It mixes, pours and spreads like plain old concrete. But if you add a little color and a decorative pattern, it's hard to tell a stamped concrete patio from one made of more expensive natural materials.
"If you're looking to add a little decorative flair to the exterior of your home, stamped concrete can be a good alternative to doing stone or slate, for example," explains Angie Hicks Founder of Angie's List.
For as little as $10 per square foot, stamped concrete can be half the cost of laying individual tiles or pavers. But don't trust the job to just any concrete company. Will Mattingly is a concrete professional with tips on what to look for.
"It requires a certain set of stamps and a certain set of tools to apply the color and a certain knowledge and mindset to do the whole project, and really consider it a piece of art when you're done with it," he said.
The best thing about stamped concrete is the wide variety of colors and patterns you can use.
"The options are endless," Mattingly said. "So when it comes to picking, it's best if a customer can get online, take a look around and see what they like, see what's going to match their house or match the setting. From there, we kind of guide them through the process."
If you already have a standard concrete driveway or patio, you can dress it up with what is called an overlay. They, too, look great, but can be hard to maintain in northern climates.
"Overlays kind of have their disadvantages there with moisture getting between the overlay and the subsurface, and when it freezes, it expands and it has the potential to pop that overlay off," Mattingly said.
Hicks says sealing the concrete every year or two can keep it looking great for 10 to 20 years. It's best to use the same sealer each time, so ask your contractor what he used on the original job. She says to also consider your landscaping because there's a lot of heavy equipment involved that will leave your yard a mess even after the project is complete.