Contractors have long prized concrete for its incredible durability and long lifespan. Yet the uniform grey appearance of standard concrete holds less appeal for homeowners interested in beautifying their property. Fortunately, concrete now comes in a wide variety of decorative styles, giving homeowners an unparalleled degree of aesthetic freedom.
One increasingly favored type of decorative concrete goes by the name of exposed aggregate concrete. Yet many homeowner still don't understand the qualities that have made exposed aggregate concrete so popular. This article takes a closer look at four of the most compelling benefits of exposed aggregate concrete.
1. Versatile Aesthetic Options
Exposed aggregate differs from regular concrete in two key ways. First, the top layer of aggregate visibly protrudes from the surface of the pavement. Second, instead of the drab gray gravel used as aggregate in regular concrete, homeowners can select from a wide array of decorative aggregates.
Such aggregates run the gamut in terms of color, shape, and size, allowing you to custom-create a one-ofa-kind concrete surface. The cement used to bind the aggregate together can also be tinted for further aesthetic interplay. And you can choose from more than just stone aggregates. Many people choose to incorporate polished chunks of glass, giving the concrete an added dimension of luminescence.
2. Improved Traction
For the most part, exposed aggregate concrete installation proceeds in much the same manner as regular concrete installation. Yet once the surface has been allowed to partially cure, contractors use water and nylon-bristled brushes to remove part of the cement from the surface. As a result, the aggregate at the top of the slab juts out.
Exposed aggregate concrete thus has a naturally stubby texture, one that gives it more traction than regular concrete, even when wet. Contractors can further enhance traction by altering the size of the aggregate particles used, as well as their shape and surface texture. For instance, raw stones tend to yield more traction than do polished ones.
3. Decreased Susceptibility to Spalling
One of the most common problems faced by regular concrete is spalling. Spalling often happens in wintertime, as the porous concrete absorbs water and dissolved de-icing salts. As temperatures drop, this salty mixture expands, creating large amounts of internal stress.
This stress weakens the surface layer of concrete, making the cement paste susceptible to cracking, crumbling, or shearing away under even normal pressures. Such spalling leaves the surface of the concrete looking rough and pitted. Not only does this reduce the visual appeal of the concrete, but it also hastens the rate of further wear.
Exposed aggregate concrete has a natural degree of immunity to spalling, since contractors have already removed the surface layer of cement paste during installation. To get the best longevity from an exposed aggregate surface, homeowners should have it sealed approximately every two years.
4. Improved Home Value
Surfaces made from exposed aggregate not only look and perform better, but they also add more long-term value to your home. Exposed aggregate driveways, in particular, add a level of curb appeal that can entice would-be buyers. According to a study in Australia, potential buyers overwhelmingly considered homes with exposed aggregate driveways more attractive and contemporary.
As a result, 75 percent of those surveyed indicated that exposed aggregate added 5 percent to the home's total value. 42 percent of respondents went a step farther, claiming that the exposed aggregate concrete added a whopping 10 percent to the home's market value. Should the time ever come to sell your home, exposed aggregate concrete surfaces can easily pay back your initial investment.
Exposed aggregate concrete has become one of the most popular forms of decorative concrete today. For more information about adding an exposed aggregate surface to your home, please contact San Jose's concrete pros at Jimenez Concrete Inc.