A release agent is a material that prevents adhesion between the surfaces that need to be separated. Engineers and Architects often use it to ensure no sticking as they assemble a building or piece of furniture.
In addition, release agents allow for smoother, easier stamping of inks onto stamps, and they are essential when using colored inks.
To answer the question of whether it is mandatory to use a release agent for stamped concrete, very few things are mandatory in life, but to do a quality job with stamped concrete it is crucial to use a release agent, either liquid or powder.
What does a concrete release agent do?
Concrete release agents are often called concrete release or anti-skid agents. They provide a surface that’s easier to clean off and remove, making your concrete surface resistant to many stains and easier to clean in general.
A concrete release agent provides a coating on the surface of the concrete that prevents stains from adhering. In addition, the sticky, greasy soils don’t have an excellent surface to burrow into, so they can be wiped easily from the concrete.
How do you use it?
Concrete release agents come in a powder form that can be mixed with water in a bucket to create a paste. These powders are typically either petroleum-based or bio-based.
The petroleum-based ones are usually more commonly used. A concrete release agent can be applied to the surface of any concrete before stamping; however, it’s recommended that they be applied to surfaces with two coats if they have to handle heavy traffic or have oily stains from fingerprints.
What happens if a release agent is not used with stamped concrete?
The following can happen if you don’t use a release agent with stamped concrete:
1. The stamps will stick to the fresh concrete
This is the main reason, the stamping seals will stick to the fresh concrete if a release agent is not used, this means that when they are removed, layers of concrete will peel off and the job will not look good.
2. The concrete’s surface becomes dirty and difficult to clean.
If your concrete is stamped with colored inks, you may notice that these stains are harder to remove as they’ve burrowed into the concrete rather than just being on top.
If you don’t apply a coating of concrete release agent to your stamped concrete, the dirt won’t easily be wiped from the surface, so you may find yourself scrubbing and using commercial cleaners to remove dirt and greasy stains. This makes them much more complex and time-consuming to remove.
3. The concrete color doesn’t last as long.
Colors fade faster when a concrete release agent does not protect them. This is especially important when you design custom floors for the longest-lasting color possible, use the same colors consistently, or pay for pure color with the highest pigment concentration.
4. The surface of your concrete begins to look dull and darkens over time
Stains on a concrete surface are difficult to remove and cause added stress on your floor. This can weaken the surface of your floor, causing it to wear down quicker and look duller.
In addition to this, it is much easier to add a colored tint to the release agent, and even easier if it is liquid.
When to wash release off stamped concrete?
In most cases, it’s not recommended that you wash off a concrete release agent after applying it to your concrete. Instead, most professionals will advise that you apply a second coat of the agent over top of your stamped concrete when it has had a chance to cure and dry completely.
You should allow the concrete to dry for at least one day but no more than three days after applying it before cleaning it.
How to remove the release agent from stamped concrete?
There are several ways to remove concrete release agents from stamped concrete, but soap and water are the most common. Mixing dish soap and water with a scrub brush is the most efficient way to remove all the release agents from your concrete.
If soap and water aren’t available, you can use a pressure washer. You must be careful when using this method, as certain pressure washers can actually cause damage to concrete surfaces and crush them or break them apart in places.
A concrete cleaner and commercial floor scrubbers can also be used to remove the agent.
Types of stamped concrete release agents
The following are some common types of release agents you can use with stamped concrete:
1. Powder release agents
Powder release agents are the most common agent and can be mixed with water and applied to surfaces with a wetted rag or your favorite pressure washer.
2. Liquid release agents
Liquid release agents are also often used with stamped concrete. These are liquid, which means they can be applied to surfaces with a wetted rag or a spray bottle. The water can be added to the spray bottle before washing it out after application on surfaces.
3. Antiquing agents
These release agents can be used post-stamping and applied to surfaces with a wetted rag. These products are meant to add depth and variation to the surface of the concrete, so they are often used alongside cured colored inks.
Where to Buy Concrete Release Agents?
You can find many concrete release agents at your local hardware store or building supply store. These agents are typically found in the paint department, although some may be sold in Mason jars or bulk containers.
You can also buy concrete release agents online at sites such as Amazon.com, Home Depot, and Lowe’s. You can also order them directly from the manufacturers of these products by visiting their websites and selecting their labeled products on the list of offerings to buy.
Is there any homemade release agent for stamped concrete?
Yes. If you want to add some homemade flavor and variation to your concrete floor, you can mix up a batch of your release agent; while some people mix up a batch of release agents, others prefer to buy it instead and then mix their version at home.
Some common homemade agents include:
- Vegetable oil-based release agents
You can make your oil-based release agent by mixing a batch of vegetable oil and water. Mix about a half cup of vegetable oil with just enough water to create a paste-like consistency.
- Bio-based release agents
You can make a homemade bio-based release agent by mixing 1 part vinegar with six parts water to create a mixture that you can use as an additive to stamping concrete.
- WD 40 -based release agents
You can make your release agent by mixing up a batch of WD 40 with water. This is best done if you don’t mind the smell and are okay storing the mixture for extended periods as it can collect solid particles on surfaces.
Can wd40 be used as a concrete release agent for stamped concrete?
WD 40 is a potent and effective lubricant used as a release agent. It’s commonly used in industrial metalworking applications as it’s an effective penetrating oil that loosens and helps break down adhesives and paint, etc.
Can you use vegetable oil as a concrete release for stamped concrete?
Yes, you can use vegetable oil as a concrete release agent. This can be useful if you’re using the concrete release agent to enhance the appearance of your stamped concrete floor.
However, if you use vegetable oil as a release agent, ensure it’s used in large amounts to prevent adhesives and paint from sticking to your stamped concrete floor.
Stamped concrete is a good type of flooring because it’s durable and customizable. When you use the right release agents and care for your stamped concrete, you can have one of the most beautiful floors in your home.
The only downside is that it requires a little more time and effort to get your stamped concrete looking just how you want it, but with the right tools and care, your floors will look great over time.