There’s no need in this day and age to settle for a boring gray slab of concrete, when there are so many options for dressing it up. Concrete can come in any color, texture and shape. It can be used for outdoor patios, indoor flooring, countertops, and just about anything else you can think of. Concrete can be made to resemble granite, marble, slate and other natural stones. Different methods of improving concrete occur at different stages; during mixing, pouring and setting. Most improvements can be applied to existing slabs to give them new life.
Epoxy Coating: This industrial strength paint seals up concrete against moisture and damage, and comes in every color imaginable. It can be applied to existing concrete that is clean and in good shape. Paint flecks can be mixed in to add additional pattern.
Sealers: Concrete slabs, especially those intended for indoor use, benefit from having a sealer put over the top. Sealers add protection and can be used to apply color and gloss to the surface. A high gloss sealer will give a polished stone look.
Paint: Probably the least expensive, and least labor intensive way to give concrete a facelift is with simple outdoor grade paint. Be sure to choose a paint that is approved for use on concrete, and let your imagination do the rest.
Colored Hardeners: Hardening powders are meant to absorb moisture as it comes to the surface of a newly poured slab. If you use the pigmented variety, you will end up with a beautifully colored slab. They can be arranged in any color or pattern to give you limitless possibilities.
Acid Stain: The inorganic salts contained in this compound create a chemical reaction within the concrete that changes the color permanently. The resulting pattern is slightly mottled, resembling marble, usually in an earthy tone such as tan, deep red or green.
Scoring: Cuts made using a saw in the surface of concrete can make it look like ceramic or natural stone tiles. Applying a high gloss finish will give a more sophisticated look, while a matte finish will look more natural.
Stamping: Pressing specially designed stamps to concrete before it dries will give it texture. This texturizing can be done as scalloping or other designs, or can be an all-over design meant to resemble natural stone or some other material.
Any one of these methods will spruce up a concrete slab, and combining methods can make it unrecognizable as concrete. Most of the time, these design tools can be implemented at a fraction of the cost of working with other materials such as granite or tile, while still maintaining a high end, beautiful look.