If you are having a deck put in, one of the most important decisions has to do with the surface. Stamped overlays and textured coatings are two different methods for achieving a variety of textures. With stamped overlays, you have the choice of texturing in flagstone, slate or granite, with an infinite variety of patterns and colors.
Here's how the process works. Your deck floor begins with no seams and one continuous texture stamped in. You can select a pattern with grouting, such as random stone, ashlars, brick borders, river rock, tile, brick, or cobblestone. Once you choose your pattern, the installers draw out the pattern and add the grout lines in a set width, and then they cut the grout lines. After the lines are set, then the coloring begins. The installer layers the colors by hand, and as you watch him at work, you can adjust the darkness or lightness of each new layer. The result is extremely custom; the layers build depth and add to the verisimilitude of the appearance of the stone. After the coloring is finished, then it's time for a couple coasts of a sealer that resists abrasion, along with a non-skid finish. The result is a surface that is simple to clean, yet tough at the same time.
The textured coating approach is slightly different. The exact process varies with the manufacturer of the specific product, but the process is more of a do-it-yourself method than bringing in professionals to handle stamped overlays. Generally, the textured coating process involves starting with a textured primer. When you put this down, the roller you use will determine the look of the texture. A standard, smooth roller gives a small amount of texture, but manufacturers also offer "tile" and "stone" rollers that simulate the look of those two surfaces. Follow this layer up with the epoxy. This is the source of the color, and it will give the deck the realistic look of stone. Simply choose the stone color, and apply it on top of the primer. Finish with a coat of the sealer. If you want a grouted pattern, there are a variety of tapes that you put down after you apply the primer and then pull up after the epoxy has finished drying. Pulling the tape gives the look of lines, resembling the effect of grout.
Stamped overlays offer more options for customization and a richer variety of colors and finishes, but both methods can offer the same permanent finish, and textured coatings can be less expensive. Consider these differences as you decide which way to surface your new deck.