Everything You Need To Know About Exposed Aggregate Concrete Driveways
We’ve compiled some of the best advice and suggestions on choosing between the wide variety of exposed aggregate concrete driveways so you can get the best and most durable one for your home. An Exposed Aggregate Driveway is a kind of ornamental concrete in which the aggregates mixed with the cement, primarily pebbles and small sized stones will be exposed to act as contrast to the conventional smooth finish of other concrete finishes. Exposed aggregate concrete driveways create visual curiosity for a surface since it has unpredictable designs and Many Different Exposed Aggregate Colours.
Also, this is a low cost method to provide old or new aggregate concrete surfaces a more attractive appearance. Apart from the sensible Cost Of An Exposed Aggregate Concrete Driveway it also highlights the main trait of concrete, which is its durability. These characteristics make the choice very well known. Since it’s very durable, a few of the most typical uses of exposed aggregate concrete surfaces are outside areas like footpaths and traffic areas, especially driveways, sidewalks, patios, plazas or pool decks. This can also be utilized on vertical projects like decorative walls and building facades or entrances.
Now apart from the truth that it is hard wearing against heavy foot and vehicular traffic and many times more cost-effective than other ornamental concrete methods, listed are more advantages why an exposed aggregate concrete surface can be a good choice:
1. An Exposed Aggregate Concrete Driveway has unlimited texture and colour choices, allowing a customized appearance. And other than sealing the finish and periodic cleaning, this choice does not need maintenance at all.
2. The rugged texture of surface creates less risk slipping compared to brushed concrete.
3. This is highly resistant to harsh weather and climates.
4. You don’t need additional tools or materials compared to other choices.
5. Creating an Exposed Concrete Driveway is faster to learn and master rather than other ornamental concrete methods.
6. Such methods have long been used from 1900s to the present and it is still quite popular today with contractors who find even more creative ways of making it durable and attractive.
2 of the most common methods for forming an exposed aggregate concrete driveway are:
First is surface dressing – for this technique the ornamental aggregate like decorative stones, any gravel, crushed glass, sea shells or quartzite is spread and put into the freshly-poured cement. This cement should first be tapped approximately 5 to 9 mm below the needed finish level prior to the aggregates being spread uniformly over the concrete and tamped on the concrete’s top layer. This technique is perfect for small sized projects like patios and garden walkways.
The second is the washed to expose method. Here, any fresh concrete top layer is washed away with plain water to expose those aggregates which are already a component of the cement’s mixture. Particularly, the cement’s topmost layer is stripped away by about 2 to 6 millimeters of the concrete top layer to expose the aggregates. It is the preferred technique in all commercial or major projects and large Exposed Aggregate concrete driveways.
When selecting an ornamental aggregate, remember always that the kind of material can determine the color range of the finish and can also have an influence on the project’s general cost and expense. Quite a few sensibly-priced aggregates can produce great outcomes. Apart from color, hardness, shape, size and durability, take a look at locally-available aggregates since they are be acquired easily and that makes them cheaper.
Some of the best effects can be attained for an exposed aggregate concrete driveway by using the latest methods like creating contrast with the use of different aggregates or alternating smooth surfaces with exposed aggregate finished portions. Others utilize strips of wood patterned stamped concrete as dividers to provide a different touch. There is no limit to the kinds of designs which one can choose from or create with. People can be certain that this ornamental method can provide great worth for the low cost they put in to getting that exposed aggregate concrete driveway.
Exposed Aggregate Driveway Colours
First let’s get a general understanding about the selection of Exposed Aggregate Driveway Colours. Choosing the right aggregate color, the correct form, and texture is essential to the aesthetic look of home and business precast concrete products. Selecting the correct aggregates and textures, mixed with a properly designed production and erection information, will help you attain a huge variety of design goals for your home.
Most professionals suggest that the architect call up all the local architectural precast concrete manufacturers for the early design points and also during the whole conception of the contract documents and files. That can ensure maximum utility and the good quality of the product along with its installation at the least construction expense. The precast concrete produced in a quality facility with factory-controlled conditions, guarantees an even, high quality building materials in the Exposed Aggregate Driveway colours, shapes and textures you desire.
There are many samples which can be viewed online ranging from light to dark colors. Many of the samples seen online will have dual finishes and every surface is guaranteed to last.
Choosing the Right Exposed Aggregate Driveway Colour
For your Exposed Aggregate driveway colours, the design flexibility can be adjusted to your needs for both the color and texture of the precast concrete by changing up the aggregate and matrix colors, the sizes of aggregates, finishing actions, and how much of it is exposed. Mixing color with texture enhances the innate beauty of the exposed aggregates on your driveway.
The colour you choose and, subsequently, each color tone signifies relative values. These are not limited by just those factors since they can be affected by the sunlight, any shadows, their density, the passage of time and the surroundings in your neighborhood.
Choosing a colour for your Exposed Aggregate driveway must be made during the lighting conditions the same as those under which your precast concrete will be utilized, factors like the strong sunlight and any shadows of normal daylight hours. The surface texture also affects its colour. Your home’s look is a process where the architect’s uses light, shadow, texture and color all at the same time.
