When it comes to flooring options, looks and sturdiness are two of the biggest factors that affect your choice. You want a surface that is long-lasting and appealing at the same time. However, you probably think that you need to sacrifice looks to get a hardwearing surface and vice versa.
With exposed aggregate, you can get the best of both worlds: durable flooring with a stunning finish. This flooring option will not only improve the overall appeal of your property but can withstand harsh conditions. Therefore, you can expect it to look good as it is now for several years to come.
Exposed aggregate, to be concise, is a type of finish where the top layer is removed to expose the aggregates, such as stones and sand. To achieve it, chemical retarders are used on the surface or a water washing technique. These methods effectively etch away the layer without causing any negative impact on the aggregate.
Where to Use Exposed Aggregate
Exposed aggregate is used in many parts of a property, both commercial and residential. You can have it installed in driveways, pathways, al frescos, pool surrounds, and more. The mentioned areas, as you may already know, are those that demand good looks and reliable performance. You do not want to waste money on useless flooring that can even cost more yet does not offer the same benefits of exposed aggregate.
Let us have an in-depth look at the areas where you can use this flooring option:
- Patios and Pathways
Some would argue that outdoor flooring needs more attention from homeowners than indoor floors. Whether you agree or disagree, you cannot deny the huge impact of the outdoor area. The patio is among them and you know it is one of the spaces in your property that should have exceptional flooring.
Neighbours can see the area, as well as passers-by. Guests enter your home through the patio and it can even serve as the venue for your events.
Therefore, patio floors are important, so you should guarantee their appeal and beauty. At the same time, they should be functional, efficient, and hardy. You need patio flooring that will not deteriorate over time. You can already tell that exposed aggregate is the best choice for your patio.
- Driveways and parking areas
Your driveway and parking area require a type of flooring that is highly durable. Because it accepts at least one vehicle daily, which can even stay there for several hours, the floors should withstand the weight.
While there are numerous other options for driveway flooring, exposed aggregate is certainly one of the best. You do not want the area to be slippery. It should also be durable and easily maintained. All these benefits come with using exposed aggregate.
- Entertainment areas
If you always invite people over for a party or get-togethers, you know the outdoor entertainment area should have a hardy flooring as well. One of the things about concrete that make homeowners turn away from it is the grey colour. It is not exactly inviting and warm. On the contrary, it looks dull and cold for some people.
However, exposed aggregate is far more decorative than a boring grey colour. If you want to breathe new life in your entertainment area outdoors, this flooring option is for you.
Precast panels or concrete
Some sources say that precast concrete started in ancient Rome, considering that there was an extensive network of tunnels designed during that time. They still exist up to this day. No matter where it came from, precast concrete is making waves all over the world, including the US and Australia.
Precast panels are those that you see created away from your home. A mould is used to shape the panels. Concrete is poured into the mould that usually comes with rebar or a wire mesh and the product is later cured in a controlled environment. Typically, it takes place at a plant.
When the curing process is complete, the precast concrete will be delivered to your home or the construction site where it will be installed.
Exposed aggregate can make precast panels more attractive. The panels are often a part of parking structures, building foundations, bridges, culverts, and kerb inlets among many others.
Parkland and other public spaces
Decorative concreting has become one of the top options in public areas. Exposed aggregate is extremely attractive with unique designs. It is popular in residential properties but also in spaces that receive a continuous influx of people.
It is non-slippery, making it safe for those walking around, whether young or old. Children tend to play in parks and run around in huge open spaces. You must select the right type of flooring. Exposed aggregate is one of the most useful options around.
Make exposed aggregate a part of your landscaping. It does not stick out but blends in well with the surroundings. This decorative concrete variety is a great alternative to other options that you may see in other landscaping projects, such as paving slabs and block paving. It also goes well with limestone walls.
You can have a free-flowing pathway all around your garden or yard. You will not see any unsightly joints, so you do not have to worry about weeds as well. If you welcome many visitors daily, this concrete type is also hardwearing.
You surely want to have a private paradise right in your backyard. Instead of settling for a typical looking pool, you can turn to exposed aggregate to enhance the appearance of the pool deck, landscaping, and paving.
Colours and styles are limitless. But more important than the design, exposed aggregate ensures a non-slip surface. It is the perfect choice for families and everyone with a pool.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Even after reading everything above, you may still not be convinced that this decorative option is for you. To make it simpler, here are the top reasons why you want to go for exposed aggregate for your next flooring project:
- Unparalleled stylishness
Say goodbye to the notion that concrete is grey, cold, and boring. You have an endless stream of choices waiting for you with this decorative concrete. There are virtually unlimited design selections, whether in look, texture, and colour. Even the shape of the flooring can be altered according to your requirements and preferences.
