Stamped concrete in detectable warning applications

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Q: Do stamped concrete detectable warning surfaces meet ADA standards?

A: Rarely.

From my experience, the process doesn't produce the level of quality specified in Public Rights of Way Accessibility Guidelines (PROWAG) developed by the U.S. Access Board - the federal agency that developed ADA Accessibility Guidelines, which serve as a baseline for the standards used to enforce the ADA and Architectural Barriers Act. Other factors to consider:


Image: United States Access Board

  • All domes must achieve the specified dimensions of the ADA guidelines: a base diameter of 0.9 to 1.4 inches (23 to 36 mm), a top diameter of 50% of the base diameter minimum to 65% of the maximum, and a height of 0.2 inch (5 mm).
  • Stamping weakens domes. The material that ends up in the dome areas of the form is the most fragile part of the pour; the thin liquid without the aggregate mix pushes up into the small stamp mold area, creating an irregular dome.
  • Weaker domes are less resistant to wear and tear from wheelchairs, strollers, and delivery carts. They chip and break down, requiring more maintenance.
  • I strongly suggest you check out Detectable Warnings: Synthesis of U.S. and International Practice at the U.S. Access Board's Web site This free, downloadable research publication provides a thorough study of the many different detectable warning surface processes used, and includes user comments about the viability of processes and products.

    According to chapter 7, page 121, second paragraph, "A high-quality surface can only be obtained with a skillful installer. Quality control is necessary to prevent premature dome wear."

    And as stated in the case studies section (chapter 5, page 78, second paragraph): "A number of negative reports involved the process of stamping the truncated dome surface in concrete, with very few successful experiences. Stamping the dome texture on sloping concrete and getting an acceptable consistency of surface, dome height, and concrete hardness seemed to be an extremely difficult process, requiring expert contractors. One public works official in Minnesota stated that the dome surface had worn better than he expected, but he would not install it again as stamped concrete because the process was too difficult."

    At this point, I leave it up to you.


    Comments (1 Total)

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    About the Blogger

    Michele Ohmes

    thumbnail image Michele S. Ohmes is an Americans with Disabilities Act specialist and wheelchair user who works with public works departments, facility managers, and contractors. Her design manual — ADA and Accessibility: Let's Get Practical — is available on CD-ROM through the American Public Works Association's Web site. Author's note: Michele & Associates does not render legal advice and has no enforcement authority regarding the ADA or other federal disability-rights legislation.