Fixing Your Concrete Driveway

Choosing Between Stamping And Engraving To Decorate Your Concrete Patio

by Gavin Jackson

Laying out a smooth sheet of concrete gives you a blank canvas for realizing your patio dreams. Before you roll on the sealant and arrange the outdoor furniture for your next barbecue, consider getting a little more decorative with a surface treatment. Both stamping and engraving options give you a custom patio that looks unique, but they come with very different costs and requirements.

Differences in Texture

Are any of your family members or regular guests prone to slipping on smooth concrete? Both techniques can give a better grip on the surface of your patio for safety. Stamped textures range in depth depending on the design you choose, while engraving tends to stay shallow and leave fine lines behind. Stone slab, brick, and wood grain stamping can make concrete look like other materials, but etching is primarily restricted to creating decorative motifs.

Options for Application

Stamping must be done while the concrete is still wet. Once it hardens, it's too late for pushing a rubber or plastic mold into the surface. This means you need to set up any decorative stamping before the slab is poured or you'll miss out on the crucial window of time.

On the opposite end, etching can't begin until the concrete is completely hardened and at least mostly cured. Cutting and grinding the surface before it cures leaves ragged and messy edges behind that crumble soon after. You'll need to let the patio rest for a week or two before the etching is completed.

Costs to Consider

Concrete stamps are inexpensive and easy for contractors to find in almost any pattern. Even if you order a custom stamp so your patio is truly unique, it's a relatively small cost compared to other decorative concrete techniques. It also adds only a few extra hours of labor to the cost of installation.

Engraving comes with a higher price tag due to the equipment needed for the work. Since cured concrete is a very tough material, the workers need grinding wheels or air compressor-powered blasters to chip away your designs. This is a noisier and messier process as well, but it produces a stylish carved stone look that no other method can match.

Talk to a concrete contractor like Seller's Concrete about their experience with both decorating techniques before hiring a team. They can also recommend one method over another based on the finished look you want. You may even end up combining the two for an engraved and stamped patio that is a true conversation starter.