Different finishes are available even when using the same mixes. Therefore, you get to transition easily from polished flooring in a certain part of the space to an outdoor finish that guarantees a non-slippery texture.
With such a method, you can maintain a uniform appearance throughout the property. There is a seamless connection between the indoor and outdoor areas of the house.
- Trusted durability
For any item to be considered cost-effective, it has to last for a long time. It should be worth every penny you have spent. The durability of exposed aggregate is hard to match. It can last several years even without maintenance. Other types of concrete, along with other materials, can be difficult to maintain. You need to regularly reseal them or perhaps call a professional to ensure they will still function for the years to come.
Exposed aggregate provides you with good performance that will last for a lifetime. Let us compare it with stone pavers. They are also popular in Australian homes. However, many property owners now see that they are hard to maintain and can get damaged quickly.
Stone pavers are often compacted, minimising their spaces between one another. On the other hand, exposed aggregate utilises inert materials, which are connected and moulded into one homogenous form. Together, they have high compressive strength with the addition of resistance from abrasion. You can already tell how durable this material is from the start.
- Easy to maintain
This type of decorative concrete does not require a lot of maintenance. In fact, you can leave it alone for a year and it will not wither or reduce quality. You can trust that it will look as good as new even after several months.
If there is a problem, it can easily be resolved. You can either contact the installer if you are still covered with the warranty. This way, the pathway or wherever exposed aggregate is installed will be taken care of.
Cracks are often a huge concern for many homeowners with decorative concrete. With proper upkeep, including cleaning, the material can last for five years or more without any signs of trouble.
Because you do not have to worry about maintenance, you can save money that you could have paid for a professional service. Exposed aggregate does not have grout that will eventually change in colour. You also do not have to think about gaps, weeds, and sand erosion. All these problems may be possible with other materials, such as bricks and pavers but not exposed aggregate.
There is also no need for cutting tiles to ensure they fit the area or even waiting for the curing process to finish. Even though it is a type of decorative concrete, it does not require re-staining, unlike the others. Also, it will not warp or crack in many situations.
The Negatives of Decorative Concrete
We do not want to sound like we are heavily promoting exposed aggregate.
Here at CoastCrete, it is more important that customers learn about concrete products. The following are some of the disadvantages of using exposed aggregate:
- You cannot do it on your own.
Unless you have done many concreting jobs before, you should not attempt to DIY exposed aggregate. Always go for a trusted professional to do the dirty work for you.
- The material can be prone to damage.
This statement is especially true with decorative stones. They can break in just a few years since they will be exposed to heavy and consistent traffic. It is why you should make sure that the materials are high-quality. They have a much lower risk of getting destroyed by walking feet and vehicles.
- You could deal with unprofessional and inexperienced installers.
Many homeowners think that installing any type of flooring does not involve any rules and regulations. However, Australian Standards are set to remind both the consumers and professionals the ethical procedures in anything related to flooring.
For instance, the Australian Standard 3827 provides details about residential pavements. Reading it will tell you about performance requirements. Another is the National Construction Code, which should also be followed about water drainage. For concrete finishes, you should first check the guide to concrete flatwork finishes from the Cement Concrete and Aggregates Australia.
Knowing about these rules may seem to be a waste of time, but it surely pays to be a smart consumer. Otherwise, you could end up with incorrect thickness, finishes, and levels. Pitting, ponding, and messed up surfaces are just among the problems you can encounter with inexperienced concreting traders.
Decorative Concrete Variations
Decorative concrete lets you add colour, texture, and life to a certain space. Whether it is the driveway, alfresco, patio, or pool surround, you can achieve an eye-catching design with decorative concrete. Plus, you can choose the best style that complements your landscaping and house.
Aside from exposed aggregate, you can also choose from other types of decorative concrete, including:
- Stamped concrete
- Polished aggregate
- Burnished concrete
- Polished concrete
- Honed aggregate
The above-mentioned types are other methods of applying decorative concrete. One method involves adding some special components into the concrete mix before it is poured onto the surface. Other ways include adding an extra layer with decorative concrete on top of the existing concrete after the curing process.
Just like exposed aggregate, there are almost no limits in the possibilities of design with most of the decorative concrete options above. If exposed aggregate is not for you, make sure that you consider the options listed above. Let a professional guide you on which choice is better suited for your flooring requirements. Talk to one of the pros at CoastCrete to learn and discover your options and which one to go for.