If you don't want to install a plain concrete surface, then you can use an exposed aggregate mix. This concrete is more decorative. It contains additional materials such as stones, sand, or glass to make the surface look more attractive. These additives also add traction to the concrete.
However, before you lay an exposed aggregate, you have to choose a finish. Read on to find out more about popular options and how they work.
If you choose a standard aggregate concrete finish, then your aggregates go into the concrete as it is mixed. You can choose an off-the-shelf mix or a specific aggregate.
When your contractor pours your concrete, the aggregate settles in place just under the surface. At this stage, your aggregate isn't exposed.
To expose the surface, your contractor levels the concrete and lets it start to set. They then apply a retardant to it. This retardant slows the setting process of the concrete's top layer but allows its underlying layer to set as normal. They then wash away the wet top layer to expose the aggregate.
Standard aggregates work well if you are happy with a random finish. You can't control the placement of the aggregates; they fall in the pour. However, this is a cost-effective way to create an exposed aggregate concrete surface. It is a less labor-intensive process.
A topping aggregate finish uses a two-stage process. Your aggregates aren't in the whole mix. They go on the top of the surface.
First, your contractor lays a concrete base and leaves it to dry. They then add a thinner layer of concrete to the base. This layer contains all your aggregate.
A topping finish gives you more control over how your surface looks. You can manipulate your aggregate placement. While you have extra labor work because of the extra pour, you have reduced aggregate costs because you only use these materials in the top layer of the surface.
Seeded aggregate finishes are similar to topping processes. You add your aggregate after you lay your concrete. However, you only have one pour.
Your contractor lays your concrete base. Then, while the surface is still wet, you put the aggregate on top of the surface. The concrete then sets around it.
This is a more labor-intensive process. It usually involves manual seeding. However, you get complete control of where your aggregate goes on the surface. So, you can use this process to create multi-colored aggregate placement or artistic designs.
Once you've chosen a finish, contact a concrete aggregates supplier to order your mix.