Creating a Concrete Italian Villa

Decorative concrete contractor Laura Howard used vertical stamped concrete overlays to created an outdoor Italian Villa.

Before adding the concrete overlay the outdoor kitchen wall was plain with no artistic characteristics.
Before adding the concrete overlay the outdoor kitchen wall was plain with no artistic characteristics.

How do you get an Italian villa outdoor kitchen in Florida? With a vertical stamped concrete overlay, that's how. Decorative Designs, Ocala, Fla., recently completed a vertical concrete overlay on both walls and columns for a homeowner's outdoor kitchen, says Decorative Designs president Laura Howard. The job involved lots of color, lots of drama and little limitations or restrictions.

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.

At a Glance
Company:Decorative Designs
Ocala, Fla.
Decorative services offered: Concrete overlays, faux finishes and custom painting.Key products and equipment:
Architectural Enhancements water-based and mineral-based stains; Architectural Enhancements Tru-finish and Mediterrainian-finish; Clear coat polymer; trowels; plastic grapes and leaves; chip and artist brushes; Architectural Enhancements water-based sealer; Architectural Enhancements Vertex.