Installation Guide

The driveway, path or patio that is going to have the pattern imprinted concrete applied needs preparing, this means excavating the existing surface to an average depth of around 200mm or 8 inch. A mini-digger is used, where this is not possible hand digging would be used.

The dug out material sub base that is taken up from the driveway or patio will be removed from the site the same day using our grab lorry, we do not use skips. This will give space and safety to the project.

The required amount Grade One Quarried Stone or reclaimed stone (we do not use broken brick as this will cause the concrete to sink) dependent upon the sub base and soil that has been excavated, will be spread across the area that is going to have the concrete laid before being compacted with a compacting machine. This will be at least 100mm or 4 inches of stone base laid onto the sub soil base. This will form a level, solid ground base on which to pour the concrete.

At this point, any manhole covers, recessed lids, drainage channels and steps will be set in place at the correct levels of the finished concrete.

When all the preparation is complete a specially High Strength Concrete (HSC - C60) from a national company will be delivered to site.

Incorporated within the concrete at the batching plant, will be fibre mesh reinforcing. The fibre mesh mixed together within the concrete will give the slab far greater strength when set hard. Once a sealer has been applied, the concrete will be between 20% and 30% harder than standard concrete.

The concrete is unloaded as speedily as possible using wheelbarrows, and it is placed evenly around the area to be paved.

The concrete will be poured to a minimum depth of 100mm or 8 inch for a domestic driveway. The concrete is then raked to the approximate (pre-determined) levels and then flattened using various screeding tools, to ensure the levels are correct and in order to achieve a flat concrete surface. The levels of the concrete are laid in such a way to ensure that surface water drains to all appropriate drainage that is installed.

Once screeded, a roller tamp is rolled over the surface of the concrete to remove any small undulations and bring some ‘fat’ to the surface.

Large magnesium floats (4’ wide) attached to long poles are then used to float the surface of the concrete. At this stage we now have a flat, floated, soft, wet, grey concrete slab. At this point work would normally finish with a ‘normal’ concrete slab, however, with us, the real work has only just begun!

After floating, the concrete is then coloured with the chosen colour (primary colour). This is a powdered dry shake material called Colour Surface Hardener (CSH). It is cast by hand over the surface of the concrete at a rate of about 2kgs per m² and allowed to hydrate before being floated into the concrete. The (now coloured) concrete is coloured again using the same material, allowed to hydrate and floated again to ensure that the area is not patchy and a uniform colour is achieved. Dependent on site conditions a third application of CSH may be applied to ensure a uniform and durable coloured surface.

Once the correct consistency of colour is achieved, the coloured concrete is ‘closed’ using large blue steel trowels (4’ wide) attached to long poles. This achieves a smooth surface, free of float marks (from the colouring process).

At this stage we now have a soft, wet, coloured, trowelled and closed concrete slab.

A coloured ‘antique’ release agent is then applied to the soft, wet, coloured concrete. This serves two purposes. Primarily, it is to prevent the imprinting mats from sticking to the concrete to ensure a crisp, clean print and secondly, by nature of it being coloured, it will be seen to impart a secondary ‘antique’, two tone effect to the surface of the paving, which will only be apparent when the paving has been washed off, a number of days later, when the concrete has become hard.

The imprinting of the concrete surface can now start.

Textured mats with your chosen pattern will be used to imprint the pattern into the concrete. The moulded rubber mats lock with each other to ensure a uniform pattern is imprinted across the concrete. We start to imprint the concrete with the rubber mats at an edge or corner of the driveway or patio and work across the concrete, as we move across the this will be imprinting the concrete at the same time. We might use a tamper to imprint the pattern into the concrete at a slightly deeper depth by taping the mat slightly with the weighted tamper.

When we have completed the printing process, the whole concrete area will be secured overnight to avoid anyone walking on the surface of the Pattern Imprinted Concrete.

