Stamped concrete offers a wonderful way to combine the attractive qualities of natural stone paving with the economical advantages only concrete can offer. There are many different factors to decide on when choosing a stamped concrete surface, from the color to the texture, to the type of natural stone you most want to mimic.
One other key choice has to do with the so-called release agent used during installation. True to its name, a release agent is designed to facilitate the removal of the plastic mats used to impart the look and texture of stone paving to the concrete. Without release agent, the mats would be much more likely to stick, leading to an unsightly and obviously unnatural appearance.
There are two main types of release agent: powdered and liquid. Don't worry if you are not familiar with the distinction between them- after all, not that many people outside the concrete profession are. This article will outline three things to know when choosing between powdered and liquid release agent.
Powdered Release Agent Enhances Texture
The principal ingredient of most powdered release agents is paraffin. This substance is capable of resisting the forces of adhesion on many different types of materials- concrete and plastic being the operative two in this case. Powdered release agents also excel at imparting naturalistic variations in texture to the concrete.
Such textures occur as a result of the powder's physicality. In other words, when the plastic mats are laid down on top of the concrete, they will press the powder down into it, especially around the joints, edges, and pattern lines. This gives the resulting surface a much greater degree of shading, allowing it to mimic the unpredictable variations of natural stone more closely.
Of course, not every stamped concrete surface can benefit from an increase in its textural qualities. Depending on the particular application, as well as the unique aesthetic vision at play, a smoother, more uniform result may be desired. In that case, a liquid release agent is generally preferable, as it allows for easy removal of the mats without the mottled textures associated with powder.
Powdered Release Agents Can Boost Coloration
Texture isn't the only area where powdered release agents can bring an added measure of complexity. They are equally good at enhancing the coloration of a stamped concrete surface. That's because a wide range of pigments can be added to powdered release agent, thus enabling it to enhance the concrete's integral coloration.
You can also add color to liquid release agents, but the results won't be quite so breathtaking. The spray-on application method used with liquid release agent is simply too effective at dispersing it evenly. That's a good thing if what you are looking for is a uniform appearance, but not quite as effective if you are hoping to replicate the sorts of color variations found in natural stone.
In that case, a powdered release agent is the way to go. Because it is broadcasted across the surface by hand, powdered release agent will yield more variations in the intensity of color in certain areas. This will lead to a more natural appearance, with some portions of the pavement being slightly more mottled than others.
Liquid Release Agents Are Easier To Work With
Powdered release agents can be difficult to work with, especially when used in outdoor applications. The fine, dry, lightweight nature of powdered release agents means the particles can easily become airborne. This is especially problematic when working with a tinted release agent, as it may end up blowing onto nearby walls, plants, and other structural features, which then become stained in that particular color.
Powdered release agent also requires that more safety measures be taken by those doing the installation, to prevent accidental inhalation. A liquid release agent, on the other hand, is applied by means of a sprayer wand. When performed by an experienced professional, this process is much cleaner and much more predictable.
Get The Best Results By Hiring A Professional
Both powdered and liquid release agents are capable of delivering high-quality results. Of course, the key is to ensure that the installation process is carried out by a true pro. For more information about what it means to install stamped concrete correctly, feel free to contact the experts at Central Carolina Concrete.