Everything You Need to Know about Exposed Aggregate Concrete
Exposed aggregate is a widely popular concrete application that is perfectly suited to the outdoor areas of your home.
It’s ability to be customised with different types of stones and colours makes it a popular option for any new home build or renovation.
While the versatility of this concrete style allows you to create a design and finish that is unique, complimentary, and will add value to your property.
This type of decorative concrete finish is produced first by creating a mix of coloured and various sized stones that come in a ready-mix concrete or customised to your liking. From here the mix is delivered and poured for your project over a flattened area of sand and gravel. Then a retardant is applied to prevent the top 3 – 5mm of concrete from setting, which allows for concrete contractors to expose the stones. To expose the multi-coloured stones, the top layer of cement is removed through a special process, exposing the natural stones in the concrete.
Quartz, pebbles and sand are the most commonly used, but granite and other natural stones are sometimes added to an application to create a stylish finish.
Introduced during the 1950’s, exposed aggregate became a standout feature for homes worldwide, popular for its timeless look and long life. Popular across driveways and paths, it has jumped back on the home renovators and new home trend lists, with the popularity of mid-century modern style design has rising over the past decade.
Types of Exposed Aggregate finishes
There are plenty of reasons why you should choose this exposed style of concrete for your outdoor application, but the most popular is the limitless design options. By customising a mix of various coloured stones, or choosing a specially designed ready-made mix, you are given the freedom to create a perfect look for your space.
The main difference between the decorative concrete mixes is how the stones are added to the application. There are several different ways that the stones can be dispersed through the product, and the process chosen will give the stones either a more uniform or sporadic look throughout the application.
Types of Exposed Aggregate
Standard Exposed Aggregate
The most common and affordable application, standard concrete aggregate applications are known for giving your area a more natural, organic look.
For a standard exposed style , the stones are mixed into the concrete before it is poured.
This style of exposed application means that you will have less control over where the colours and stones will show once the top layer is removed, but will still deliver a beautiful final product.
For those who are meticulous about how the design of the final application will look, then a seeding aggregate application is a perfect choice for you.
The process for seeding is meticulous and typically takes longer than other applications because the stones are placed into the wet concrete rather than being pre-mixed per the design request.
Seeded aggregate is a great option for those looking to add feature stones or glowing stones into their application. Coloured and various sized stones are hand seeded through the application, adding design and complementing the overall décor of the area.
Glowing stones add a radiant natural light to your outdoor areas and absorb solar energy during the day. Once the sun goes down, the stones illuminate, providing a natural glow and a unique look to your application.
The process for topping aggregate is done by first pouring the cement and letting it dry, then adding a thick layer (around 2.5cm) of pebbles on top.
The stone application is usually laid quite thick, rather than dispersed through the cement. Which makes it a great option for heavily trafficked areas or pool surrounds.
This style of concrete application is popular because it allows for more control during the pouring process, providing you with more consistent look across the application.
However, it is not without fault as it is prone to cracking due to the thinness (concrete needs to be poured at minimum of 80mm), and reinforcement issues. For this reason, it is not an application that Terrastone currently has available and will not recommend for your concrete project.
Types of Finishes
This is a popular choice for people wanting to either have a more sophisticated look for their outdoor spaces or are looking to add a decorative concrete application to a alfresco and pool areas.
The process of honing aggregate is more extensive than an exposed application, as the project will require a concrete grinding and surface professional.
Once the slab is ready, the floor preparation specialist will then grind the top layer of the stones down till it the desired look and smoothness is achieved.
If you choose this application for your alfresco area or pool surrounds, we add an additive to the sealing process to create a non-slip finish, preventing unwanted falls by improving traction.
See more on What is Honed Aggregate.
Benefits of Exposed Aggregate
Still on the fence if exposed aggregate is the right choice for your new home or renovation? Have a look at the many benefits of installing this decorative concrete around your property:
Exposed aggregate is a hard wearing application that can take on the heaviest foot traffic. As a composite material, it is sturdy, weather resistant and designed to last the lifetime of your home if maintained properly. The only other products that are considered equal are stones like marble and slate, which tend to be extremely expensive to install.
There’s very little you need to do to take care of your application to keep it looking fresh and new. Giving it a spray with a pressure washer 1-2 times per year with a cleaning solution is about all you’ll need to keep it looking great.
It is recommended that re-seal your exposed aggregate area every 3-5 years to maintain it’s durability, colour and lustre.
So Many Options
The amazing thing about this type of concrete finish is that no two finished projects look the same. With the limitless stones, colours, sizes and finishes available for you to choose from, you are able to create a concrete design for your homes outdoor areas that will truly be one of a kind.
It Increases The Value Of Your Property
It’s no secret that the addition of decorative concrete not only adds style to your property, it can also help increase the value of it as well. Investing in the exterior and outdoor living spaces of your house, creates more aesthetically pleasing spaces that make your property look more valuable to potential buyers.
You don’t have to worry about slip ups on your floor, as the exposed stones in the concrete act as a skid resistant coating across the application. This makes it perfect for pool surrounds, alfresco areas, driveways, decks and garden terraces.
For commercial properties, exposed aggregate is a great option for carparks and pathways, while also having it honed for use across lobbies, shopping centres, and office halls.
Exposed aggregate is about 80% cheaper than other natural stones like marble and slate. While there are other options that are more affordable, the benefits of having an exposed finish installed for your project over a cheaper material are vast.
The lifetime and timelessness of the application alone, is enough to consider it for your next concreting job or project. You can potentially cut costs for your project by sourcing locally made aggregate products and hiring a team of professionals, like the team at Terrastone. Our team are knowledgeable and highly experienced in creating beautiful concrete applications, and can help you create your dream space within your budget.
Terrastone Architectural Concrete is a premiere decorative concrete contractor servicing the greater Perth region. If you’re interested in how your home’s driveways, pool areas, alfresco areas and other outdoor areas could benefit from our true start to finish installation of exposed aggregate, contact the experience and friendly team at Terrastone for free consultation and quote.
Interested in learning more about the other decorative concrete options available? If so, please visit our informational pages on honed aggregate, polished concrete, coloured concrete and liquid limestone.
Looking for inspiration? Have an idea for your outdoor space? Browse through our galleries and see why Terrastone is considered the Perth regions best in concrete.
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