Wood Stamped Concrete Alternative To High Lumber Prices
Lumber prices are out of control. Prices for lumber tripled between April 2020 and April 2021. This was due to the combined effects of increased demand, reduced supply, and import tariffs. Unfortunately, this lines up with an increased focus on outdoor living spaces like patios and decks. This trend is expected to continue for years to come, as people enjoy staying home and spending time in their yard. But with skyrocketing costs, it is time to consider stamped concrete as an alternative to wood decks.
Cost of Wood Decks
The average price of wood decks has gone up quite a bit over the past year. The cost to build a wood deck can range anywhere from $15 per square foot to over $35 per square foot according to Homeguide. Even the most basic materials, such as pressure treated lumber, have ballooned in price and can cost over $20 per square foot. Using more premium materials, such as cedar or composite materials will drive that price up even more.
Maintenance is often overlooked when pricing wooden decks. Annual maintenance may cost as much as $1 to $3 per square foot for traditional lumber. With proper maintenance, a wooden deck is expected to last 25 to 40 years. If not properly maintained, the expected lifespan is far shorter. Even for a small deck, that amounts to tens of thousands of dollar in upkeep over the lifespan of the deck. Premium composite materials will require less upkeep, but they will cost much more to install.
Cost of Stamped Concrete
In the past, homeowners did not want to stamped concrete because they thought it was too expensive compared to wood decks. Stamped concrete would make up for the cost difference with longevity and reduced maintenance, but the initial cost was still quite a bit higher. However, with current conditions, choosing to stamp concrete may even be cheaper to start with. According to the Concrete Network, the cost to stamp concrete can be as low as $8 per square foot for the simplest designs. Mid range stamped concrete patios will more likely cost in the $12 to $18 per square foot range. This puts the cost to stamp concrete on par with the vast majority of wooden decks.
Maintenance is where stamped concrete is most competitive. Residential stamped concrete surfaces will only require occasional cleaning. Depending on traffic levels and wear patterns, it will require resealing every 2 to 3 years. Depending on the sealer used, this should only cost $1 or $2 per square foot. Stamped concrete patios should easily last 25 years or more. In some regions, stamped concrete has been known to last as long as 50 years with minimal wear. It does not matter if you go basic or premium as all levels of stamped concrete should have about the same maintenance and lifespan characteristics.
How to Stamp Concrete
The process for how to stamp concrete is not terribly complicated on the surface. Homeowners may be tempted to stamp concrete on their own, but this is not recommended. Quality concrete stamps and finishing tools are expensive. That alone makes stamping concrete unfriendly for DIY projects.
Homeowners should start by selecting a local contractor that can stamp concrete. Decorative concrete specialists are usually preferred, but there are plenty of talented flatwork contractors that can also stamp concrete. See what kind of concrete stamps the contractor has available so you can select the stamp concrete patterns that work best. After choosing the concrete stamps, select the color combinations that work best with the pattern and surrounding structures. For the full process, watch this video.
Wood Stamped Concrete
If you want to directly replace wood decking with stamped concrete, there are plenty of wood look stamped concrete patterns on the market. Wood stamped concrete patterns are actually some of the most popular kinds of concrete stamps. Wood texture concrete stamps come in a variety of widths and grain patterns. Once you've chosen the concrete stamps, move on to colors. Unlike natural wood, concrete can be made in a wide variety of colors that are permanent and fade-free. Most concrete wood textures work best with different shades of brown, tan, or red as the base color. Dark brown, dark gray, or black release will work best to highlight any of these color families. More ambitious contractors can also use water-based stains to highlight and create natural looking color variation. To mimic a polyurethane finish, seal with a high gloss solvent-based sealer. For a more natural look, use a low gloss sealer or a penetrating sealer.