There are many benefits to be gained by using pattern imprinted concrete (PIC). This technique is becoming more and more popular with people who want a decorative and professional finish to their external hard standings such as drive ways or garden patios, but who do not want the problems that are usually associated with these such as weeds, movement, stains and cracks or chips. Both in the commercial and private sector demand is increasing and it’s easy to see why; rather than individual elements, a monolithic concrete slab is laid.
This then has various dyes and a hardener applied to the surface before the desired pattern is ‘stamped’ into the concrete using special templates. The finished article is an area that has the appearance of tiles or paving (the options are countless) but is cast from one solid slab.
One of the key benefits is the diversity of the patterns and options that are available. The finishes on offer can range from a simple gravel or slate effect, to intricate circular designs which use different colours and effects. Of course it goes without saying that the more complicated the design, the higher the cost will be for the installation, but some level of customisation will be available even with the most basic of designs. When choosing a contractor to carry out the work, remember that this is a specialist operation, and cannot be undertaken by contractors with little or no experience.
If the pattern is complicated it is vital to request to see samples of previously completed work and to ask for customer testimonials or references to ensure that the contractor has suitable experience. Concrete slabs are difficult and costly to dispose of and there is only one opportunity to get the pattern right!
Another key benefit is that pattern imprinted concrete is more or less impermeable. The two most frustrating factors of a traditional paved drive are the weeds that grow through the joints and the water that washes away the bedding material and creates wonky or rocking slabs. With a solid surface these two problems simply vanish making maintenance of the pattern imprinted concrete incredibly simple. Care must be taken to provide adequate drainage for the water run off as there will be no absorption. A simple gully or channel drain will do the trick if drainage is required.
Finally, one of the most attractive benefits of pattern imprinted concrete is its lifespan. An initial outlay should see the concrete last for 20 years as long as it is properly maintained. It is worth noting that installation is definitely a long term investment and any design or pattern should be able to stand the test of time. A transparent sealing coat will be applied after the completion of the slab and this will have to be re-applied periodically depending on use. For a driveway this will be more frequently than a garden patio for example.