best how to do exposed aggregate concrete

How to Do Exposed Aggregate Concrete

If you’re tired of standard concrete and you’re looking to jazz up your outdoor space, it’s time to consider exposed aggregate concrete. This aesthetic finish is obtained by stripping away an ordinary and uninteresting surface to unveil the exemplary beauty that lies beneath. In the case of concrete, the beauty is provided by the decorative aggregate, which is typically combined into the concrete mix or seeded onto the surface.

4 Ways You Can Get Exposed Aggregate Concrete

Can you achieve exposed aggregate finishes on your own? To a certain extent, yes. But if you have never done any kind of concrete work in the past, it might cost you some time and money with trial and error. If you want it done the first time correctly, it’s best to call a pro. Here are four of the most common methods contractors use.

Brushing and Washing

This is the cheapest way to get exposed aggregate concrete, and you will need nothing more than a broom, a water spray, and a trowel. Once you’ve laid your concrete, and it’s firm enough not to sink the pebbles, seed your aggregates onto the surface, then use a trowel to push down the pebbles gently. 

Proceed to spray the surface mortar with water and brush a thin layer away using a broom until you see that the aggregates are exposed at an acceptable depth. The final step is staining the surface after it has completely hardened. Keep in mind that because timing is so crucial with this approach, it is typically applicable for smaller areas.

Abrasive Pressure Washing

Abrasive pressure washing, generally called sandblasting, is the process of forcing a stream of abrasives under high pressure on a hardened concrete surface and cement paste to expose the aggregates underneath. The slight issue with this method is that it can break up aggregates and make them look unappealing. If it’s important for you to keep the form and full colour of the aggregates, this method is not a good choice.

Chemical Surface Retarder

One of the easiest ways to get exposed aggregate concrete is with chemical retarders. These chemicals are applied shortly to new concrete poured, which slows down its setting process so that you can expose the aggregates before the concrete hardens. This gives contractors extra time to scrub or pressure-wash the cement paste off for up to a day if they want to. This versatility can be very helpful on huge surfaces or places with hot weather.

Concrete Grinding

Concrete grinding involves a diamond grinder or other grinding tools to expose aggregate within the concrete. This method yields by far the smoothest result when it comes to exposing aggregates. Additionally, with the proper polishing, concrete can have a mirror-like quality akin to polished marble or terrazzo, making it suitable for indoor application as well. The only downside to this approach is that it will require sophisticated tools, a higher than average level of skill, and plenty of free time on your part.

Which is the best option for me?

The answer to this question depends on the result you want out of this project. If you want to achieve an exposed aggregate concrete simply to satisfy a new DIY curiosity and you’re only planning to do it on a small surface, stick to brushing and washing.
Chemical surface retarders might also be helpful and accessible to you in that case, but be sure to do your research and follow the safety precautions that come with it. 

Abrasive blasting might not be a safe DIY endeavour unless you have the tools and the experience for it. Besides, as mentioned, this method yields the least aesthetic result. 

If you want an exquisite exposed aggregate finish to add some pzazz to your place, concrete grinding might be the best choice for you as it works great for areas that need smoothing or levelling. The additional polishing stage will also produce a shimmering surface that might exceed your expectations. You can do it yourself if you’re handy with a grinder, but otherwise, you can hire a professional contractor to do this. 

Contact Ultra Grind Today

Exposed aggregate concrete is a beautiful finish that could add beauty and interest to any home or business property. This is achievable if you wish to do it on your own, but it might require some special skills and equipment. 

Ultra Grind has been installing exposed aggregate concrete for years, so we know what works and what doesn’t. Our skilled team can help you choose the perfect materials, from decorative concrete to incredible-looking aggregates. We guarantee a stunning surface for driveways, patios, or pool surrounds. If you want to learn more about how exposed aggregate concrete can help beautify your property, contact us today!