Several decades ago, plain concrete was used mainly for garages, patios, and basements. However, things have changed because concrete is now a top choice in modern homes. Today, concrete is viewed as the most commonly used building material, not just in Australia but all over the world.
In the simplest form of the material, it is formed by mixing aggregates and paste. The latter is mostly made of a special type of cement comprised of closely controlled chemicals, such as calcium, aluminium, and iron and they are mixed with water.
Meanwhile, the aggregate mixture and its size and type depend mainly on the purpose of the concrete product itself. Thus, varieties of aggregates are created and they have their own benefits and uses.
Concrete surfaces offer a ton of benefits for homes, including being cost-efficient, durable, resilient, and non-flammable. It is because of these benefits that they are the ultimate choice for driveways, patios, alfresco, and walkways.
There are different types of concrete surfaces. It pays to know which type of best for your needs before you select the one to use for your patio or driveway.
1. Exposed Aggregate
Exposed aggregate is a variation of concrete finish. It is an excellent way for homeowners and businesses to gain a spectacular look without worrying about huge costs.
Seeding is one of the common ways to achieve the finish in which aggregates (for example decorative rocks) are added to fresh concrete.
Another method is to strip away the concrete surface, which leads to exposure of an appealing aggregate mixed into the concrete.
Why Use Exposed Aggregate?
There are several reasons why you may want to use exposed aggregate over other types:
- Compared to brushed concrete, exposed aggregate is more slip-resistant.
- You have numerous options when it comes to colours and textures.
- Exposed aggregate does not require you to perform heavy maintenance tasks because it is durable.
- It is a great option if you would like to use decorative techniques on your driveway and other areas that receive high traffic.
You can create beautiful and dramatic effects using this concrete surface. It is certainly the best choice if you are looking for an inexpensive decorative technique.
Who Should Use Exposed Aggregate?
Exposed aggregate is mostly recommended for families. Because it is slip resistant, you can use it as the surface for your pool deck, patio, and sidewalk. It is also a great choice for those who plan to improve the look of their driveway because of its resilience to heavy items.
If you live in an area with extreme weather, exposed aggregate is an option to consider. It can resist high and low temperatures, even with the changing weather, which can normally create problems with other types of surfaces.
Those who are not fond of heavy maintenance for their walkways, exposed aggregate is an excellent choice. Other than occasional cleaning and sealing, you do not have to accomplish any other tasks to keep the surface sturdy and appealing.
This type of surface is best for the following applications:
- Pool decks
You can use exposed aggregate in areas that can become slippery and wet. It is also recommended for people looking for a decorative technique that will give them the most bang for their buck. With low maintenance and the ability to customise the look, this inexpensive option can last for a very long time.
2. Honed Aggregate
Technically, honed aggregate is a form of exposed aggregate. These two types of concrete surfaces also utilise similar materials.
Therefore, you can expect to have the same options as with exposed aggregate, mainly with the colour and stone options. However, there are a few distinct differences.
Perhaps the biggest dissimilarity is that honed aggregate is laid ground down, which results in a much smoother finish compared to exposed aggregate. Many homes prefer a smooth finish because it looks more elegant for them. It also exudes a more expensive appearance overall.
Why Use Honed Aggregate?
If you looking for reasons why you should choose honed aggregate, you will be happy to know that it has almost the same benefits as exposed aggregate. It offers a wide range of styles so you can pick the best shade, colour, and texture that you want for your patio, driveway, or anywhere in the property. Here are other reasons why it may be the best choice for you:
- Honed aggregate is extremely versatile. If you are worried about your landscape and how the new concrete surface will match, it should not be a problem. The honed aggregate will easily complement your existing site.
- Honed aggregate does not require cutting blocks. It comes in a mixture that is ready to pour, making it a quick procedure for obtaining a new surface.
- This type of concrete surface is also slip-resistant, which is why it is a great option even for families with kids that run around all the time.
