There are a few different types of Concrete Finishes available to you. The application and your budget will help determine which concrete finish is perfect for your concrete project.
In a moment I will teach you the four basic types of concrete finishes – Slick, Broom, Exposed Aggregate and Stamped.
First, I would like to give you brief synopsis of what concrete actually is.
Concrete seems that it comes in all shapes and sizes yet, at it’s core it’s pretty much three components.
The three main components of concrete is Portland cement, aggregate and water.
The paste (cement and water) coats the aggregate (sand and rock) and through hydration the paste hardens, strengthens and creates concrete.
The key to strong concrete is in the proportions one uses of the three components. Water is the easiest component to over proportion. The more water one uses in the mix the more fluid the mixture becomes. It becomes easier to mix, work with and – to a point – easier to finish. The downside to over proportioning the water is weaker concrete strength.
The typical mix ratio of concrete is 10 to 15 percent cement, 60 to 75 percent aggregate and 15 to 20 percent water.
You now have the basic understanding of what makes concrete, next you will learn the four basic concrete finishes.
Slick Troweled Concrete
Exposed Aggregate Concrete
Here is a basic description of each.
Slick Troweled Concrete
Slick Troweled Concrete is created when a steel hand trowel or machine is used by the cement mason to close the exposed surface of the concrete project. Typically, slick troweled concrete can be found as garage floors, basement floors, warehouse floors and covered front porches.
More labor and time is required to produce the Slick Troweled Concrete Finish due to the concrete needing to be hard enough for the cement finisher to walk or kneel on. When the concrete becomes hard enough to stand or kneel on – there is a limited window of time the finisher has to ‘close the surface’ before the concrete hardens beyond being able to be worked.
The benefits of Slick Troweled Concrete is ease of cleaning. Slick troweled concrete is easy to sweep and mop. Hose it down and squeegee off!
The pitfall to Slick Troweled Concrete is that when it’s damp or wet it’s – well – slick…There is minimal traction to this finished product if it’s wet or your shoes or wet from rain or snow.
Broom Finished Concrete
Broom Finished Concrete is similar to Slick Troweled Concrete in that both contain the same ingredients yet with Broom Finished Concrete the surface does get closed but a specialty broom attachment is dragged across the surface to create a distinct rough texture. This method does not require that the finisher close the surface by hand but at Benhardt Construction the majority of our Broom Finished Concrete Projects does get closed by hand before brooming. I have found that this provides a very consistent texture that is very appealing to the eye.
The benefits of Broom Finished Concrete is that it has good traction and is visually appealing.
The pitfall to Broom Finished Concrete is that it’s a little harder to clean since it has the rough texture.
Exposed Aggregate Concrete
Exposed Aggregate Concrete is the first finished concrete product on the list that uses a different aggregate than that of Slick Troweled or Broom Finished. The reason is that the aggregate is revealed or ‘exposed’ through a multi step process that removes the cement or ‘paste’ from the exposed surface area. The Slick Trowel and Broom Finish utilize limestone whereas Exposed Aggregate offers plenty of river stone options. Using a smaller, rounder stone one can find colors ranging from blues, to browns, to reds and greens. The concrete is placed or poured and finished very similar to the already mentioned. Then a retarding chemical is used on the surface that will be exposed. Usually left overnight, the surface of the concrete is washed with water to remove the cement paste on the surface.
The rest of the concrete is fine as the retarding agent is not deep penetrating and it only affects the upper surface.
The removal of the cement paste reveals all the beautiful aggregates that otherwise would be hidden in a typical concrete project.
The benefits of Exposed Aggregates is the pure beauty and uniqueness of the finished project.
The pitfall is that one wants to be careful with the size aggregate they chose. The smaller the better because the larger the stone the more space in between stones for dirt and debris to collect, making furniture harder to move along with walking in formal wear more difficult.
Stamped Concrete can be worked to mimic stone, brick, wood and other materials. A variety of colors that can be placed into the concrete as dyes and pigments along with the release agents that assist the stamps from not sticking to the concrete. (Just like flour does when making biscuits) Stamped Concrete requires the most materials and labor making it the most expensive option but the results are stunning. Stamped Concrete works great around pools, outdoor kitchens and patios, wineries – heck you name it really. There is a multitude of choices across the board that will suit your needs and tastes.
The process for finishing Stamped Concrete is very similar to what we already learned. If there is to be a color in the concrete itself it will be added at the concrete plant or on the job site. The concrete will also contain a smaller aggregate to ensure uniform consistancy throughout the stamp and allow for the aggregate to not be pushed too far below the surface by the stamp. The concrete will be hand worked by a finisher as before and then the stamping will take place. Very large and heavy rubber mats with the texture you chose will be placed in a pattern after the release (flour) has been spread across the surface area. The stamping takes place and the molded textures create the desired effect in the surface of the concrete. The stamps are removed one at a time and placed in a new location unstamped after the release is down. This process continues until the entire surface has been stamped properly.
The within one to five days depending upon numerous factors – the surface that was stamped must be power washed to remove any extra release agent from the surface of the concrete before sealer can be applied the following day after allowed to dry.
Now You have a basic understanding of what concrete is and the concrete finishes that are available to you. Here is Some Additional Content About Concrete Finishes…
Which one is best for you?
It all comes down to what I wrote about in the 5 IMPORTANT QUESTIONS THAT MUST BE ANSWERED FOR A GREAT CONCRETE PROJECT, the purpose of the concrete project and what your budget is for your concrete budget.
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