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Concrete stenciling is a process which is used to create a pattern in freshly poured concrete or in a concrete overlay applied to an existing concrete installation. When this process is done well, the result can be very aesthetically pleasing, creating the illusion of a tiled, cobblestoned, or similarly patterned surface. People can do concrete stenciling on their own if they are skilled at crafts, or they can hire firms which will provide stenciling as part of concrete installation services.
To stencil concrete, a stencil is carefully applied to poured concrete or an overlay. The solid parts of the stencil create the “mortar” of the pattern, with the stencil being pressed into the concrete with a roller to create a raised pattern. Then, a color hardener can be sprinkled over the stencil. The color hardener will tint the exposed areas of concrete. As the concrete starts to firm up, a roller can be run across the exposed areas to create a textured appearance, or they can be left smooth, depending on personal taste.
Once the concrete is dry, the stencil can be removed. The areas of the concrete covered by the stencil will be recessed, and will retain the color of the original concrete pour. A finish can be applied to the surface to seal the concrete and create a desired aesthetic appearance, such as an antiqued or highly glossy look. Finished concrete stenciling projects can look very realistic, allowing people to create the appearance of stone, tile, and other flooring materials from ordinary concrete.
Stencils for concrete can only be used once, as they tend to become damaged during the stenciling process and as they are lifted up from the finished product. The stencils come in large rolls, and it is important to align stencils carefully so that the pattern has continuity. The stencil also needs to be trimmed away from the edges of the concrete so that it can expand slightly as the concrete expands while it sets.
Concrete is a popular material for flooring because it is highly durable, and it can be installed over heating and cooling systems with ease. Concrete is also relatively inexpensive. Many people are not interested in concrete flooring because they have an image of the dull gray color of conventional concrete; concrete stenciling can greatly enliven a floor, and visitors may be surprised to learn that the colorful, textured flooring is actually the result of concrete stenciling.
I worked for a concrete stenciling company for a number of years and let me tell you, it is hard work. You have to look after both the quality of the stencil and also take extreme care that you don't disrupt the carefully poured concrete.
But it can also be very rewarding work. There is a huge variety of concrete floor stencils and people get very artistic. I was just an installer so that wasn't really my specialty, but I worked with a lot of stencils that transformed the floor into a work of art.
I poured a concrete patio in my backyard and my wife used the opportunity to stencil a border around the edges. It is a pretty simple checkerboard pattern but it really catches the eye and it elevates the patio above being a normal concrete slab.
She is really handy like that and always doing some kind of craft project. She has wanted to try concrete stenciling for a while but how often do you really have the opportunity? Luckily one came up and she did great. Can't wait to see what the next patio looks like.
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