Decorative exposed aggregate on concrete begins as a painstaking process. Although it is very meticulous and time-consuming, it ultimately produces beautiful decorative concrete pieces in the end. This decorative concrete option is best used in outdoor spaces such as walkways, driveways, at poolsides, and even as lining in-between other flooring options. There are many benefits to exposed aggregate concrete as it is weather-resistant, slip-resistant, and cost-effective for the stylish end result.
The process includes seeding decorative stones onto the concrete (which is recommended doing by hand for best placement and results), letting the concrete rest for the appropriate amount of time which varies on the size and quantity of aggregate used, and generally finishes off with a thin layer of cement paste to set and to create the exposed look. Everything from how heavy or light the seeding of the decorative stones is applied and how closely packed the aggregate is placed all greatly affect the end results. Here are some options to consider when installing exposed aggregate concrete in your outdoor space.
The desired end results should be considered early on in the process in order to prepare the necessary aggregate size, color, and quantity. With many decorative stones to choose from for this purpose, it is important to think of the stones’ shape. Stones with rough and sharp edges don’t make for the best aggregate in this scenario as they can affect the flatness of the concrete in the end result. Stones with round edges on the other hand are easier to hand-seed as they spread evenly and don’t overlap in the process. Just as important is the size of the stone as it greatly affects the meticulous process of the hand-seeding. Whether or not the exposed aggregate concrete is a uniform color and shape is up to personal taste in the end, but can also leave another factor into play when hand-seeding the aggregate. If combining more than one color and/or shape, then it is important to decide how to hand-seed the aggregate. Whether or not to mix the aggregate at random or to carefully place each in a desired pattern is important for the look and feel.
Smaller stones, such as crushed aggregate, will require much more material to make for a heavily and tightly-packed option and require more attention when seeding. When hand-seeding heavily, you do have the creative option to combine aggregate sizes and/or colors. The end result of this, and of any heavy hand-seeding, is a colorful collage-like assortment that stands out among your outdoor space.
If opting for a light hand-seeding, smaller crushed aggregate will provide a minimal look whereas the color of the aggregate will be the only thing to visually “pop” along the neutral hues of the concrete. When light-hand seeding aggregate, the scarcity of the pieces will provide the minimalist look. The alternative would be to choose bigger stones and bright colors to provide more of a visual “pop” when opting for the light look.
When it comes to hand-seeding the aggregate, there are many different factors to consider in order to create a unique end result to personal taste. There are many decisions to make in every step of the way, such as whether or not to use uniform size and/or color in the aggregate, and whether or not to hand-seed “heavily” or “lightly”. All these options will greatly change the look and feel of the project. Take all of these into consideration and plan appropriately for the end result you desire.