Although the technology has been around for years, radial stamp work still turns some heads when used as focal points in decorative concrete projects. And the good news is the well-rounded designs don’t have to break the budget.
"Newer tools on the market today can offer customers different options at affordable prices," said Keith Boudart, sales manager for Butterfield Color, a company in Aurora, Ill., that introduced its first radial stamp in 2010.
The beauty of radial stamps, said Kris Kaitanjian, senior vice president of Ontario, Calif.-based Matcrete which has been manufacturing the tools since 1984, is, "They replicate a very time-consuming job. They produce a rich appearance that looks as if each cobblestone was hand cut and fit for that one job."
Radial stamps consist of a series of curved urethane pieces that fit snugly together to form circles, half circles or decorative round borders to complement everything from a broom-finished driveway highlighted with color hardener to an integrally colored and stamped hotel entrance. Most stamp sets feature a central circle between 4 and 5 feet in diameter that can stand alone, be finished with a border or made larger with additional tools. Some stamps also can be used to form other shapes and serpentine designs.
Here’s a look at five companies that manufacture radial stamps:Proline Concrete Tools Inc.
Last year, Proline Concrete Tools Inc. of Oceanside, Calif., introduced the European Cobble Series, a revolutionary new design in radial stamps.
With a series of five different stamping tools, contractors can make circles from 5 feet in diameter out to infinity without having to purchase additional tools for larger circles. The stamps also can be used to create a running bond cobble, a serpentine cobble, a mixed cobble or a band depending on how they are configured.
Tyler Irwin, Proline’s national sales manager, said there’s nothing else like it on the market. A set of 12 is all you need for any size job. The tools can be used on new concrete and overlays.Butterfield Color
Also jumping on the radial stamp wagon last year, Butterfield Color introduced Mayan Cobblestone Circle, a series of three different tools that can create circles from 5 to 15 feet across. They also can be configured to form a variety of medallions and circular borders on overlays or fresh concrete.
For the greatest versatility, Boudart said he recommends a set of 12 tools, four of each kind. "You always want a stamp to butt up against at least one other stamp, otherwise you’ll get irregular grout joints and will run off the pattern," he said.Solomon Brickform
After years of making radial stamps as Brickform, Solomon Brickform in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., retooled its offerings and debuted its new cobblestone radial stamps in 2010 that resembles the company’s London Cobble. Besides full circles from 5 to 24 feet in diameter, the five new stamps can produce half- and quarter-round shapes on fresh concrete. The company recommends a set of four of each tool, for a total of 20.
Unlike other companies, Solomon Brickform doesn’t make a border to complement the new series.
It does, however, make fractured-face and cantilevered step liners for raised slabs. With these two liners, contractors can ring their circles with a hard-troweled shiner or a textured-skin stone.Matcrete
Last July, Matcrete introduced a new tool to its Slate Cobblestone series, a 52-inch-wide compass point designed to be a centerpiece. Two stamps are necessary to create the design.
Its basic set, which features a 52-inch cobblestone center, can be used to extend a circle out to 9, 14 or 19 feet. The four tools also can be used for half circles and rings on fresh concrete and stampable overlays. Kaitanjian recommends a minimum of four stamps per tier, for a total of 16. "If you only have two of each, you’re going to be playing leap frog," he said.
A decorative border of brick soldier course is available to finish off the edges.Specialty Concrete Products
In 2002, Specialty Concrete Products in West Columbia, S.C., acquired StampMaster and has carried its radial stamps since. Its selection of Cobble Circle/Course, Slate Radius and Fresh Brick Soldier Course and Fresh Brick Radius can be used to make circles ranging from 52 inches to 14 feet in diameter on fresh concrete and overlays.
The number of tools needed to make a set varies depending on the design. Some feature three different tools while others have five.
Specialty Concrete Products is one of the few manufacturers that offers custom stamps for projects requiring a specially sized circle. "While it’s expensive and time-consuming on our end, it can be done," said Robert Cranford, marketing manager.
Stacey Enesey Klemenc is a free-lance writer and editor in Virginia Beach, Va. She has worked with the residential building industry in various capacities for more than 20 years and has been a regular contributor to Concrete Décor since its inception.