A stamped concrete patio may resemble stone or brick, or it may feature a more ornate decorative design. Whichever design style you choose, making sure it lasts a lifetime depends on proper care and maintenance.
It's All in the Seal
All outdoor concrete benefits from sealing, and stamped concrete is no exception. The seal prevents against stains, especially from dirt that can collect in the small ridges and lines of a stamped design. An outdoor sealer protects not only against stains, but also:
Cracks that form when water seeps into the concrete and freezes.
Slipping, if you opt for a textured slip-resistant sealer.
Efflorescence stains from mineral seepage from the actual concrete.
Concrete sealers require reapplication every two or three years. Frequency depends on the amount of foot traffic on the stamped concrete and the amount of snow or ice buildup your area annually experiences. You can even use a tinted sealer to add a touch of color to the patio or walkway. Sealer is applied in an even coat over dry concrete, usually in the spring or summer.
A mat by the door can keep dirt out of your home, but the wrong mat can damage your concrete. Rubber becomes soft during warm weather. It can stick to the stamped concrete, leaving behind a sticky residue or a stain. Skip rubber-backed mats and rugs on the patio or at the entrance, and instead use those with a canvas or other non-rubber backing.
Skip the Scratches
Heavy outdoor furniture legs can get stuck in a stamped design, resulting in chips and scratches. Using furniture glides – small Teflon or plastic disks that fit beneath the legs – allows everything to move smoothly without causing damage.
You will also want to put trays beneath any plants sitting on the stamped concrete. Not only will this guard against scratches from moving heavy pots, it will also prevent water and fertilizer salt stains from forming on the concrete.
Your first instinct after an ice or snowstorm may be to bust out the deicer. Both chemical and salt-based deicers can wreak havoc on your concrete patio and walkway. Chemical options can damage the sealer or leave behind troublesome residue, which is difficult to remove from inside the small corners of a stamped design. Salt eats into concrete, causing pitting and permanent damage. Instead, keep the paths shoveled clear or use sand to add traction. You can simply sweep sand off the concrete once the ice melts.
Stamped concrete requires very little maintenance beyond periodic resealing. Sweep it off regularly to keep it free of dust and debris. If sweeping isn't enough, hosing it off with water or giving it a gentle scrub with a deck brush will make it look new again.