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For Australians wanting to install a new walkway, driveway, or patio, they will find themselves with plenty of choices. Two of the most popular are exposed aggregate and stamped concrete. Both of them are good options and you will normally be told it all boils down to personal preference.

However, there are different reasons why people choose one over the other. These reasons involve the cost of the whole project, the durability of the material, and its overall appearance. The location where the concrete material will be used also has an important role to play in your decision making.

courtyard with aggregate
Aggregate has a multitude of uses, from patios to courtyards.

So Which One is Better?

Before we get to the answer, it may be necessary to know what aggregate and stamped concrete are.

What is Stamped Concrete?

Many homeowners and businesses in Australia like the result of stamped concrete. Once the process is done, stamped concrete will give an exceptional look and feel that is hard to compare with other methods. Additionally, it does not require you to spend a lot.

For years, stamped concrete was recognised in Australia and the rest of the world. However, it was not that popular because a lesser form was used. They merely repeated certain patterns, which did not convince homeowners to want stamped concrete in their patio or walkway.

Today, the newer types are rich in texture, easily duplicating patterns of surfaces, such as pavers, wood, seashells, and cobblestones among many others. There are also pigmented or coloured stamped concrete options that can even increase selections of patterns for the property owners.

Other methods, such as using bricks and pavers, look great and are efficient as well. However, they form a surface that has many interlocking pieces. As a result, they are vulnerable to changes in the surface, such as frost heave. It may be good in some cases, especially if you want to conceal uneven surfaces. It is because these pavers and other materials will conform to your original surface.

How does stamped concrete make it better? If your surface is level and flat, the concrete you want to be laid out should be the same way. Stamped concrete is stronger, and you can use rods to reinforce it even more.

Another reason why you may want to go for stamped concrete is that it does not allow weeds to grow through the cracks, unlike pavers and cobbles, for instance. Stamped concrete is a continuous surface. It is solid and robust, requiring just a little bit of maintenance.

What is Aggregate Concrete?

Exposed aggregate or aggregate concrete provides a decorative finish for your walkway and pathway. The process involves exposing a smooth texture consisting of small stones and pebbles. The result is a rustic with a mix of earthy appearance.

One great thing about aggregate concrete is that it goes well with any landscape you may already have or what you may be planning for. Like stamped concrete, exposed aggregate is quite cost-efficient in many ways. It is durable and can withstand almost any elements and weight.

Using aggregate has many benefits. Aside from being a strong material, it is also perfect for those with kids because of its non-skid texture. It is durable and can last for years without much maintenance. All you need to do is to reseal and clean it.

In its essence, aggregates are actually an inert filter that is added to the concrete mix. However, the role of aggregates is heightened in both fresh and processed concrete.

Appearance is a primary concern for many homeowners. If you are looking to boost the appeal of your pathways and driveways, aggregate is one of the best solutions around.

The Process

Using stamped concrete is quite complicated. However, it is common to find Australians laying stamped concrete on their own. You will need special tools though, along with the help of about four people. Nevertheless, it can be done with the following steps:

  1. Place the concrete, which should be at least 100 mm thick. Anything less than this amount will render the work useless.
  2. Add colour in the mixer (integral colouring). You can also opt to add it after the placement of concrete (surface or broadcast colouring). If you choose the latter, you will need to evenly spread the dry colour across the concrete surface.
  3. Add the release agent, which removes the texturizing mats without needing to remove concrete.
  4. Lay the mats, which should be performed in succession.
  5. Let it dry for the whole day.
  6. Remove the release agent by pressure washing.
  7. Clear the sealing.

And that is it.

An example of stamped concrete
Mimicking paving, Stamped concrete is seen as an alternative.

The big difference between stamped and aggregate concrete is that the latter involves a more discriminating process. Many people who do not have experience can lay stamped concrete with the steps above. On the other hand, aggregates have a more selective procedure, which is why you should leave it to the pros.

Nevertheless, it does not mean you cannot lay exposed aggregate on your own. You will need the help of other people, along with a special set of skills. Dedication and patience are also required. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Prepare the site properly. Make sure it is clean and ready for the aggregate.
  2. You will usually need heavy equipment to discharge and place the concrete onto the surface.
  3. Carefully even out the surface.
  4. Once you are done placing all the concrete and the surface is now flat, allow it to cure.
  5. You will then have to apply the surface retarder.
  6. Expose the pebble.
  7. Acid wash it lightly after a week or so.

Working with aggregate concrete requires you to place special attention to the shape, texture, and colour. This way, you will yield an exceptional looking product. Save yourself from the headache and frustration. Find a reliable concrete contractor in Western Australia instead.

Which is More Affordable?

Both stamped and aggregate concrete are cost-efficient. Compared to other methods, they are more affordable. You can also factor in their durability and maintenance needs. They do not require much attention, which not only saves money but also time and effort.

