What is decorative concrete? Decorative concrete is basically concrete that has no real structure value. Its mainly for the purpose of improving property value and eye appeal. Decorative concrete also makes it more easier to maintain. Concrete is very porous and crumbly, so these two things make it very unattractive.
Different kinds of decorative concretes are skim coats, overlays, stamped concrete, acid staining, alkaline staining, polishing, stain and polishing, and apoxie coatings. Skim coatings are usually 1/16 of an inch. They're made of Portland cement and different kinds of glue polymers. This would give your concrete surface a uniform and consistent look. Skim coats can be stained. They also can have stamping done to them and decorative saw cuts. Skim coatings are considered an overlay.
Stamped concrete would be considered an overlay too. These start off as a ¼ in. to ½ in. thickness. More prep work is needed on the concrete before the stamped overlay is done. The thickness of this would allow the stamping to take place. This could look like a brick road or huge chunks of natural stones connected together. These can be stained any color and usually have to have a topcoat sealer.
Acid staining gives the concrete a deep and natural look. The concrete would have to thoroughly be cleaned of any glue, paint, grease, dirt and left over thin set. The best way to properly prepare the concrete for this is to cut the floor surface with diamonds to a flat two-hundred grit surface. This will insure the concrete is open and the acid will penetrate the surface. Since acid etches and burns the concrete, it will be next to impossible to further polish out the concrete. The acid would have to be neutralized and a topcoat sealer would be applied. These are usually water-based acrylic, solvent-based acrylic, water- based acrylic urethane and solvent acrylic urethane. The acrylics by themselves tend to last two years and acrylic urethane tend to last 5-7 years. All four sealers mentioned are breathable, which is Vidal for keeping you concrete in excellent condition.
Concrete staining is the easiest to do. Its especially good for brand-new concrete. The prep work would involve mainly pressure washing at 2500 PSI and more than 180 degrees of hot water. Hot water expands the concrete and allows the dirt to leave so you can stain it. Cold water cracks the concrete. The right technician can stain the concrete any color.
Concrete polishing is cutting the surface of the concrete until its perfectly flat. Polish starts off at 400 grit surface. They can go up to 3000 grit. 400 grits are normally for stores and will have very little maintenance. 3,000 grit would be for high end homes.