City of St. Albans, W.V. water treatment plant. Concrete Artforms

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Contrary to what a layman might think, placing a perfectly smooth plain-gray concrete wall is very difficult. Thank God, then, that most people prefer concrete with texture and color, where minor imperfections either disappear or are perceived as bestowing character to the concrete.

For horizontal work, we typically bestow that character by imprinting the fresh concrete with stamps. But with formed vertical concrete surfaces, stamping the fresh concrete is impossible while it's in the forms. Rather than hoping we can miraculously strip the forms while the concrete is still soft enough to stamp, form liners attached to the inside face of the form can impart an incredible variety of patterned surfaces.

Form liners have been used for many years to create what ACI calls architectural concrete—defined as "concrete that will be permanently exposed to view and therefore requires special care in selection of the concrete materials, forming, placing, and finishing to obtain the desired architectural appearance." Sounds like a definition for decorative concrete, doesn't it? The standard architectural form liners for many years were textured plastic or fiberglass sheets fastened to the form facing to create ribbed patterns on the concrete. New materials and techniques, though, are allowing us to create form liners that impart more intricate patterns on the concrete surface—realistic rock patterns, detailed graphics, even photographs.

Form Liner Information
How to Use Form Liners Tips for liner attachment and concrete placement
Stepping It Up with Concrete Form Liners Learn how to take the look of your stairways to a new level using textured step liners
Types of Form Liners Urethane rubber, plastic, and polystyrene
Concrete Molds A guide to buying or making your own formwork for concrete countertops, sinks, furniture, patios and walkways