Now, which of these two is more budget-friendly? Concreting generally costs anywhere from $50 to $60 square metres. Comparing the two, aggregate is more affordable as it is usually at the lower end of the pricing range. Stamping is not expensive, but using aggregate concrete is more economical, especially if you have a larger project.

Typically, stamped concrete starts at $120 while an exposed aggregate finish is around $100. The pricing will depend on the materials, appearance, contractor, size, and location. To know the entire amount you will pay, you should also understand the cost of concrete for every cubic metre.

On average, concrete is around $250 to $300 for every cubic metre. This pricing only includes the material. However, you may find concrete that costs $160 only but some products can go more than $550 per cubic metre. Also consider the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which will be added to the total cost of the service.

You can always request a quote to know if you can afford the service.

All in all, exposed aggregate is more cost-effective. It looks as great today as it will in the coming years. Plus, it is less expensive than stamped concrete.

Which is More Durable?

The reason why aggregates are often used outdoors is that the material is quite resilient. It easily resists weather, as well as wear and tear damage. On the other hand, stamped concrete is favoured for interior floors. However, there are also properties where stamped concrete is used for pools, patios, and walkways.

Both of these materials are durable. They easily last five years at the very least. You can expect them to be in perfect condition even after 10 years.

But which one can withstand harsher elements? The simple answer is aggregate. It can outlast any other finish, including stamped concrete. It is resilient against hot and cold temperatures. It is more efficient for pathways and driveways because it can handle heavy traffic and vehicles.

Which Looks Better?

Of course, it is a matter of preference. Some people love the look of stamped concrete. One thing that you will certainly appreciate about it is that it can mimic other existing finishes. There are plenty of designs available. Here are some ideas:

  • Slate texture for a natural feel pathway that complements pebbles and foliage
  • Textured stamped concrete for the pool area
  • Coloured stamped patio to match the fire pit
  • Stamped concrete for countertops

The flexibility of stamped concrete is what makes it stand out. If you can think of a design and mould, it can be duplicated using this technique.

For some people, aggregate has a boring look. It has this greyish colour or earthy appearance. The design option seemed to be limited for a while. However, decorative aggregates are now available, which means you can select the look you want and have it on your pathway, backyard, or pool area.

While it is true that stamped concrete can replicate the look of other finishes, it cannot provide the same feel, texture, and style of aggregate concrete. In other words, it cannot imitate an authentic aggregate concrete finish. In this area, it can be discerned that aggregate offers more customisability. At the same time, it exudes uniqueness, which makes it easily recognisable.

Additionally, stamped concrete is not as aesthetically pleasing. Although it can have the same look like bricks and pavers, it remains as such – a duplicate. Just take a look at how real exterior wood plank flooring appears. Now compare it to stamped concrete that tries to have this appearance.

On its terms, you cannot deny that stamped concrete looks dazzling. However, when compared side by side, there is no way that you will mistake stamped concrete as the real thing. Nevertheless, it comes in a variety of patterns, colours, and textures.

If you are interested in a classier and more sophisticated style, aggregate is a better choice. It has its distinct look, yet it blends well with its surroundings. It can complement your existing landscape, pool, and other elements. It is a feat that stamped concrete finds difficult to achieve.

Aggregate Garage Driveway
Aggregate is a great material for driveways.

Applications of Stamped Vs Aggregate Concrete

Stamped and aggregate are both versatile. You can place them almost anywhere. However, if you ask a professional, you will most likely hear about the limitations of stamped concrete. It is why Decorative Concrete WA recommends the use of aggregate.

Stamped concrete is often used for interiors. However, it can also be found in patios, walkways, and driveways. Due to a sealer being applied to the material, it can cause accidents because it is quite slippery when wet. It has less traction than other finishes, including aggregate.

Although you will see people using stamped concrete around their swimming pools, it is not advised to do so. You will need to apply a nonslip additive to help prevent accidents. For this reason alone, many homes with young children and elderly people stay away from using stamped concrete.

On the other hand, the aggregate can be used anywhere. In Australia, it is popularly used on driveways, patios, and pool surrounds. It has a natural anti-slip formula, so you do not have to add any more into the mixture.

Aggregate concrete is the preferred material in parkland gardens, pathways, and landscaped areas. Because of its durability and anti-slip features, it is commonly found in public and parking spaces.

After carefully considering the pros and cons and other deciding factors above, it is easy to see why aggregate is the better choice. Decorative Concrete WA has been in the industry for a long time and experience has proven that aggregate is indeed superior to stamped concrete. It is the more optimal choice when it comes to residential, commercial, and even residential properties in Perth.

With plenty of design options and a material that can perform for a lifetime, you know that you are getting the best deal. Contact Decorative Concrete WA to start working with your aggregate concrete project.

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