Protecting Exposed Aggregate

Whether you’re looking to make your home stand out, add a touch of safety underfoot or boost its value if you ever decide to sell, exposed aggregate is a great choice. This decorative concrete is not only attractive but also hardwearing.

Exposed aggregate requires some regular maintenance. To help you care for your exposed aggregate concrete surface, Brickform offers several helpful products.

1. Clean the Area

While exposed aggregate is more durable and requires less maintenance than regular concrete, it can be prone to damage from walking traffic or vehicles. This is why it’s important to take extra care when cleaning the surface, particularly around drains and other features on your home’s exterior.

A weekly clean may need a little more than simply using your garden hose to spray down the concrete, as dirt can get lodged between the exposed aggregate stones and require a wire brush or strong pressure hose. This will prevent the aggregates from becoming dislodged over time, resulting in an uneven finish or a loss of visual appeal.

Exposed aggregate Melbourne is popular as a finish around swimming pools, in backyards and al fresco areas, driveways and commercial spaces such as warehouses and large shopping centres. It’s easy to install and provides a more rustic, dynamic design than regular concrete surfaces.

To create an exposed aggregate concrete surface, contractors can either pour a special mix with the added aggregate material or use a topping method where they lay the aggregate on top of regular concrete that’s already been poured. Either way, a chemical surface retarder is used to slow down the concrete’s hydration process so that contractors can control the level of exposure desired. 

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2. Use a Putty Knife and Chisel

A popular choice for driveways, patios, and sidewalks, exposed aggregate is Melbourne concreting that displays decorative coarse aggregate (either batched into the concrete mix or seeded on the surface). The result is a rugged, nonskid, and attractive finish that contrasts nicely with plain concrete or other decorative treatments such as stamping, stencilling, staining, and integral coloring. Exposed aggregate is also highly durable and requires little maintenance beyond sealing and occasional cleaning.

The basic method for exposing aggregate in concrete involves washing away a thin layer of the cement paste to reveal the decorative aggregate, either by spraying on a chemical retarder or by using a stiff-bristle brush. Afterward, the contractor may apply several clear coats of sealer to create a shiny surface. However, this step is optional if you prefer a matte finish.

In a seeded aggregate concrete finish, the decorative aggregates are placed by hand on top of wet concrete after pouring and floated with a hand float. This is the most popular technique for exposed aggregate in residential concrete. However, it can be difficult to achieve a uniform look. It’s best to deal with experienced concreters for this type of project.

Regardless of which method is used, installing an exposed aggregate surface is not a job that you can take on yourself in your spare time. It’s a project that requires professional installation and is best left to the experts at Melbourne’s leading concrete contractors.

3. Fill the Cracks

With its rustic appearance, exposed aggregate concrete is a great choice for landscaping projects. It is versatile and matches up well with different types of homes and garden designs. It also goes well with other decorative concrete finishes such as stencilling, staining, and integrated colouration. It is also skid resistant, making it a good option for driveways. However, exposed aggregate concrete requires more frequent maintenance than standard concrete. The decorative surface tends to trap dirt and debris more readily than plain concrete, making it prone to damage and wear. It also needs to be sealed more frequently than standard concrete. This is not a project that should be tackled by the DIYer, and it’s best left to a professional concrete company.

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In this style of decorative concrete, the contractor mixes the aggregate in a batch mix at the concrete plant. The aggregates can be pebbles, shells, or other decorative materials. They can be mixed into a fresh concrete mix or added as a topping to an existing concrete slab. The latter method, known as topping or seeding, is usually more economical. Once the concrete is poured, it is allowed to cure for a day before the contractors spray a chemical surface retarder on top of the surface. This makes it easier to expose the aggregates when the concrete is set.

4. Apply a Sealer

A clear, penetrating concrete sealer is a great way to preserve the exposed aggregate once it’s dry. It will protect against freeze-thaw damage, staining from deicing salts, abrasions and hard water deposits, and it will make the stones look richer. It also adds a nice sheen to the surface that is attractive. Choose a sealant that is compatible with your specific type of aggregate; some work better with crushed glass, while others are best for granite chip aggregate. Before applying the sealant, give it a test run in an inconspicuous area to see how well it works with your aggregate.

If you do want to try to clean an exposed aggregate surface on your own, be sure to use a pressure washer with the right amount of power to avoid damaging the cement and dislodging the aggregate stones. It’s also important to rinse the driveway after cleaning it. If the aggregate is not properly cleaned, it will begin to deteriorate and can become loose from the concrete.

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If you’re interested in a more permanent solution, consider covering your exposed aggregate with a thin layer of bricks. This will not only prevent stains and cracks, but it will also create a non-slip surface for pedestrians and vehicles. It’s a good idea to hire a professional if you plan on laying the bricks yourself.