Decorative Concrete, Terminology Worth Talking About

painting concrete at concrete decor show

Decorative concrete is a term I stumbled upon 18 years ago after coming across a job site where concrete stains were being used to color the concrete inside a new salon in the mountain town of Murphy’s, California. The first thing I did was call a construction supply store near my home that sold these kinds of products and it was there I heard those words for the first time – decorative concrete.

The term grew on me quickly because its references made sense. At the time, though, I just didn’t realize that this term, decorative concrete, extended far beyond an array of reactive, acrylic and dye stains for concrete.

stained concrete entryway

What was intriguing was that these concrete staining products could be used not only on concrete surfaces, new or old, they were also applicable to resurfacing products that have traditionally been referred to as overlays, micro-toppings, stampable overlays and self-leveling overlays. I was even more fascinated to discover that the various ways these overlay products were applied could actually influence the unique and creative ways these different types of stains responded with these products. And it didn’t stop there.

stamped concrete backyard patio

This decorative concrete term extended over onto precast concrete products like concrete statues, concrete countertops, outdoor surfaces such as concrete rock features, water fountains and carved concrete applications, which, by the way, are really cool. Concrete polishing applications were also getting a dose of color as consumers marveled at a range of color options that, yes, even included shades of gray. If that weren’t enough, ready-mix companies now offered a widening array of colors for new concrete that could be textured, stenciled, polished and even stained to deliver a subtle earth tone finish.

stained concrete floor with compass design

It was a year later, while visiting Disney World in Orlando, that my eyes gazed upon a multitude of ways concrete stains were incorporated into themes as stains gave color to concrete surfaces in ways other products could not. Better yet, they had unique abilities to withstand exposure to harsh weather conditions sometimes giving rise to a patina that only Mother Nature could challenge. Indeed, this material so respected for its structural integrity now had elements of decor written all over it.

stamped concrete pool deck with gorgeous stair entrance

With more than 100 editions of Concrete Decor magazine under the belt, concrete staining products have become a part of the bedrock for an industry that is constantly transforming the way people look at and think about concrete. I’d like to think of it as decorative concrete. Why? Because it makes sense and, more importantly, it’s what helps to define an industry that today is in vogue. It’s in demand and it simply labels other building solutions as “traditional” and that is just not what people are all that into these days.

What are your thoughts? Is ‘decorative concrete’ a term you use in business? Do your customers understand this language? How does it define your occupation? Does Concrete Decor do a good job of defining decorative concrete?

Let us know in the comments below!

stamping workshop at concrete decor show

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