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By: Thomas M. Ciesla

Decorative Concrete in Houston
In the Houston metropolitan area the popularity of decorative concrete is exploding for both indoor and outdoor applications. “Fifty percent of our work is stamped concrete and fifty percent involves stained and scored designs”, says Mary Julia of Concrete Decorative Solutions, Inc., a firm specializing in elegant designs with an artistic touch. Stamped concrete involves imprinting a pattern on freshly poured concrete using modern rubber forms, and usually includes one or more colors applied to the surface of the concrete. Typical applications would include driveways, walks, patios and pool areas. A popular interior application now used in many upscale homes in the Houston area is the 'wood floor' pattern that imitates a wood plank floor, right down to the nail holes.

Scoring and acid staining are techniques particularly suited for interior decorative concrete, offering designers and contractors the best opportunities to explore endless creative possibilities. Scoring involves cutting shallow lines into the concrete slab to create interesting patterns. Within these patterns, such as a six-inch wide border cut around a room, designers will overlay stencil patterns to create a magnificent multicolored tapestry-like design. When applied by experienced contractors these designs can imitate a fine rug -- which you never have to clean. This interior application is of particular interest to many who suffer from allergies or asthma. As Julia of Creative Decorative Solutions mentioned, “What I find most important about decorative concrete are the practical aspects over the financial benefits. Living in an area prone to flooding, mold and mildew, a concrete floor is the healthy, practical choice.”

Whether you are contemplating an interior or exterior application, the real key to a professional decorative concrete application is color. Oddly enough, color rather than pattern combinations controls the cost of an installation. John Viviano of Impressions in Concrete knows about color in stamped concrete designs. With 13-years of experience in decorative concrete, John admits that, “Ninety percent of our business is stamped concrete.” Viviano explained that the stamped concrete technique uses a base color sprinkled on the wet concrete, combined with a 'release' medium of a complimentary color. The release chemical allows the pattern molds to be pulled from the wet concrete surface without damage to the pattern. The combination of these two colors results in the rich, complex patterns visible in a well executed stamped concrete installation. Costs will climb if color combinations require the contractor to split the project into numerous concrete pours, which increase labor costs.

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