How to Stencil Concrete

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Stenciling can be done in freshly poured concrete or in existing concrete that has been covered by an overlay. Stenciling is a decorative design applied to concrete. Stencil patterns come in many different designs and colors. It is fairly simple to do and adds curb appeal and value to your home.

Things You'll Need

  • bullfloat
  • stencil roller
  • concrete edger
  • scissors
  • concrete saw
  • power washer
  • After you pour the concrete, float and edge the slab in the usual manner and then place the stencils on the surface while the concrete is still wet but free of excessive bleed water. Placement requires two people, with one person holding the stencil roll while the other person holds the uncoiled end on the opposite side of the slab. Once the stencil is laid down atop the slab, it's plastered to the surface with a special stencil roller.

  • The stencil is placed and worked one strip at a time. Because the stencils are die cut, the strips must be aligned in a specific manner to ensure pattern continuity, similar to aligning strips of patterned wallpaper. After the entire slab is covered, you use a pair of scissors to trim the stencil to about 1/8 inch inside the form boards (this allows for the stencil to swell a bit). A bull float(a flat smooth float for smoothing concrete) is then used to stick down the edges.

  • The next step is to hand spread color hardener onto the surface (at the manufacturer's recommended rate) and work it into the slab with a bullfloat. This process is best done immediately after stencil application, while the concrete surface still has enough moisture to be absorbed by the hardener.

  • With stone or brick stencil patterns, the use of a texture roller or seamless texture skins will give the surface a more realistic, slightly roughened profile. With tile patterns, there is no need to texture the slab, Instead, a trowel can be used to smooth over any imperfections.

    Before texturing, a liquid or powdered antiquing release agent is applied to the surface. When the slab is firm enough to accept the roller's weight and still wet enough to receive the texture, you can begin to go over the slab with the roller. Where the roller creates depressions in the surface, the pigment leaves shadows that look like natural color variations. Manufacturers offer rollers with different textures to allow contractors to produce a variety of decorative effects.

  • As soon as the slab has been textured, it's time to remove the stencils. The last piece of stencil laid is removed first, with a person standing on either side of the slab and lifting the stencil straight up from the ends. After the stencil is completely clear of the surface, it's carried off to the side and disposed of.

  • The day after you pour, you can clean off the release agent, saw cut the control joints and seal the slab surface.

    The next day, the release agent is swept from the slab.

    Than you thoroughly clean the slab with a pressure washer

    Saw crack control joints in larger areas such as driveways and patios

    Apply concrete sealer and wahlah your beautiful finished product

Tips & Warnings

  • There are several manufacturers where you can find many different stencil patterns and the various tools you will need to do the job. Have fun, it is really not as hard as it looks and creates a great look that will last a long time.

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