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How to stencil concrete.
How To Stencil Concrete

How To Stencil Concrete

Stenciled concrete is a cost effective solution to create a decorative concrete finish to your existing decks, as well as newly poured concrete, without the costs incurred from purchasing decorative concrete stamps or the use of real bricks and stones, to create the same patterns.  If you would like to achieve a more realistic finish, you can incorporate a seamless texture mat to add texture to the surface of the concrete.

Here are the basics, with details, on how to use concrete stencils to create patterned concrete, whether it be fresh stenciled concrete or textured concrete on an existing concrete driveway, patio, pool deck, etc.

Tools and Materials.  First off you will need more than just a concrete stencil.  You will also need, of course, concrete.  Whether it is going to be poured fresh, or you are using an existing slab, this will determine what you will need.

Existing Slab:
For an existing slab you will need muriatic acid or a good cleaner, pressure washer or a good stiff broom, crack filler if there are cracks, a squeegie, hopper gun, air compressor, steel trowels, floor scraper, and some decorative concrete coating material.

First you will need to determine if your concrete is sealed or not.  Pour a little water on the surface..if it absorbs into the concrete, it is not sealed.  If it just floats or beads up, it is sealed.  This will need to be removed.  (that is not covered here).  Also, if there are cracks, you will need to address those as well following the factory directions of whatever filler you opt to use.  (again, that will not be covered here)

Assuming that is finished and/or the concrete is in great condition, you are ready to move on.  You will need to determine if you want your concrete itself to be the color of your grout line (what will be left after you remove the stencil)

If so, great...begin to lay the stencil on the DRY concrete and adhere it down with small pieces of the Blu-Tack.  If you would like a different color grout line, then you will need to apply a layer of the material over the concrete.  Some systems require the ground to be wet, some dry.  Either way, wait until the product you are using is dry, and then lay the stencil down.

Great...the stencil is in place and you are ready.  Now you will apply the next layer/color of product over the entire area covering the stencil, working your way backwards, being careful not to snag the stencil with your feet.  For this process I am assuming you are using a concrete overlay that you are spraying out of the hopper gun.  Be sure to spray straight down at your feet and not away from you as to not spray material under the stencil ruining your grout line.  Cover the entire area.

Afterwards, when the product is dry, remove the stencil carefully, as to not drag it across and ruin your texture. (which by the way, you could've given a knock down effect with a steel trowel as you were moving along)  The next day, use the floor scraper on a low angle to lightly scrape off any high texture points, broom or blow off the loose debris, and it is ready to be sealed.  Use a UV stable concrete sealer.

As you can see, it is involved, and one can appreciate why contractors charge what they charge.  However, with a little patience, this can be done by yourself (and a friend).  Worst case, you can always just use paint over the stencil being careful not to push the paint under the stencil.  Good Luck.

Fresh poured concrete is a little more involved so I will be brief as I'm sure most projects will be over existing concrete anyways.

Obviously you will need to pour the concrete.  If you are ordering it, ask for a 5 to 6 inch slump.  Not too dry, not too wet.  After the concrete is screeded flat, the rock pushed down with a cage roller or juke, troweled smooth and edged properly, you will again need to decide if you want to have the gray grout line or a different color. (actually you probably should know this answer prior to beginning so you already have the color materials on hand)

If you choose the concrete, then press the stencil into the concrete, troweling it into the surface just below, so it is not sticking up. Afterwards, you will broadcast out a colorant called Color Hardener over the surface, covering the entire area.  This will then be troweled in.  If that is what you wanted, you are done. At the end of the day when the concrete is firm, remove the stencil being careful not to drag it across the surface..  (pause)  Had you wanted to have a different color grout line, you would have casted one color on prior to applying the stencil, then followed the steps as explained.

Additionally, if you wanted to add texture to the pattern, a colored Release Powder could have been applied over the colored concrete (do not trowel this in), and then used a Seamless Texture Skin Mat to press in some texture. Walk Away. (play)

The next day, within 12 to 16 hours from pouring the concrete, saw cut your expansions approximately every 10 ft (10 ft squares or whatever is visually appealing)  Concrete tends to crack every 10 ft.  Do not mess with the surface at this point.

The next day (this is two days later), sweep off, rinse, broom, clean the surface.  Let dry completely and seal. Typically you would want to wait the 28 day cure time before sealing, but there are some sealers that will allow for earlier sealing. Either way, it is up to you.

Here is a great link to a video that shows the stencil used with fresh concrete: 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmL7FhiKzmY&feature=related

Hope that was helpful.  If you need to obtain any tools or material listed in this writeup, please feel free to contact us directly.

A Training DVD is also available for purchase if preferred.

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