What about choosing and mixing cement? Well the cement you use, along with the colouring agent creates the main color influence onto any smooth surface since it coats the exposed concrete layer. Since the concrete surface is properly removed and the aggregates are exposed further, the colours begin to initially show the fine and then the rougher aggregate colours. However, the colour of the cement will constantly have an influence on the general tone of the colour range. Most cement comes in gray, white, buff colored or as a blend. Every kind of cements has an inherent color with shading differences based on where they came from.
What about using the right colour pigment? Colouring material and pigmented admixtures are sometimes added to its composition to attain colors that are impossible to get with just the combinations of cement and a fine aggregate. Typically, white cement can create cleaner, brighter colors and is highly advisable in a coloured Exposed Aggregate driveway project.
Exposed Aggregate Concrete Driveways And Their Advantages
To get your own Exposed Aggregate driveway can be achieved by pouring concrete and simply taking out the external layer of cement paste to display the decorative coarse aggregate which was batched into the concrete mix or it was seeded onto the concrete surface itself. Due to its strength to withstand the elements and great traction, having an exposed concrete driveway is perfect for the majority of flat surfaces where foot and vehicular traffic passes. Some of the other surfaces applicable to Exposed Aggregate are; sidewalks, walkways, patio, pool decks and plazas.
An exposed aggregate concrete driveway may nearly be compared to any piece of granite or marble made better with some polishing: that dull, simple surface will be stripped off to show the special quality of surface that is underneath. In terms of concrete, this quality of appearance is in the shape of the decorative aggregate, from natural materials or artificially produced.
Now for a Short Background On Exposed Aggregate Surfacing. The decorative methods of creating Exposed Aggregate driveways and other surfaces started way back in the 1900’s. Many years prior to pattern stamping, decorative overlays and stenciling became more popular, although this technique is not in anyway out of the picture. An exposed aggregate driveway finish provides many advantages. In fact, a lot of modern contractors are discovering creative ways to work exposed aggregate to improved designs and finishes.
Having an Exposed Aggregate surface is also feasible on walls of concrete and also tilt-up panels. Such vertical uses are; decorative retaining walls, architectural building facades and sound barrier walls.
The Benefits of Exposed Aggregate Driveways
When you have an exposed aggregate driveway or other finish, this will help one attain great effects with sensible cost since only a little additional materials apart from the decorative aggregate and equipment besides the essential finishing equipment, are needed. Listed below are some other great benefits of an exposed aggregate driveway and other Exposed Aggregate surfaces:
1. All essential methods are basic enough for well trained finishers to easily specialize in.
2. The driveway becomes rugged, provides great traction and can resist very heavy foot and vehicular traffic and all kinds of weather elements.
3. You can choose from various kinds and sizes of decorative aggregate which are sold everywhere to achieve any kind of color and texture differences.
4. An exposed aggregate driveway of finish is very adaptable and contrasts quite well against dull concrete and other decorative finishes like stamping, stenciling, staining as well as integral coloring.
5. Maintenance is kept to a minimum since you only need to seal and clean it periodically.
How To Go About Exposing The Aggregate Driveway
As soon as the concrete has been poured, the decorative aggregate can be shown right away. Your contractor can use many different exposure techniques that are available, based on what look you want and how big you want your exposed aggregate concrete driveways to be. Just the top of the stone is exposed while the remainder is still forever locked in the cement. Generally, most professionals take away the surface mortar to a maximum depth no more than 1/3 of the diameter of the aggregate material like pebbles.
Cleaning An Exposed Concrete Driveway
It is the most simple and time-used technique since it will not need the use of any chemical substances or special equipment. One only needs to wash away the small layer of mortar on the surface which is covering the aggregate by using a hose to spray it with water and using a broom to scrub it all until the aggregate can be revealed to the depth wanted. But your timing when the process starts is highly important, and so this technique is sometimes more suited for aggregate driveways which are small. The method must start once the surface mortar can be washed off but not to overexpose or removing any of the aggregates. It’s possible to test this by slowly brushing away the cement on the surface from a little space by using a stiff nylon-bristle brush.
So how about utilizing a surface retarder substance? Nowadays, many contractors create an exposed aggregate concrete driveway by using a chemical surface retarding substance on the concrete surface right after the placing and finishing of the concrete. The retarder slows down the drying and allows them the flexibility to remove the cement paste up to 24 hours or even more, then followed by scrubs and washing with water. Such a situation is very applicable for big aggregate driveways and also in hot climates.
What About Using Abrasive Blasting Techniques? Some contractors can also get an exposed aggregate driveway after the concrete has set and dry by utilizing abrasive blasting techniques which can be sandblasting or shot-blasting. The only possible drawback to abrasive blasting is that it can crack the aggregates and make it look dull and lose shine. This technique is not a good choice for keeping the form and rich colors of the aggregate which is important.
