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Concrete Engraving Tools

There are many decorative treatments for freshly placed concrete, including pattern stamping, exposed aggregate, and textured finishes. But what about an existing plain-gray concrete driveway, sidewalk, or patio that's in sore need of decorative flair? How do you give it a dramatic and lasting makeover, short of ripping it out and starting over?

WHAT IS CONCRETE ENGRAVING?

Concrete engraving, or concrete etching, is the use of special tools and equipment to make patterns and designs in existing concrete. Unlike toppings or overlays, engraving is a permanent treatment that won't wear away or lose bond because the patterns are carved into the concrete rather than applied on top of it. When the concrete is further enhanced by staining, the decorative possibilities are truly spectacular.

Concrete engraving in a nutshell is staining the concrete to give it color, then engraving (routing) out a pattern. The routed area is now uncolored—thus it looks like a grout line.

Concrete engraving samples

Here are a few examples of engraved concrete projects. Because there are so many designs available, we recommend that you browse engraved concrete contractors' websites to view their work (find contractors specializing in concrete engraving near me). You can get a lot of ideas in their photo galleries.

Thomas and Sons Custom Concrete Engraving in Anaheim, CA Imagine It Designs in Brenham, TX
Concrete Illusions Inc in Kankakee, IL Engrave-A-Crete in Bradenton, FL
Engrave-A-Crete in Bradenton, FL Concrete Restoration & Engraving in Columbia, SC


Where can engraving be used?

Both interior and exterior concrete can be engraved. Outdoors engraving can be used to transform a driveway, walkway, pool deck, patio or even a parking lot. Indoors engraving can be used to create unique patterns and designs for restaurants, stores or residential entryways.

New or old concrete can be engraved. Professionals who use a patented engraving machine do the concrete engraving work. New concrete is engraved after allowing the concrete to cure for 3-4 weeks. Then simply clean the surface and start the procedure. For old concrete, a thorough cleaning is necessary. According to Roger Misfud of Brickburner, any dirt, grease, paint, sealer or curing agent will prevent the stain from penetrating and reacting. The flaws in old concrete can actually contribute to the look of engraved concrete with many patterns.

Concrete Engraving Videos

Mongoose Concrete Saws & Blades Video
Time: 05:12
Tips on cutting intricate designs in concrete.

Concrete Engraving
Time: 01:03
Learn about how concrete is engraved.

HOW MUCH DOES CONCRETE ENGRAVING COST?

The average cost for concrete engraving runs in the $3 - $6 per square foot range.

Very large jobs can be less, while small jobs can run considerably more. Complicated patterns can contribute significantly to higher costs.

The best solution is to contact an engraver in you area and get a quote for the pattern you would like.


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Cobra Concrete Engraving Demonstration Video
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HOW TO ENGRAVE CONCRETE

The engraving process involves the following:

  • The concrete is cleaned, and acid etched if needed to provide a bond for the stain to the concrete.
  • Cracks, if any, are repaired. (Though sometimes cracks are left in the concrete, which produces and aged brick or stone look)
  • The concrete is stained. Click here for more information on concrete stains
  • The concrete is engraved
  • The job is cleaned up, a sealer is applied.

The job can take one or two days, up to a week. This depends on:

  • The size of the area to be engraved
  • The amount of cleaning required
  • Any crack repairs to be made
  • How heavy an application of stain is to be made (more than one coat?)
  • The weather
  • Operator skill

Adding color before engraving

Concrete is stained with a color before the engraving process is done.

Chemical stains penetrate the concrete surface to create beautiful color tones in existing concrete. Stains react directly with the concretes minerals and produce uneven, mottled, and variegated color effects.

To learn more about staining, visit the decorative concrete staining section.

Stained surfaces are striking in appearance and add an artistic approach to flooring. The stain creates uneven, variegated and translucent color effects according to Roger Misfud at Brickburner in San Diego.

Many unique design effects are possible. To achieve special color effects, two or more stain colors may be intermixed before application or applied one over the other while wet.

Dramatically patterned hardscapes can be created by chemically staining adjacent sections in contrasting colors. Color variegations in alternate sections can be intensified or subdued by using a combination of colored sealers and waxes over a stained surface.

Each concrete engraver will offer their own colors, so check with the engraver on color availability.

Does concrete engraving add to the thickness of the concrete?

There is no thickness added when concrete is engraved. Concrete stains permeate the surface of the concrete and do not add to its thickness. The engraving routes down into the concrete surface and does not add any thickness to the concrete.

CONCRETE ENGRAVING TOOLS

A concrete engraver is a machine that allows you to engrave existing concrete surfaces with just about anything. Some of these machines are handheld, others are walk behind and some are even controlled by a CNC for creating precise graphics.

In the decorative concrete industry, Engrave-A-Crete is the main source for engraving equipment, they offer many different options.

How do Engrave-A-Crete and KaleidoCrete differ?

Barracuda & Shark Engraving Tools Video
Time: 04:31
How to properly use the Barracuda and Shark air driven tools to engrave grahics into concrete.

The Engrave-A-Crete and KaleidoCrete systems can be used alone or in combination. Many contractors use both systems to broaden their design repertoire.

Here are the key differences:

If you want to cut standard brick, cobblestone, or tile patterns in concrete surfaces and cover a fairly large area, go with the Engrave-A-Crete system. It uses a walk-behind engraving machine guided by a tracking system to quickly and accurately cut repetitive patterns.

To cut more intricate or one-of-a-kind designs into concrete, use the KaleidoCrete system. Its hand-held engraving tools are guided by templates, which are available in thousands of patterns and designs, including letters, logos, borders, and custom graphics. The tools can also be used freehand.

The Engrave-A-Crete system cut the tile pattern in this entryway, while the KaleidoCrete system produced the focal-point letter, using a template as a guide.

Visit the Engrave-A-Crete website

ENGRAVED CONCRETE MAINTENANCE

Engrave-a-Crete, Bradenton, FL.

Any brick, tile or cobblestones patterns you have engraved in your concrete will stay for the life of the concrete surface. It is not like an actual brick that may break. It has been engraved into the concrete, it is part of the concrete itself.

Routine Maintenance

Concrete engraving uses special tools and equipment to cut brick, tile or cobblestone patterns into hardened concrete. Unlike toppings or overlays, engraving is permanent and won't wear away or lose bond. The cut patterns will remain for the life of the surface. Little routine maintenance is required, other than occasional cleaning (see procedures for plain concrete).

Special Care Requirements

Often engraved surfaces are stained to add color. Follow the same periodic sealing recommendations given for stained concrete to enhance the color and protect the surface from deicing chemicals and oil and grease stains.

The color change over time with concrete stains is hard to predict and it is not a perfect science (many times a color actually becomes darker). This is not meant to be a negative, instead it is much like worn brick or other paving materials, they age. Often this creates an even more appreciated look.

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