Q: What is concrete staining?
A: The concrete staining/stenciling/engraving process consists of several combined methods in which the concrete is colored and/or stenciled or carved (engraved) to achieve a beautiful transformation from dull gray to fantastic color(s) and design(s). A penetrating acrylic or chemical stain is used to color the surface. An optional precise pattern or design is then either permanently stenciled or engraved INTO the concrete surface with a patented machine utilizing various diamond blades for straight and radius patterns or various patented engraving tools for intricate designs. The process is complete with the application of a clear top coat to seal the surface area.
Q: How long will a job last?
A: Properly maintained stained/stenciled/engraved surfaces will last for many, many years. Engraved bricks, tiles or designs will never come loose. The design cuts into the concrete rather than through it. Weeds and grass will not grow between pieces of the design. The design will last as long as the concrete because it IS the concrete.
Q: Where possible can staining/engraving/stenciling be applied?
A: Anywhere where there is concrete. Of course if the surface is beyond recovery, a resurfacing or reconsideration is warranted.
Q: Should existing cracks be repaired beforehand?
A: Most cracks as well as chipping, if not too large, may be disguised with little or no repair. In most cases, when the stains are applied and any optional engraving is complete, most minor cracks are not too noticeable. Extensive concrete damage may require repair or replacement.
Q: In what way does concrete need to be prepared for staining/engraving/stenciling?
A: The concrete surface MUST first be cleaned with a high pressure power washer (exterior) or scrubbed and/or sanded and clear rinsed (interior). If previously sealed, the existing sealer has to be removed in order to accept stain. Depending on the stain specified, the surface may need to be neutralized and clear rinsed again.
Q: Can concrete that has existing glue, paint or stains have stain(s), engraving or stenciling applied?
A: Yes, but some residual discoloration may remain. Often after a thorough preparation and cleaning, the darker spots are disguisable in the design by various means. Costs may be greater due to the extra labor in removing such items.
Q: Can a concrete surface with a poor finish accept staining/stenciling or engraving?
A: Yes, except for stenciling. Stencils need to adhere to a sound, flat surface in order to prohibit the stain from migrating under the stencil. Depending upon how poor the finish is, it may require surface grinding or resurfacing for the desired profile or finish. This may expose aggregate depending upon the depth of the grinding. Sometimes an undesirable occurrence and may ad to the project cost.
Q: If a section of a previous design has to be duplicated due to concrete removal and replacement, is it possible to match the remaining colors and pattern?
A: Patterns can easily be matched. Stain colors may vary due to the fact that the newly placed concrete is different than the original. Water-based colors can be modified to closely match existing colors.
Q: Can select portions of a concrete slab be stained, stenciled or engraved?
A: Yes, in many instances a separation of design or fade in color is more pleasing.
Q: How do weather conditions affect staining and sealing?
A: The concrete surface temperature needs to be between 40 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit for stain and/or sealer application. It is highly recommended that the surface be dry during any engraving process and completely dry for sealer application.
Q: How long does it take to complete a project?
A: A concrete staining or engraving/stenciling transformation process may take several days to complete depending upon the size of the project, accessibility as well as weather conditions. The cleaning and preparation process is of utmost importance to the longevity of the finishes. All areas should remain clean and uncontaminated until dry and fully cured. In some cases a particular stain may be applied on damp concrete. Sealers cannot. The project area(s) should be blocked or roped off throughout each stage of the applications to ensure proper adhesion of each coating as well as contamination from foot traffic. Any staining/sealing areas must be avoided during the processes and should not be used until the sealer system is fully cured. Occupation availability times are contingent on specific weather conditions and manufacture guidelines.
Q: How thick is it?
A: No thickness is added at all unless a resurfacing is required. Engraving cuts into the concrete to give the appearance of a grout line or a mortar joint and gives the surface dimension without any need for build up.
Q: What does the coloring or staining as well as sealing do?
A: The stain permanently penetrates the concrete surface and the sealer protects and assures the surface lasts longer. Stain applications react with the concrete to give various natural tones and hues. Other stains can give a tint or opacity to concrete surfaces. Depending upon the appropriate choice of sealer used for the type of application, a sealer can repel certain types of spills. It is best to wipe up any spill ASAP. If a spill is to set for an extended length of time it could possibly affect the finish as some spills can be more corrosive than others.
Q: What happens if the concrete becomes scratched or chipped deeper than the stain?
A: Scratches/chips can be repaired, touched up or both. A list of stain(s), as well as dilution ratio and sealer type is on record for each job completed. A copy is available upon request.
Q: How many colors are available?
A: There is a nearly unlimited spectrum of colors. A multitude of different manufacturers all with varying color palettes are available. Typically, about any color is available or can be mixed to achieve a desired color.
Q: How many different colors are possible in the same design?
A: There is no limit. Many colors compliment others.
Q: Do applied colors/stains match those in catalogs, publications or displays?
A: No. All concrete surfaces stain differently due to many variables including but not limited to age, mix specification, aggregate, ambient or artificial lighting, etc. Different dilutions of colors can usually achieve an acceptable match.
Q: Will the colors fade with time?
A: Sometimes colors may get a little darker but overall there will be very little noticeable change. Periodic maintenance is helpful in reducing these effects.
Q: How many different designs are available?
A: Designs are only limited by your imagination in most all cases. There are many standard designs to choose from or you can provide a design idea or have one created.
Q: How deep are the engraving cuts?
A: The cuts are usually 1/16″ to 1/8″ deep. Deeper cuts are possible but in most cases not necessary unless there are considerable humps and dips in the surface. Usually, just enough depth to simulate a grout line or mortar joint. Various widths are available as well.
Q: What will an engraving job look like in several years?
A: With periodic maintenance, any design will look substantially the same years after application. Without maintenance, over time, engraved designs will take on a weathered or antiquated appearance. Although some consumers find this to be a desired look it is highly recommended to maintain the surface for added longevity.
Q: What maintenance does a completed job require?
A: A completed project is very low maintenance. Ideally, outside, all you need is to do is to wash it down periodically with a garden hose. Inside, a dry dust mop is all that is required to keep the surface clean and free of abrasives. If needed, a small amount of a mild detergent can be added to warm water to mop stubborn spills.
Q: How much will a project cost?
A: Obviously, a complete concrete staining, engraving or stenciling job relies upon concrete condition, total square footage, accessibility, design parameters and sealer choices. Generally, engraving and stenciling is very competitive with other types of flooring such as tile, stone, brick pavers, wood and overlays. in many cases it is less expensive and almost always longer lasting.
Q: Will my surface look as smooth as glass when complete?
A: Only if it was originally specified to be a stained surface and finished accordingly. Some trowel marks, pitting and other construction blemishes may exist. Some industrial coatings go a long way towards smoothing out the surface.
Q: Is there a guarantee on staining/engraving/stenciling and sealing?
A: Yes. The work carries a guarantee for one year after completion, excluding negligence by others and substrate deterioration.