One of the biggest trends in home improvement is homeowners wanting more extensive and elaborate outdoor spaces. Stamped concrete is paving the way to making yards much more comfortable, giving homeowners much more needed hardscapes. Some homeowners may even want stamped concrete services on other parts of their property, like their walkways or driveways. But, some homeowners fear that if they have stamped concrete installed, it may develop unsightly cracks. And there is nothing more annoying than having beautiful hardscapes with a considerable gap running through them. One of the significant flaws of concrete is that it can develop cracks. But, cracking is usually the exception, not the norm. So, does stamped concrete crack? Read on to learn more about why cracks form and how to prevent this from happening.
When you see cracks forming in your concrete, there could be several reasons why this could happen. Here are some of the most common causes.
One of the reasons you may see cracks in your stamped concrete is the poor quality of work and materials used by the installation team. A quality stamped concrete installation team will use the proper amount of water and mix so that the concrete won’t crack. They will also ensure that the subgrade is appropriately cleared and leveled so that the concrete won’t settle and crack after it dries. Proper installation is one of the best forms of protection against unsightly cracks.
Even if you have some of the best installers on the planet to install your stamped concrete, mother nature can still wreak havoc. For example, if the soil underneath the stamped concrete is constantly expanding or shrinking, this could make your concrete crack.
Sometimes not allowing the concrete to cure may cause concrete to crack. When concrete dries, it is not as hard as it seems, at least not initially. It may take 2 to 3 days to dry on the surface. However, right below the surface, it is still curing. It could take up to 30 days or even longer for the concrete to officially dry all the way through. This is why some stamped concrete installers may encourage you not to put heavy items on the concrete for several weeks. This is especially true when they revamp your driveway. Parking a car that is over a ton or a truck that is over three tons on freshly cured concrete can cause irreversible damage.
Likewise, if you upgrade your patio and place lots of heavy outdoor furniture on your recently laid stamped concrete, this may damage it. It is a good idea to wait. Concrete should reach 90 percent of its strength within a week of installation. However, to ensure that it is completely cured, it may be good to wait several weeks or the full 30 days.
The good news is that if your stamped concrete cracks, you can have the installer fix the problem. As with most concrete fixes, the contractor will use epoxy and a concrete sealant to fix the crack. If the stamped concrete has a tint, they will ensure that they use epoxy as close to a match to the color as possible. The method for fixing the crack may vary depending on the company. For instance, some companies treat the gap and fill it in with a sealant, even out the sealant and the concrete, and lay epoxy on top to make it appear as if the crack never happened. Whatever method is necessary to close the gap in your concrete, you can rest assured that it will be flawless once they complete the task.
Prevention is critical to keep unsightly cracks out of your stamped concrete. One way to prevent the cracks is to have a professional stamped concrete company install them. They will use the proper mix and be sure to place stamp impressions into the concrete at the right time. Professionals will also make sure that the subgrade is level. Another way to prevent cracks is to follow the guidelines that professionals give you to allow the concrete to cure. For instance, it may not be a good idea to park your cars in your driveway for at least a week after stamp concrete installation because the heaviness may interfere with the curing process. One more great way to prevent cracks in stamped concrete is to apply a sealant. Sealant penetrates the pores of the concrete, making it less likely to crack than unsealed stamped concrete.
Like pretty much everything you own, it will last longer if you maintain it. The same applies to stamped concrete. If you want to prevent cracks over the long term, it is a good idea to have regular maintenance on your stamped concrete. This includes proper cleaning. Using a blower will help keep rocks and other debris off the surface that could scratch it. Also, using a gentle cleanser and garden hose, instead of power washing, can help. It is helpful to get your stamped concrete resealed about every two years. It is also a good idea to minimize using deicing salts on your stamped concrete in winter, as they interfere with the natural freeze/thaw cycles and could damage the sealants on your decorative concrete. Additionally, you should attempt to remove spills, oil, and other buildups right away, as these could eventually lead to problems with your stamped concrete, especially if the concrete isn’t sealed.
So to answer your question, “does stamped concrete crack easily?” Yes, if professionals don't install it. So, to minimize your risk of this happening, it is a good idea to work with a winning stamped concrete team like Kansas City Stamped Concrete Pros! It is also a good idea to follow some of these instructions in this blog. Additionally, we can answer your questions about stamped concrete services and quell your fears about cracking. For a FREE inspection and quote, call (913) 379-2990.