The concrete overlays took about a week to complete. Howard used a total of 10 gallons of Architectural Enhancements' Tru-finish and Mediterranean-finish on the walls and about 25 gallons of Architectural Enhancements' Vertex on the columns to create a brick look.
For the Italian-inspired walls, Howard started with a clear coat of polymer followed by a troweled-on scratch coat of the Tru-finish. After drying, she applied another coat of polymer this time followed with a troweled-on coat of the Mediterranean-finish. Howard applied the thicker coat of the Mediterranean-finish with a skip trowel technique to leave open areas across the wall.
To add detail to the wall, Howard dipped plastic grapes and leaves into a watered-down Mediterranean-finish and adhered them directly to the wall. "What's great is with the Mediterranean-finish you have the ability to artistically place your vines and grapes. By thinning down the product it allows you to hand place your design without worrying about it adhering to the wall or sliding down," Howard says.
Once dry, she stained the wall tans and browns using a sprayer, chip brushes and a combination of mineral- and water-based stains. Howard used artist brushes to stain and detail the grapes and leaves. A water-based Architectural Enhancements' sealer finished the Italian villa walls.
To add more detail to the outdoor kitchen, Howard added vertically stamped concrete bricks to the lower portion of the structural columns in the kitchen. She used a process similar to the one she used on the walls, starting with a clear coat of polymer followed by an "aggressive scratch coat" of Tru-finish. "The aggressive scratch coat has deeper indents for a better hold," Howard says.
After another layer of polymer, Howard applied a thick layer of Architectural Enhancements' Vertex, which is a vertically stamped texture concrete mix designed for faux looks such as brick. After letting the Vertex set for only a short time, she used texture tools to create and sculpt the bricks. Using the sprayer and chip brushes she stained the bricks with six different colors, including white and black for an aged look. She finished with the same water-based sealer. "The key is to not put all the accent colors on too heavy and too even. Having the variety in colors with no definite pattern is what makes the wall and bricks look so realistic," Howard says.
"This was definitely a project for two people," she says. "It would have been difficult to do by yourself because the concrete needs to be mixed constantly." Howard had one person on site mixing the concrete while she applied, sculpted and stained.
"Vertical stamped overlays are a part of the industry that is overlooked," Howard says. "It's an untapped resource that hasn't had its full exposure yet." As a decorative concrete contractor, it's easy to add vertical overlays to jobs you are already quoting, she adds.
A concrete fireplace to warm up to
Cast-in-place and precast concrete fireplace surrounds are becoming popular with home¬owners, but another option - one which Unique Decorative Concrete, Ionia, Mich., recently completed - is creating a concrete fireplace surround using a vertical stamped overlay.
Unique Decorative Concrete built a 101/2-foot-long hearth, an 8-foot-tall fireplace surround and a 10-inch-wide mantel around a ventless gas fireplace. The project took president Jeff Szalony approximately one week to complete.
Szalony's first step on the job was to build a cast-in-place hearth, which he stamped and textured using a slate texture and integral colors and stains to create the look he wanted.
With the hearth completed, Szalony was able to move on to the overlayed fireplace surround and mantel, on which he used 12 bags of Increte's Thin-Crete Vertical Stamped Overlay Mix. He framed the fireplace using conventional lumber then covered the frame with 2-inch expanded polystyrene (EPS). Using a hot knife, he cut joints into the EPS to create faux stones. He added more EPS to some of the stones to create depth.
After sanding and shaping the EPS, Szalony applied a scratch coat of Thin-Crete. He troweled fiberglass mesh into the scratch coat to serve as reinforcement. A coat of Bond-Crete covered the scratch coat followed by another layer of Thin-Crete.