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Concrete Stencils
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Intriguing decorative effects are possible by using stencils with sandblasting and gelled-acid etching. View all 68 concrete floor design videos

Stenciling isn't a complicated process, but some general rules of thumb should be followed to achieve the best appearance. These tips will help to prevent cosmetic flaws that will be hard to correct once the job is done:

  • For rectangular slabs, it's very important to square the forms so the corners are true 90-degree angles. Failure to do so will create problems when applying the stencil, because the "bricks" located at the slab's edge will get progressively larger or smaller.
  • Don't embed the stencil too deeply with the roller, because this can cause excessive chipping of the edges during stencil removal. The stencil should only be plastered to the surface rather than buried under the concrete.

  • The left side "mortar joint" on each new strip of stencil should be placed right over, rather than next to, the right side joint of the previous piece to create a single joint between stencils and to avoid misalignment. Some patterns, such as those with an irregular edge, are more challenging to align than others. Long spans of stencil can also be difficult to align.

Poorly aligned (left) vs. properly aligned stencil joint.

ArtistiCrete LLC in Noblesville, IN
ArtistiCrete LLC in Noblesville, IN
ArtistiCrete LLC in Noblesville, IN
  • Forms weren't squared, so outside bricks are smaller along the edge of the soldier course.
  • Never leave stencils on a slab overnight. Doing so will almost guarantee the need to pick it out in maddeningly small pieces, aided by a chisel, screwdriver or other scraping device.

  • When the stencil is first removed, chips of color hardener that had lain atop the stencil will fall onto the slab. They should not be swept off until the following day. Waiting a day allows the concrete to set sufficiently so the broom won't mar the surface.

Contractors have differing opinions about the best time to remove stencils. Some installers prefer to wait a couple of hours after finishing the concrete before pulling up the stencil strips because this will yield cleaner pattern edges. However, it will also result in a very slick, smooth mortar joint that some customers find fake-looking. Immediate stencil removal results in more realistic chipped edges and a sandier-looking joint.

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