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Caring for Exposed Aggregate Concrete

Exposed aggregate concrete is a timeless look for driveways, walkways, and patios. While regular concrete takes less work to install, thus costing less than exposed aggregate, it doesn’t offer some of the other benefits, like a unique-looking finish and extra grip. Aggregate concrete can also last decades in great condition, but it needs to be treated with proper care and attention!

Caring For Aggregate Concrete

Aggregate is one of the three important ingredients in concrete, along with cement and water. Rocks, pebbles and sand are the most commonly used aggregates in cement, and when these are exposed, you get the decorative look of aggregate concrete. Different looks require different methods of adding the aggregate to the concrete:

  • In the standard look, the aggregates are mixed into the cement before it is laid down.
  • Topping aggregate is a layer of aggregate cement an inch or two thick that is poured on top of a base of solid cement.
  • “Seeding” the aggregates means the material is placed into the wet surface of the concrete, letting the workers have more control over the final look.
  • Polishing is a popular choice for indoor exposed concrete. A sander or grinder is used to work the top layer back by a few centimetres, and multiple clear coats are applied to give the flooring some shine.

Regardless of which method you or the concrete builders choose, caring for your exposed aggregate concrete will be the same.

Caring For Exposed Concrete

Exposed aggregate concrete is often used as a surface for high traction areas, which doesn’t make it easy to protect. It’s more prone to damage and dirt than standard concrete, as decorative top layer easily traps dirt and other debris between the pebble gas. While a concrete slab can be quickly cleaned with a good power wash, exposed aggregate usually requires more time and attention.

The best thing you can do is to give the exposed concrete a proper seal. The coats of sealer should be laid on thick and reapplied every two years; for subsequent coats, it doesn’t have to be applied as thickly. You’ll want to choose your sealers based on the type of aggregate material – you have acrylic, urethane, and silicone-based sealers to choose from – so test your choice on a small area of the concrete.

After that, follow some basic care tips that will keep the integrity of the concrete intact:

  • Winter deicers can cause damage that affects the surface through faster freezing and thawing cycles, and some can even affect it chemically. While a seal can definitely prevent much chemical damage, your concrete will still be more susceptible to damage the first year after it is installed. Hold off on deicers for at least the first winter and use something gritty like sand for traction on slippery surfaces.
  • Clean off stains caused by gas, grease, or oil as soon as you can with chemical cleaners and power washing.
  • Keep the surface clean of debris and dirt by sweeping it and washing out the grooves with soap and water regularly.

Exposed aggregate concrete can be more costly, but the beauty can be more than worth it. If you really love the look of this texture and design, then you probably won’t mind having to do the additional maintenance and cleaning that is required for proper upkeep! Contact us to learn more.

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