The Art of Concrete EngravingMay 6, 2015
Concrete is the most commonly used building material in the world, but is normally taken for granted. However, an innovative process called concrete engraving is shining new light on this humble material. Concrete engraving is a technique that can transform any plain, grey concrete surface, quite literally, into a work of art. Newly laid or existing concrete surfaces can be engraved, provided the concrete is hardened, or ‘cured’, and clean. Indeed, the cracks and flaws in existing concrete surfaces can be incorporated into the new design, if so desired, so you can embellish your home or business with ripping up existing concrete.
Acid Stain Properties
Concrete engraving involves adding an acid stain – a mixture of water, acid and inorganic salts – to the concrete. The stain reacts with the concrete substrate at a molecular level, meaning that it not only increases the thickness, but also produces a unique colour, depending on the age, colour, chemical composition and porosity of the existing substrate. Unlike other types of concrete coating, such as epoxy or polyurethane, the stain used in concrete engraving actually becomes an integral part of the concrete surface, so cannot chip, flake or peel.
Concrete engraving can be performed on exterior and interior concrete surfaces, and hence used to create unique decorative effects in a range of residential and commercial settings, including car parks, driveways, entry halls, patios, restaurants and shopping malls. Concrete engraving is not limited to subtle, ‘earthy’ colours – vivid oranges, reds and yellows are now among the possibilities, as are geometric patterns, such as brick, stone or tile, natural elements and logos.
The first step in concrete engraving is to thoroughly clean the area to be engraved and repair any cracks, if necessary. Any grease, grime or other impurities will prevent the stain from penetrating and reacting with the concrete surface properly. The next step is to stain the concrete with an acid stain that reacts chemically with the surface of the concrete to create durable, permanent colour. Once the application is complete, any residual stain is removed and the concrete surface is neutralised with mild alkali solution.
Engraving & Finishing
The concrete is engraved, or etched, in straight or curved lines with concrete engraving equipment to create the desired effect and, finally, finished with sealer or wax. The entire process can typically be completed within a week, or shorter, depending on the size and condition of the area to be engraved, the number of coats of stain required and, of course, the weather. Once finished, engraved concrete is resistant to oil spills and tyre marks and weeds have no opportunity to penetrate the surface, as they do with, say, brick pavers.
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