Stained Concrete Patio Slabs – Cheap Patio “Stone” without the Cost

Have you ever wanted to have a patio made from natural stone, but can only afford concrete patio slabs?  The expense and difficulty in purchasing and moving large stone slabs can be prohibitive, even with relatively cheap patio stone. With a little bit of creativity and research though, there is an easy way to get the same look and feel from custom finished concrete patios. 

Not only is it inexpensive, but can be a fun and rewarding project for you and your family.  Imagine the satisfaction of hearing friends and neighbors ooh and awe at the beautiful “natural stone” patio, knowing that it’s actually a product of your own hands.  There’s no better way to put your handprints into the concrete without distracting from the look you are going for.

It may seem like a difficult task to stain concrete, or something that’s best left to professionals, but there are a few simple steps anyone can take to get amazing results. It’s not hard to even get a better result than stamped concrete, as you can avoid repetitive patterns that distract the eye and creates an entirely unnatural look.

The first step to creating beautiful, cheap patio “stone” is to research the type of rock you want to replicate.  Pictures on the internet can give a good idea as to the general color scheme, but texture is best judged with a hands-on inspection.  For this reason, locally available stone is generally easier to replicate, and more likely to “fit in” with the rest of the landscape in any case.  With a little foot-work, just about any stone look is doable.

Colorful Concrete Slabs for Your Patio

There are concrete dyes available at the local hardware store that will let you control the color of the concrete, and just a little bit goes a long way.  Mixing in the base tone with the concrete is a good idea, so that even over the years scratches and chips on the surface won’t reveal your secret.  Pour the concrete as you normally would, only in the finishing phase, use your trowel to create any surface variations that will give the concrete the proper texture for the stone you wish to mimic.

If you are unsure of your skill with the trowel, or trying out a new stone type, try a few small stepping stones first to get a feel for the cement and how to get the look you are shooting for.  These stepping stones can be great accessories for your lawn, as they will match your concrete patio slabs.  Mistakes won’t be as noticeable, and are easily moved somewhere “out of the way” if necessary.

Adding in the Texture to your Cheap Patio Stone

Concrete Patio Slabs can be Beautiful Too!

CC Photo from SupremeCrete

Each type of stone will have it’s own unique characteristics.  For instance, to get a weathered sandstone look for your patio, you want a very slightly rolling, grainy finish with occasional “layered” scarring.  This is accomplished by first giving a rough flat finish to the concrete.  There’s no need to make it glassy smooth, quite the opposite.

A wooden or aluminum float is good to use here.  Then, using a masonry trowel, rough in the layering effect with a herky-jerky motion.  Remember that sandstone is a sedimentary rock, and so the variations in texture should be roughly parallel to each other.  Also remember that this is nature, and nature rarely gives straight lines.

If the marks you leave in the concrete are too deep or edges too bold, don’t worry.  Gently go over the edges with the wooden or aluminum float again, and let the natural properties of the concrete “heal” the wounds in the surface.  With just a light touch, the concrete will start to flow, removing the harsh edges left by the trowel.  You’ll notice that in doing this, the spaces between the marks will naturally develop a very slight variation in height, which is exactly how it should be.

Adding the Finishing Touch

Once the concrete is set, you can apply the final touches by sprinkling some more of the dry dye powder on, and then gently rubbing it in with a cloth or sponge.  For sandstone, over a base color of red or brown-yellow, you would then apply darker colors in horizontal bands.  Use many different ratios of dyes while you work.  Having the darkest colors in the deepest of the textures is a good way to create a more natural look for sandstone.

Again, remember that nature doesn’t do straight lines, it’s better to be a bit too lazy in choosing where to apply color than too exact, as it’s that exactness that would lead to an unnatural look. After a few practice runs on stepping stones, you’ll be ready to turn your concrete patio slabs into a natural work of art!

Comments are closed.