To say there has been an explosion in demand for decorative concrete is quite the understatement. Homeowners are hiring decorative concrete specialists to color, stain, score, stamp, overlay or otherwise decorate the pool decks, entries, driveways and walkways around their homes.
Training opportunities for decorative concrete applications are exploding. The Stamp Store in Oklahoma City recently started offering two training classes per month instead of one just to meet demand. Concrete Solutions Inc., out of San Diego, Calif., notes that their training classes are filled with contractors adding decorative concrete to their repertoire or adding on new decorative techniques.
What is driving this huge growth in demand for decorative concrete? What trends are emerging that those of us with an interest in the decorative concrete industry can fill? Think vacation spot — homeowners want a resort right in their back yard.
AMCON, located in Gaithersburg, Md., is seeing a large increase in pool-related projects. AMCON creates an array of hardscape projects — including patios, porches, walkways, and driveways — by using stamped and colored concrete techniques that complement a variety of landscapes and provide a touch of individuality to a homeowner's back yard. “Many homeowners not only want a pool, but a total package — a backyard retreat in which they can escape and relax at the end of the day and on weekends,” says Mary Amaro of AMCON.
Adds Mike Boedekker of Pristine Concrete in Paso Robles, California: “Today, people want their own private vacation spot, somewhere they can retreat to every day.”
omeowners often want an extension of their house — an exterior surface that flows with the indoor flooring materials they have used. Boedekker is also receiving a lot of requests for outdoor kitchens with barbecues, sinks, burners, warmers, refrigerators and even storage areas.
Using decorative concrete as part the overall design of a home is also happening in the Staples, Minn., area. “We have been doing large decorative driveways, 2,000 to 5,000 square feet, lakeside patios and wrap around porches,” says Mike Verlennich of Verlennich Masonry and Concrete. “This is in keeping with the rustic and log homes found in the lake areas.” Verlennich also noted that sometimes someone will see one of their projects out in public and have to find out more. One woman visiting her local Dairy Queen eagerly entered the drive-thru and asked not for an ice cream but for information — she wanted to know who created the sandblasted, red cobblestone patio, accented in black. When the woman found out about Verlennich, she contacted the company and said she wanted her sidewalk to look just like the Dairy Queen patio — minus the big Dairy Queen logo, of course.
Decorative contractors are also sprucing up existing concrete. Concrete Art, located in Carlsbad, Calif., turns boring gray concrete into surfaces with innovative designs and vibrant colors. “We enhance existing surfaces so homeowners don't have to go through the arduous process of replacing concrete,” says company president Jeffrey Grieve. Concrete Art, whose clientele is equally split between residential and commercial, installs 350 projects per year. “With the large amount of refinancing occurring in Southern California due to low interest rates and soaring values in real estate, people are spending money enhancing their homes, not only as an investment vehicle, but to make living in them more pleasurable.”
Bill Guthro of Distinctive Concrete, located in Boston, points out that stamped concrete is also very cost effective. “Stamped concrete is usually about one-third less than the price of installing natural materials,” according to Guthro.
As more homeowners and business owners see the options they have available with concrete, and with the creativeness shown by decorative concrete contactors, the decorative boom is sure to continue and grow out into the future. After all, given the chance, who doesn't want a vacation spot right in their back yard?