Concrete Contractors

Carved Concrete and Overlays

Carved concrete is a method of replicating stone and wood with concrete. Typically done by hand, it is used in outdoor and indoor applications.

Moore’s sculptural experimentation with concrete in the interwar years contradicted his doctrine of ‘truth to materials.’ His twenty-one concrete works often evoked the appearance of other media, such as stone and wood.¬†Learn More¬†here.


This method of carving concrete involves hand sculpting a wet mixture of cement and sand. It requires a lot of patience as it can take hours to get the sculpture right. It can also be tiring because the concrete must be carved quickly before it hardens. Wearing gloves and coating the hands in petroleum jelly will help to prevent the concrete from damaging skin. Creating a wet sculpture with concrete is very enjoyable because it can be done without using power tools.

The first step in wet carving is to secure a cast. This can be a home made cast or a purchased one from a hardware store. Concrete can be poured directly into the cast, or it can be placed over a wire mesh and then sprayed with water to make sure that the concrete stays moist.

When pouring the concrete, a mold must be used to ensure that the concrete is not too thick and the concrete is not too wet. If the concrete is too thick, it will be difficult to carve and will also be more likely to crack in the future. Concrete that is too wet will be difficult to sculpt and will dry out very fast. The ideal consistency is that of modeling clay.

It is important to spray the work in progress with a spray bottle to inhibit rapid moisture loss. This can be done throughout the day as long as the sculpting is not interrupted. It is also helpful to enclose the piece in a plastic bag. This allows the water deep inside to migrate toward the drier outer layer, thereby swelling it and closing any cracks.

If a crack does occur, the area should be soaked with a damp cloth. This will help to keep the crack from drying further, and it may even reswell the cracked area enough to close the crack completely.

Generally, if you are using a Walttools branded vertical carving mix like Tru Pac X or TPX V, there is no need to use a bonding agent. Both of these vertical carving mixes have been extensively tested and proven in the field for their reliability. They have found their way onto a number of projects all over the world including amusement parks, zoos and in your neighbor’s backyard. They are the most reliable vertical carving mixes available on the market.

If you want to carve concrete like statues and hyroglyphs, it will require special tools. These tools will need to be very sharp to work well, so you should wear a good pair of protective eyewear. Then, you will need a concrete mix that is designed for dry carving. This type of mix has been formulated with coarse aggregates and is more viscous than normal mortar mixes. It is often used for outdoor sculptures and statues, as it holds its shape better. Then, you will need to add a plastic bag to the mix, and this will help prevent any moisture loss from the air.

This type of concrete is not usually available at home improvement stores, but you can find it online or at specialty concrete supply companies. The best choice is a high-quality cement, such as ShapeCrete, which will hold its shape while being easily carved. You should also choose a coarse aggregate, such as granite or river rock, for this type of cement. It will be more durable than fine aggregates, and it will have less chance of scratching your finished piece.

Before you can start carving the concrete, you will need to prepare it by mixing it and pouring it into a mold. Then, you will need to let it sit for a few days until it is hard enough to carve. This process is similar to how you would create a concrete casting, so it is important to take your time and follow the instructions carefully.

Another consideration when creating a concrete carving is the type of wood you are using. Green wood will still have a high level of moisture, so it can be more difficult to carve than dry wood. In addition, the swell and shrink of living wood can cause it to crack.

Using a kiln to dry wood can speed up the process. You can also try hanging the wood upside down in a well-ventilated area with a bit of string. It is also recommended to sand the wood to remove any soft spots and to cut it into sections if needed before drying.

Concrete overlays are thin layers of concrete (usually between an eighth and a quarter inch!) that can be troweled on to existing concrete to cover damage, discoloration, or simply give it a face lift. They can be used on floors, walls, fireplaces, and other surfaces.

They can be carved or stamped for visual texture, color, and other aesthetics. They are ideal for hiding stains, pitting, or damage from deicing salts and freeze-thaw cycles that can affect the integrity of an older slab. Overlays are also a more affordable option than removing and replacing the existing concrete and can be a great solution when repairing cracks is not feasible.

Before an overlay can be installed, the surface must be cleaned and prepped for bonding to the existing concrete. This process can involve acid etching, shotblasting, diamond grinding, scarifying, or any other method that roughens the existing surface for a strong, long-lasting bond. If cracks are present, they must be repaired before the overlay is installed so that they do not reform and mirror through to the topping.

After the existing concrete is prepared, the overlay mix is applied. The water in the mix initiates a chemical reaction called hydration, which hardens the overlay. Additives can be included in the mix to enhance specific properties, such as workability, setting time, or strength. The ratio of these ingredients also plays an important role in the durability of the finished product.

Once cured, the new surface is ready for decorative finishing and can be broom swept or power swept to remove dust and dirt. It can also be sealed for protection against staining and other environmental factors.

Carved concrete made from an overlay can replicate the look of many different materials. Examples include stone paths, wood walkways, or even a rose within your concrete flooring! It is important to discuss the exact finish you want with your contractor to ensure they have the right tools and knowledge to achieve your vision.

Being a thin material, overlays are more susceptible to standard wear and tear than traditional concrete and may experience some cracking over time. However, this can be minimized by proper preparation and the use of an anti-fracture membrane when applicable.

The carved concrete trend is growing, especially as a way to increase the curb appeal of homes. But just as you wouldn’t leave your expensive smartphone without a case or your new car unprotected from damage, you should consider protecting the investment in your carved concrete with a high-quality sealer. A well-chosen and properly applied sealer can help prevent the typical wear, spalling and cracking that occur in outdoor concrete.

The best concrete sealers are water repellents that penetrate into the concrete surface and chemically fuse just below the surface. This process forms a durable barrier that helps the concrete resist environmental elements like moisture and UV damage. The sealer also fills in and heals small imperfections that would otherwise cause future damage to the surface.

When selecting a concrete sealer, look for a product that does not contain acrylic resins. This is an important step for ensuring the concrete is long-lasting and durable.

There are several types of concrete sealers, including penetrating, tinted and masonry. You may choose to apply the sealer yourself, but it is recommended that you work with a professional for optimal results. A professional can advise on the best sealer for your concrete type and climate, help you select a proper application technique and ensure that the concrete is properly prepped before sealing.

To prepare the concrete for a sealer, the surface must be free of any oil, grease or dirt. This can be accomplished by scrubbing and possibly lightly sanding the surface. Any mechanical abrasion methods or blast cleaning should be used sparingly and with care, since they could cause damage to the surface that may require repairs.

Before applying the sealer, read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Some sealers need to be diluted or need to sit for an extended period of time before they are ready for use. A professional can advise on these and other factors that will impact your project timeline. For instance, if your concrete needs to be diluted before being poured or troweled, that can add weeks to your project.