What is this grasshopper looking at?
A friend told me one should never remove a concrete patio's patina. Well, one man's patina is another man's twenty years accumulation of dirt and mildew, and Lou determined that our old concrete parking court, patio and walkway needed a good power washing. The walkway and steps which lead to the garden are of stamped concrete in a flagstone pattern, originally stained by professionals to resemble the real thing. The same stamped concrete feature also trims both the parking court and the patio. At first I wanted genuine stones. The stamped concrete was a compromise made for budget and practicality, and it functioned well and looked nice.
Over the years our concrete had developed a lot of 'patina'. A good power wash removed all that dirt in no time, but to our dismay we realized the original coloring of our stamped concrete was almost gone, with many areas stripped bare.
No problem. We would simply cover it with a good concrete stain. It seemed too daunting a task to duplicate the original colorings, but we thought a solid color would be OK. It wouldn't look like stone, but the pattern would still be attractive.
We tested a small area. It looked awful.
We tried a different color, and it still looked terrible. A dreadful realization was coming to me. The only way this would look good again would be to restore the stone colorings. Which meant I would have to painstakingly hand stain: Every. Single. Individual. Stone. Hundreds of them. And because I am the one who enjoys decorative painting, and Lou doesn't have the artistic inclination, I knew I would have to do this myself. Our power washing had escalated into a major project.
The best way to handle such an undertaking is to just do it. For several days I spent every spare moment sitting on hard concrete under a blazing sun. The 70+ sunscreen I wore made me feel like a pig, basted and roasting in its own juices. (Fortunately, the sunscreen worked, and I have only a rosy glow to show.) But in the end, the work wasn't that difficult and went faster than I had anticipated.
We used a solvent based solid concrete stain made by Sherwin Williams. This product is recommended for drives and was necessary since cars park over part of the area. I chose four colors that look good with the natural stone on the front of the house: Oak Creek, Bittersweet Stem, Cedarwood Brown, and Sandstone. I rubbed, brushed, pounded, and dragged the colors onto the concrete, blending them for a natural stone appearance. Lou came behind me, staining the grout lines with Autumn Brown.
I have finally finished with the stonework, and here is the result:
The grasshopper in the first photo seems to be checking out my faux painting. Maybe he is wondering where all the patina has gone! We still have a few details to finish; then soon we will move the patio furniture back in place. I am looking forward to some relaxation, and I promise no more big projects till cooler weather returns!
6/24/12 addendum: Well, I am no entomologist! Thanks to Toni of Signature Gardens who has pointed out that my 'grasshopper' is in fact a katydid! I have heard these things by the thousands. One would think I would regognize one when I saw it!