- You should not feel any discomfort when walking on the honed aggregate surface.
With the benefits above, it is easy to see why many homeowners look into using honed aggregate for their pathway.
Who Should Use Honed Aggregate?
Honed aggregate is mostly used in the following areas:
- Kitchen counters
- Pool decks
Honed aggregate is also used in driveways because it is resilient. However, if you consider its smooth finish, it may not be the best for this part of the property. You may want to stick with exposed aggregate, which is still thought to be the superior choice because of its texture.
If you already have exposed aggregate, you can have it honed, which is the beauty of this type of surface. Honing the existing aggregate lets you save money since there is no need to remove the concrete that you have installed. It is quicker and much easier to update the look of your patio with this method.
Honed aggregate is a great option for families with kids. They can often tumble on the floor as they run or play around. This type of aggregate is not only slip-resistant but also helps reduce the impact. It is also much more comfortable to walk around, even when you are on foot.
This type of surface is moisture-resistant as well, which makes it ideal for those areas that receive high precipitation. It offers great value for your money but be aware that repairs can be costly. Also, unlike exposed aggregate, honed aggregate is much more expensive initially.
3. Polished Aggregate
If a contractor recently approached you and offered honed or polished aggregate, you may instantly think these two are the same. It is easy to get confused.
However, it is important that you know the difference so you can truly select the right one for your needs.
Polished aggregate is achieved through repeated applications. Taking a close look at a polished aggregate pathway will reveal certain details. Most of the time, polished aggregate is distinguishable because a portion of the aggregate, particularly the one extending above the concrete is very small. Other times, you will see that there are no angular or rough particles to prevent or resist slips.
When touched, the surface should be extremely smooth. It is for this reason that polished aggregate is thought to be the same as honed aggregate.
Just like honed aggregate, polished aggregate is a type of exposed aggregate or at least it begins as such. This type of finish uses crushed quartz, marble, or granite, which will go through a process to be finely crushed. The mixture will be applied at the bottom and its surface will receive multiple applications to polish it. The result is a smoothened out finish, causing the plaster to shine.
While both have a smooth finish, there is one thing to look out for. Honed aggregate is recognisable for its satin finish whereas polished aggregate is more on the glistening side. Coloured stones provide a glossy finish for polished aggregate, making it one of the best decorative surfaces right now.
Why Use Polished Aggregate?
Polished aggregate offers a few benefits just like honed and exposed aggregate:
- Cost savings are perhaps among the biggest reasons why people, particularly residents, opt for polished aggregate. Using it for your home no longer require traditional floor covering materials.
- Compared to other materials, polished aggregate is not as vulnerable to damage. When applied, it should not need replacing even after several years.
- Another reason why polished aggregate is a wonderful choice for homes is that it is easy to clean. It resists allergens, dust, and dirt.
- If you love variety, you will see that there are numerous options when it comes to styles and colours.
- Polished aggregate is resistant to foot traffic, which makes it a great material for commercial spaces, such as stores.
Aside from not needing floor covering, this type of concrete surface also does not require expensive and difficult maintenance work.
Who Should Use Polished Aggregate?
Most existing concrete floors can be easily polished, whether they are new or old. As long as they are structurally sound, you should not have any problem. You may want to utilise polished aggregate if you want to stay on budget, especially when it comes to maintenance.
Because of the durability, you do not have to be concerned much regarding breakage and cracks. Of course, routine maintenance is necessary to ensure the surface is free from dust and debris. However, damp mopping and removing abrasives can quickly secure the life and look of the surface.
Families should not be worried when using polished concrete flooring. While it appears slippery because of its smoothness, it is comfortable and safe to walk on. However, you need to ensure that it is clean and dry.
In fact, polished aggregate is less slippery compared to other materials and surfaces, particularly polished marble and waxed linoleum. Still, it makes sense to prevent slip and fall accidents, especially if you will use this concrete surface in heavy foot traffic areas.
