’s lobbyist and Congressional supporters. Bruce is also part of the ICC (International Code Council) where he sits on the 2015/2017 ISPSC (International Swimming pool & Spa Code) Code Development Committee and was the key author of the first ICC International pool cover code published in 2012. Concrete overlays are a big part of the pool industry where they are used on pool decks, patios and walkways, which is what made it an easy transition for him to move full time into the concrete overlay industry. Bruce loves writing, learning, being active in the industry, speaking, and he loves to travel…especially if there is a beach involved.