Exposed Aggregate Finishes Explained

Unlike most decorative concrete finishes, exposed aggregate finishes combine beauty and utility. The surface can handle heavy foot and vehicle traffic as well as freeze-thaw climates. Appearance can vary significantly depending on the aggregate used, colour and exposure level. Light exposures expose sand and small aggregate for a sleek, modern look or larger aggregate for a classic exposed aggregate finish.

Textured Concrete

This popular concrete finish involves removing the top layer of freshly poured concrete to expose coarse decorative aggregates. It creates a hard-wearing, durable surface with good slip resistance that suits outdoor environments and is resistant to erosion.

The concrete can be coloured with oxides during the mixing stage to complement your home or property style and achieve a desired aesthetic. It is low maintenance and resistant to stains when properly sealed. It can be used for a variety of applications such as driveways, patios and pool decks.

Like standard concrete, textured concrete is strong and long-lasting, but can be vulnerable to harsh weather conditions if not properly maintained or damaged. It is also more labour intensive to install than other decorative finishes, and requires expert installation.

Exposed aggregate is a decorative, textured concrete surface that is one-of-a-kind. Its unique visual appeal is a result of the vast range of stones and pebbles that can be added to the mix. It is visually appealing, easy to maintain, and can boost the resale value of your home, especially when done by professional concrete contractors Melbourne. However, it is not suited for high-traffic areas and can be uncomfortable to walk on with bare feet because of its variable texture. It is also more susceptible to heat damage than other finishes, especially if left exposed to the sun. Regular inspections are important to identify problems and repair them quickly.

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Honed Concrete

Honed concrete is a popular choice for home flooring and swimming pool surrounds. This style of concrete finish has a matte surface and is sealed with a penetrating sealer to protect the concrete and prevent staining. Honed concrete is less expensive than mechanically polished concrete and can have varying degrees of aggregate exposure depending on your preferred look.

To achieve this type of finish, contractors grind the surface of the concrete to expose a certain amount of aggregate. This can be anywhere from a full aggregate exposure for a beautiful aesthetic to nil exposure for a more subtle design. Once the grinding is complete, a topical sealer is applied to the concrete to create a smooth and protective layer that resists dirt, oils and other contaminants.

Like other types of exposed aggregate finishes, honed concrete provides excellent traction and can be treated with an anti-slip product to improve slip resistance in high traffic areas. However, the textured surface of honed concrete can trap dirt and debris more easily than smooth surfaces, meaning it requires regular cleaning to keep its appearance.

Before choosing between honed and exposed aggregate concrete, consider the functionality of your space. If you need an efficient financial option or a durable material that reflects light, honed concrete is a good choice. However, if you require a more rustic and natural look or are concerned about slip resistance in a high traffic area, exposed aggregate may be the better choice for your project.

Coloured Concrete

Unlike a plain concrete finish, which is smoothed out for the classic grey finish most homeowners are familiar with, exposed aggregate finishes feature coarse decorative gravel that adds visual interest and texture to your home. This type of finish is popular for a wide range of applications, including patios, driveways and walkways. Exposed aggregate also provides good traction, making it suitable for areas that are likely to get wet or slippery.

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Coloured concrete is made by adding pigments directly into the mix as it’s being poured. This offers a huge variety of colour options, as well as a more natural look that blends in with the surrounding environment. The colour is also embedded in the concrete, meaning it won’t fade as quickly as some other concrete finishes.

This type of coloured concrete is more expensive than plain concrete, but it offers better value in terms of durability and longevity. It is also easy to maintain, requiring only periodic cleaning and resealing. However, it is more difficult to repair if chips or damage occur. It is also not as slip-resistant as a textured surface, so it may not be ideal for outdoor surfaces. Ultimately, choosing between coloured and plain concrete comes down to personal preference and the level of customization you desire.

Concrete Repairs

Concrete repairs that involve exposing aggregate are a bit more tricky, and should only be done by a professional concrete contractor with the expertise to achieve an excellent result. A typical exposed aggregate finish consists of brushing away the cement mortar from a freshly poured concrete surface, revealing decorative coarse aggregate (batched into the concrete mix or seeded on top). This style of finish is ideal for garden paths and patios as it’s relatively cheap to install and easy for keen DIYers to do themselves.

For a more controlled exposure, a ‘topping aggregate’ finish is used, where an additional layer of aggregate is poured on top of the concrete once it has cured. This gives more control over the placement and mixture of aggregates, but is still a labour-intensive process.

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The colour of an exposed aggregate concrete surface is largely down to the stone selection, with many natural stones offering a variety of colours from delicate pastel shades to rich earthy tones. You can also create a more decorative finish with stenciling. Brickform’s reusable Concrete Dimensions urethane stencils are perfect for creating patterns on an exposed aggregate surface.

Like any concrete surface, a finished exposed aggregate surface requires regular sealing to protect it from the elements and extend its lifespan. For the best results, we recommend using a high-quality concrete sealer such as Stealth-Seal WB from Brickform or Gem-Guard SB to protect and enhance your surface.