Polished aggregate may be a good option for your home but it is not applicable for all floors. However, it is recommended for the following:
- Retail stores
- Car showrooms
Although polished aggregate is durable, it is not the best decorative technique to go for in high traffic areas. Many businesses do use it for their stores and showrooms. However, the slippery surface is not ideal for these spaces where customers can easily fall. It is also not advised for pools and spas. If you have pets, it is not ideal because of the high chances of accidents, as well as the scratches that may become visible.
4. Liquid Limestone
Liquid limestone is a material that consists of cement and limestone. They are mixed together to create a solution that is easy and ready to pour. The result is a seamless and smooth finish. There are a few reasons why liquid limestone has quickly become one of the most popular choices for homeowners and businesses these days. Often, it provides a natural look while still offering high versatility.
Liquid limestone gives a stylish landscaping solution that can last for several years. It is regarded as an ideal substitute for those who want to have a conventional look for their alfresco area.
One thing that sets liquid limestone apart from other pavers is that it is not laid individually. Instead, it is poured in one block in a uniform manner. This method makes it resistant to common outdoor problems, including weeds, anthill, and tree roots.
Why Use Liquid Limestone?
Here is a list of benefits why liquid limestone may exactly be what you are looking for in a decorative technique for the concrete surface:
- You do have to worry about the sinking of the pavers, which is a usual problem with other types of pavers.
- Liquid limestone does not require a lot of maintenance work.
- Replacements are rare, thanks to its durability.
- You can find numerous limestone design and colours. Therefore, it should not be difficult for it to match your existing home design.
- It keeps weeds and grasses from growing.
Its customisability, resilience, and anti-slip features make liquid limestone a cost-efficient choice for homes and even businesses in Australia.
Who Should Use Liquid Limestone?
Liquid limestone is great for most surfaces and areas of the house or building, including:
- Pool surrounds
- Garden paths
Liquid limestone is extremely versatile, which is why you can have it installed anywhere. It is a great option for cities, such as Perth, when the summers can become quite hot. Liquid limestone is one of the very few surfaces that can help keep the feet cool.
5. Polished Concrete Overlay
Polished concrete floors have become quite popular, especially in the world of decorative flooring.
Retail and commercial floors show off polished and glossy finishes. However, many existing slabs can have some major problems, including extensive patchwork and carpet tack holes. These issues can still show even after polishing the concrete.
Thankfully, a polished concrete overlay is here to provide the solution. If you have a polished floor yet it still shows some flaws, an overlay may be the answer. Polished overlays can quickly cover up floor problems, so you can achieve a smoother surface without any seams.
Why Use Polished Concrete Overlay?
If concrete polishing is not enough, you may require an overlay. It hides the imperfections of the slab that can show through if you only use the polishing method. One method to achieve this result is to seed the overlay and polish it after, which will expose the aggregate. You can have the effect of terrazzo without shelling a lot of cash.
The polished overlay system comes with a ton of benefits, including:
- Its polished surface makes it easy to clean. Getting rid of dirt and debris has never been this easy.
- The durable surface can take heavy traffic, which is why it is used even in commercial settings.
- Polished concrete overlay great reduces allergens in the area because it does not hold mould and other irritating matter.
- The overlay system is also moisture-proof, which allows it to resist damage due to mould and mildew.
- It helps improve air circulation while reducing heating costs.
However, it should be noted that although polished concrete overlay is durable, it has the tendency to crack when exposed to high temperatures.
Who Should Use Polished Concrete Overlay?
A polished concrete overlay is a great option for almost every type of concrete flooring. It is best for concrete slabs with visible flaws, including those with spalled areas. If you need to improve the aesthetic of your pathway, garage, garden, and inside your home, the polished overlay system may be for you.
It is recommended for offices as well and those that require help in heating the room. This type of concrete surface is certainly an excellent choice for homes where the residents have asthma and other sensitivities.
Consider your options above and determine which concrete surface is suitable for your needs and preferences.