While exposed aggregate finishes are often referred to as “Gothic” or “Medieval”, this finish is gaining popularity in contemporary designs. Exposed aggregate is not just for those looking for a more organic and rustic appearance. Still, it can be adapted to modern and luxury homes and projects by pairing the suitable colour aggregates with the project design. This article will show some of the most popular uses of exposed aggregate concrete currently being used worldwide by architects and designers alike.
Concrete floors that have been finished with an exposed aggregate finish are becoming increasingly popular due to their ability to enhance indoor spaces and outdoor living areas, including patios, walkways, pool decks, and more.
One of the most important things to remember about exposed aggregate concrete is that the colour and texture will change over time due to foot traffic, environmental conditions, and chemical exposure. The most common aggregates used in an exposed finish include pumice, scoria, volcanic cinder and rock or metamorphic stone such as basalt or bluestone. Exposed aggregate is mixed with an epoxy-based binder that provides durability and helps seal the surface from water penetration while allowing for some natural movement in the material. In addition, a quality contractor will often use a laser finishing tool to ensure even distribution throughout the floor. This also helps achieve a very consistent finish across large areas when needed. Since no two aggregate pieces are identical, there will be slight variations in colour and texture over time. However, as mentioned earlier, the result is a beautiful surface that should be enjoyed for years to come.
EXPOSED AGGREGATE CONCRETE EXPOSED TO WATER
The epoxy binder used in exposed aggregate concrete helps resist water penetration but damages it if it becomes saturated. It’s best to avoid direct exposure to standing water as this could lead to swelling of the aggregates resulting in spalling or flaking of the surface. This same process can occur if direct exposure occurs to de-icing salts or other chemicals present on roadsides or sidewalks surrounding your project site. If you live in an area where road salt is used during the winter months, you may opt for a polished concrete finish instead.
As mentioned, exposed aggregate concrete is famous for indoor and outdoor applications. It’s an attractive option for living areas such as entryways, hallways, entertainment spaces, and even patio or pool decks. Scoria and pumice’s density is typically higher than other aggregates due to their weight, making them an excellent choice for exterior surfaces where foot traffic will be lighter.
Exposed aggregate can also help bring warmth and character to an interior space, thanks to the natural colour variations found in the aggregates themselves.
AGGREGATE CONCRETE IS USED FOR:
– Poured walls and columns: Primarily used as decorative elements around structural beams and windowsills
– Exposed: When the entire floor is left unsealed, allowing the aggregate to be exposed
– Tumbled: Flattens and polishes the top surface of a concrete slab
– Patios: Great for pool decks, entryways and outdoor living spaces.
– Fencing: Use as a decorative element around fencing or post caps.
– Fireplaces: Use more significant pieces of volcanic scoria or basalt rock as a complimenting material that can also provide some heat resistance.
High quality exposed aggregate finish requires control and the right mix of aggregates. Achieving this kind of finish at a large scale requires a high level of precision and expertise. In today’s market, advanced finishing tools such as laser finishers have revolutionized how professionals achieve this type of finish. These finishes are also extremely labour-intensive to install, involving multiple steps, including placing and finishing the slab during construction and grinding, polishing and sealing the surface after construction.