Preventing cracks is as easy as installing it properly and applying a sealant as a maintenance measure. About stamped concrete fading, you can keep waiting for it, but it may be a long time before you notice it. Like cracks, discoloration occurs naturally, but will only be noticed after a long time. If you lay pavers on a 4-inch thick concrete base, you don't have to worry about weeds, insects, or anything growing through it.
You don't have to worry about the pavers shifting, and you don't have to worry about concrete cracking because the pavers are on top. Here in the Midwest, where we have freezes and thaws, it's the best way to install cobblestones so that your yard area lasts 30+ years without any problems. Stamped concrete won't last forever. Eventually, it will start to crack and break like any other type of concrete.
However, stamped concrete is actually very resistant to cracking, and when steps are taken to care for it, it must endure a long time before it needs to be replaced. You won't have to worry about it breaking down too soon, as long as you have it installed the right way. If things have reached a point where there is a large buildup of sealant from applying too much. Or if the wrong type of sealant was used, simply cleaning and re-sealing it will aggravate the problem.
The only way to fix this permanently is to remove all of the old sealant and start over. The best way we have found to achieve this is by sandblasting. This does a great job of removing existing sealant in a fairly short period of time without damaging the texture. However, sandblasting will remove most or all of the antiques and will need to be reapplied prior to sealing.
The other benefit of sandblasting is that it opens the pores of the concrete surface sufficiently to allow the new sealant layer to bond even better. A major problem is that stamped concrete cracks and chips, especially in harsher climates that experience frost. Here in New England, our winters can be especially harsh on concrete surfaces. Not only is it aesthetically unattractive, but it can also become a safety issue with trip hazards.
The image on the right shows the damage to stamped concrete caused by road salt that cars bring to the driveway of cars. There's nothing above it, and there's no way to fix a cracked patterned concrete patio where you can't see the crack due to the pattern it's stamped on. Because of this risk, some professionals who use an early entry method to control cracks in stamped concrete wait one day before cutting. For me, I would never put stamped concrete in my house or in any of my friends' or family's houses.
Using curing blankets is the only accepted method I know of for curing stamped concrete in cold climates. There are a lot of differences between stamped concrete and pavers, and most people don't really understand them, so I wanted to explain the top 5 reasons why stamped concrete stinks and why pavers are much better and, in fact, cheaper if you look at the price you pay in a span of more than 5 years. Now retired, Doug Carlton of Wyoming worked in the decorative concrete industry for decades and often shared his ideas and views with Concrete Decor. Another point to keep in mind is that patterned concrete needs to be re-dyed and sealed every 2-3 years, even less time for darker colors.
These stains are barely noticeable on plain gray concrete, but they can be very unpleasant on patterned and colored concrete. Review some of the common problems with stamped concrete and some techniques you can try the next time you face a decorative repair and restoration challenge. In fact, I have seen decorative concrete and concrete coatings that have severe efflorescence but are light in color, so the efflorescence is barely noticeable. Concrete surface profile, color, water-cement ratio and porosity play an important role in the process.
His ability to take a concrete canvas and add patterns and colors separates him from most of the concrete competition. . .