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What is Decorative Concrete?

Exposed Aggregate driveway in Perth

Decorative concrete is made of regular concrete but enhanced with aggregates, finishes or unique colouring.

Aside from its aesthetic advantages, it’s also used for safety purposes by adding texture that will create a non-slip finish for pool area, walkways, and areas where children and elderly frequent.

Builders, designers and homeowners recognise the value of using it in their plans, more so with the recent incorporation of decorative concrete for patios, floors, bench tops, entryways, pools and many others. Decorative concrete is perfect for mansions, large new homes, and even budgeted remodels. Nowadays, concrete is no longer dull, grey and ugly.

Is Decorative Concrete Cost Effective?

Decorative concrete is an excellent choice if you want to reduce ongoing maintenance, improve its sustainability, and contribute to the overall aesthetics and quality of your project.

In this economy, we are all looking for a way to make our dollars go further. This is true, especially in the construction industry. Whether you are buying consumables for a small home or planning an expansive construction project, it is important to recognise “value engineering”.

The basic idea of value engineering is to preserve the essential functions of material and enhance improvements such as easier maintenance, cut costs and improved final product. One example is decorative concrete.  It delivers excellent value because it’s affordable.

What Are the Other Main Benefits?

Here are some popular applications where the use of decorative concrete can offer real benefits:

A Safer Surface

Honed aggregate and polished concrete have become the go-to material for bars and restaurants. That’s because it provides uniformity, stability, long service life and safety.

A concrete restaurant and bar

Many designers favour decorative concrete for their interior flooring projects compared to high-maintenance coverings that can easily fail due to heavy foot traffic and moisture.

Greener Than Most Building Materials

Another reason decorative concrete is popular is for sustainable building practices. The way concrete is processed and what parts it is made of will determine if a concrete mix itself is a green building material.

However, the raw materials which make up cement in concrete such as lime are amongst the most abundant on earth. Concrete can also be made up of waste by-products from processing plants, power plants and mills such as ash, slag cement, and silica fume.

Energy Efficient and Improves Air Quality

Carpets, rugs and other traditional floor coverings use VOC-emitting adhesives that can be hazardous to the atmosphere and may reduce the indoor air quality.

Using aesthetic concrete for building floors can contribute to the overall sustainability of the structure as it provides thermal mass and good reflectivity. The energy requirements of the structure are also reduced.

The value engineering approach can be a great addition to your design process and can help you in selecting better and value-driven materials for your project.

How Much Does Decorative Concrete Cost?

Decorative concrete is an excellent option if you are looking for a high-end look but are on a constrained budget. Admittedly it not the cheapest material, but concrete is a versatile material and can is used for benchtops, floorings, walkways, pool decks, patios and many other applications.

You can quickly transform the grey, dull look of concrete by using staining, aggregates, honing and polishing. You can even enhance concrete so that it looks like marble or flagstone and other expensive materials, without the exorbitant price tag. While gravel and asphalt are more affordable, they do not offer the same flexibility or looks as concrete regarding enhancements.

The two main factors in determining the cost of a project that involves decorative concrete are labour and materials. Typical materials used are cement and concrete mix, texturing products, forming supplies, colouring, sealers and aggregate stones. Labour, on the other hand, is entirely dependent on the size of your project, if you have existing concrete, and the intricacy of the decorative work needed. It is crucial to hire not cheap labour.

The factors that can influence the cost of your decorative concrete project are:

  • The type of exposed aggregate you use
  • Colours
  • The level of complexity of the design and area
  • If there are particular details required (such as embeds)
  • If you need unique shapes and curves
  • Polishing or honing requirements

Different Types of Decorative Concrete

To help you decide on what type of concrete to install for your project, here is a roundup of the various decorative concrete types. We also recommend checking out our guide to help you determine which concrete surface is right for you.

To ensure the success of your project, hire a company or team who has a solid background in the concrete (and has a glowing reputation). Ask for previous job sites/homes that you can drive by to see their work; both new and old.

Polished Concrete Floors

Of all the decorative concrete types, polished concrete is the most durable. Expensive and large machines are used to grind the concrete surface into a glass-like state.

You will need polishing machines, vacuums, and generators which will set you back quite a chunk of money, but polished concrete projects are often big.

Exposed Aggregate

One of the most common types of decorative concrete is exposed aggregate. This is the process wherein decorative stones, colours textures and aggregates are added to the mix.

Exposed aggregate can be honed, polished, and coloured customised to how the customer wants. Exposed aggregate has been very popular for Decorative Concrete WA customers, particularly for driveways.

An exposed aggregate concrete driveway

Polymer Cement Overlays

One of the earliest concrete enhancements to be used is polymer cement overlays. The process involves adding a polymer resin to the concrete mix to increase its strength and overall performance. It is also an economical way to add textures and colour to your concrete project and it will last for a long time even without maintenance.

Honed Concrete

Another great way to add dimension, texture and shape to your concrete flooring is by honing. This application involves using high powered machines to grind exposed aggregate or plain concrete down to a smooth surface.

Honing is typically done for outdoor areas and polishing is done indoors. Honing can also be used to shape any rough edges.

Concrete Benchtops

Concrete benchtops are responsible for a large portion of decorative concrete’s current popularity. They are natural, organic, earthy and can be fully customised to fit the preferences of the designer.

There are no shortcuts when making concrete countertops, however. It requires training, practice, talent and patience before a client hires you for the job. It is not just about pouring concrete; concrete is added with special mixes and combined with other decorative types such as staining, aggregates and grinding and polishing.

Final Thoughts

Decorative concrete is trending for many reasons. To sum these up, these include:

  • Concrete is clean. Unlike rugs, carpets or vinyl, concrete floors do not harbour mites or allergens so they are ideal for people with allergies.
  • Concrete requires little to no maintenance (depending on the type you use).
  • If installed properly, your home will not only be more beautiful, but be more valuable as well.

Always consult the services of an expert so that you have the right kind of assistance when you get started. This way, you won’t end up wasting money and time.

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