Stained concrete can be quite artistic

Gardening column
By: Kurt Voigt Special to The News Messenger
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The abstract, exotic and beautiful world of stained concrete opened my imagination to the possibilities one can experiment with the variety of acids. I had some stamped concrete work done at my residence, with the intention of using acid stains to ?color up? the dull, grey concrete. In all my years of landscaping, I?ve seen a lot of stained concrete patios and residential interior floors but I?ve never seen it done. This is my personal experience and story: Upon finishing the original pour and stamping of my patio, it was necessary to wait at least 30 days for curing before staining. I got brochures from concrete stain companies of available colors and proceeded to pick three colors. I worked with my concrete contractor to choose the best color scheme to get the most out of the variety of stains and how to use them. I chose the Kemiko brand of stains, a light beige/tan base called Malay Tan, with a ?cola? color sprayed over it and then black sprinkled on top (and I mean sprinkled). Let me mention something about staining: it?s very inconsistent and abstract. Unlike coloring concrete that is a solid, consistent color throughout, staining has swirls, sprays, explosions and ?rivers? of color. After the first application, my wife wanted it a little darker so I added a second application of cola. It was fun! I watched my contractor and duplicated the process. I wet the patio with water, sprayed the acid and waited ? and then ?broomed? it off with a baking soda and water solution to neutralize the acid and stop it from ?working.? Wow! What an exciting and colorful ?explosion? of colors! It truly looks like some exotic granite or marble floor! And wetting the concrete before spraying the acid is the key. Applying acid on a dry surface shows the effect like spraying paint on a canvas - you see every droplet and splatter. Wetting the surface blends the acid and water together and makes it ?run? and mix, similar to mixing two colors of paint together. It changes the original tone and color but then you also get variations of both colors. You get a whole new palette of colors and you can have every one of them on the patio at the same time. It?s quite exciting and fun! I felt like I was in kindergarten again doing finger painting and playing with colors. Although, like I said, you have to let go of control a little bit and take a risk. The outcome can be somewhat ?abstract.? However, based on the idea behind designing with stained concrete, you are trying to achieve an ?old world,? Mediterranean-style look to your concrete. So if you have cracks, chips or imperfect concrete, that only adds to the charm. Staining concrete is an excellent and beautiful solution to old concrete. Not only does it look awesome with new concrete, but by adding a stamp like Ashlar slate, it can look even more abstract and original. It is a great solution to fixing or dressing up old concrete and less expensive than tearing out and starting over. The Thunder Valley Casino floor, the old mill brick building where Old Town Pizza is and the Nugget Market in Rocklin are several examples of stained concrete. Kurt Voigt is a landscape designer/consultant. He can be reached at