The following day, depending on the weather conditions and how well the concrete has set, the completed driveway and surrounding area will be washed off with detergents, a release agent remover and a power pressure washer. When the concrete surface has been washed off, we then need to fit crack control joints - better known as expansion joints. These are cut into the surface of the concrete. These cuts are one of the most important parts of laying the pattern imprinted concrete. These joints allow the concrete to expand and contract with the air temperature and stop the concrete from cracking at a later date. The joints that are cut should, if possible, be cut along the printed pattern that has been imprinted into the concrete so that the joints in the concrete are not as noticeable.

The imprinted concrete now needs to be inspected  to see if the driveway or patio has dried sufficiently. If the pattern imprinted concrete has dried sufficiently we are ready to apply a sealant onto the surface of the concrete. The concrete sealer will be applied on a dry day with at least 24 hours of dry weather before the concrete sealer can be applied.

The sealer is applied with a bush, roller or sprayer, according to the sealer manufactures application instructions, to the concrete. Two coats of sealer are normally applied.

Usually the sealer is in most cases an acrylic one. A polyurethane sealer is used on concrete but in 99% of pattern imprinted concrete installations an acrylic sealer is applied to the concrete. A sealer not only protects the surface of the concrete but will bring the concrete driveway or patio to life, enhancing the true colours that were applied earlier. An anti-slip agent is added to the sealer to give extra grip on the surface of the concrete.

The sealer will give 1-3 years of use, depending on how well the concrete is used.

There you have it. We have now successfully installed a Your new Pattern Imprinted Concrete driveway, path or patio.

Remember - to keep the pattern imprinted concrete protected you will need to reseal the surface of the concrete every few years with a new concrete sealer. This is very important as the sealer protects the concrete.

Frequently Asked Questions

Some questions commonly asked by our customers

How long does the sealant last?

1 to 3 years depending on wear and tear. It is essential that it is sealed again as it protects the concrete, and a new coat brings it back to brand spanking new again.

Why do we need crack control joints?

Crack control joints are cut in at regular intervals as recommended by British Standards. They are cut to a depth of 25% of the slab. The object of this is so if a crack should occur, it would follow the direction of the weakened points so that the crack never becomes visible.

Can this be laid all year round?

Generally yes, although the cold weather does slow down the process slightly as the concrete may take longer to properly harden. In conditions under 5 celsius where damp and/or frost conditions may be experienced overnight we will delay the process.  If heavy frosts have been experienced overnight it may take the ground longer to reach an appropriate temperature to carry out certain procedures – just because air temperature reads 5 celsius does not mean that the ground temperature is the same. Whatever the factors involved we will try to keep you informed of anything affecting your installation.

Does the concrete crack or fade?

The risk of cracking can never be completely ruled out, but the risk is cut to a minimum by our specifications. In our experience, if a crack does eventually develop it will almost always remain barely visible. The colours do not fade - if they appear to do so, it merely means the concrete needs resealing.

How long must I stay off my new driveway?

24-48 hours for pedestrian traffic. 6 days for the car.

How strong is the concrete used?

The concrete used is guaranteed to reach a strength of 30 newtons or more. This is the same strength required for motorway concrete. In the summer we use 300 kgs cement per cubic metre and in the winter 380 kgs. All our concrete is re-enforced using fibre mesh and contains air entrains for frost protection.

How deep do you dig down?

200mm or 8".

Is it a messy job?

During the day of concrete pouring, it can be dusty, particularly if it is windy. However, the following day all traces of chalk dust are blasted away with a pressure washers to leave you’re installation in a clean and pristine condition.

How many colours and patterns are available?

We have a colour board with a large selection of colours and an extensive portfolio with all the patterns available.

How do I deal with accidental spillages?

For most spillages including oil, washing up liquid will be sufficient.

What happens if we have to have an area of imprinted concrete dug up?

We are able to uplift and relay sections leaving the finished job with little or no colour difference.

Are there any do's and don'ts?

Do not apply salt or grit salt directly to the surfaceDo re-seal.

  (We can offer a re-seal service at reasonable costs)

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