Selecting Decorative Exposed Aggregate Driveways
All of the color variations of an exposed aggregate driveway are mostly based on the kind of decorative stones which are utilized. Choosing aggregates will also have a huge effect on the total cost of an Exposed Aggregate concrete driveway. Expensive aggregates are not a requirement to attain a great looking driveway.
The primary factors when thinking about choosing an aggregate are; color, hardness, size and gradation, shape, method of exposure, durability, cost and availability usually, the locally available aggregate is more cost effective.
Most people want the decorative aggregates which are richly colored natural stones like basalts, granite, quartz and also limestone, although one can also use manufactured materials such as recycled glass that has many colors. Others use seashells and other interesting objects can be seeded on to the surface mortar to create the effects.
Any pigmentation of natural aggregates can vary widely depending on their geological origin. Options range from delicate pastels such as pink or rose quartz, to rich hues such as dark blue or red granite, to earth tones such as sandy brown river gravel, black basalt as well as limestone that’s gray colored.
Just be careful to stay away from aggregates containing substances that can stain the concrete, such as iron oxides and iron pyrites. The size and shape can be very different as well. Aggregate size, which could range anywhere from 3/8 inch to 2 inches or more in diameter, mainly determines the how deep you need to reveal the aggregate. Also, aggregate shape affects the surface pattern and texture. Rounded aggregates provide the best coverage and a smoother surface while angular aggregates add more texture and dimension. Stay away from flat or sliver-shaped stones; these don’t stick well from the exposure process and will just fall off quickly.
Putting the Aggregate to the Concrete
Contractors utilize 3 specific techniques for adding the decorative aggregate on concrete slabs to create a nice Exposed Aggregate driveway.
Seeding the aggregate onto the cement’s top layer. It is the most widely used technique, seeding the decorative aggregate driveway onto the slab surface right after the concrete has been poured, struck off, and then bull floated. That requires sprinkling the stone or other aggregates with the hands or with a shovel evenly on the surface and then inserting it with a bull float or what’s called a darby until it’s entirely covered by a nice layer of paste made of cement.
Blending the Exposed Aggregate into the Concrete Before Pouring. Contractors also have a prepared-mix producer which puts the decorative aggregates into the concrete mixture while batching, this eliminates the process of seeding it on the surface after concrete has been poured. Although, based on the price of the aggregate you select, this technique can raise the Exposed Aggregate driveway’s cost compared to seeding because it needs the use of bigger amounts of decorative aggregate material.
Placing the aggregate on a thin topping: One more choice is to place a thin topping course of concrete which has the decorative aggregate material over the simple slab of ordinary concrete. This topping could vary in thickness from one to two inches, based on the size of the aggregates. Such a method is typically better if needing to use small decorative aggregates for your driveway.
Using Fine and Coarse Textured Aggregates
The use of fine textured aggregates has a big effect on the hue of any cement that’s white and light buff colored as well, it can also add more color tones as the surface is provided a shallow profile to boost the exposure of the aggregates. Using coarse textured aggregate creates colours which are more apparent when the top layer of the concrete is removed to attain a medium or deep aggregate exposure look. A few finishing processes alter the look of these aggregates. Processes like sandblasting can give the aggregate a matte finish, while acid etching may enhance their colors. Making them exposed with retardant substances usually leaves the aggregates unaltered.
Some Suggestions When You Need To Repair Your Exposed Aggregate Concrete Driveway
Any home or even building that has an Exposed Aggregate concrete driveway doesn’t usually need to have it repaired, especially if they are well taken cared for, although there are many reasons why repair might be needed for an Exposed Aggregate concrete driveway. One of these is weather and a main cause of damage to concrete which tends to undergo stress and hence gets broken down over years of exposure. Any repair work needed could be minimal, though a lot of times certain factors require the concrete structure needs to be removed entirely and replaced thoroughly.
How To Repair An Exposed Aggregate Concrete Driveway?
Minute cracks or some concrete chipping on the top layer is the most common complaint which homes suffer with regards to repairs to concrete driveways. Such damage must be immediately dealt with when they happen. When any cracks and chips on the surface of the concrete are not repaired as soon as possible, they could get bigger and could necessitate a lot of work to be performed. Small repair jobs necessitate just cementing in the damaged area or using other bonding materials which are sold in most hardware shops.
Any cracks and chipping of the concrete’s top layer happen mainly because of expansion and contraction of the concrete due to the changes in weather through the different seasons. Any heat also makes concrete stretch and the cold causes the concrete to go back and shrink just a bit. When there is quick heating and cooling, like during autumn days and nights, more stress on the concrete will lead to minor cracks to show and for small portions of the top layer to start chipping.
Minor cracks if not repaired immediately will typically become big cracks which go deep into the concrete. Such types of cracks require major repair work to be performed by professionals. A few of the usual reasons a concrete driveway will require major repair would include buckling of the pavement underneath. Fyi, a piece of concrete will buckle if the soil beneath the concrete surface goes down or up.
Buckling is due to water freezing under the concrete during winter which causes the concrete to rise up or bulge unevenly. In the summer months, any water underneath the concrete could cause the soil to subside, this will cause the concrete to create a small trough, the kind of trough that can crack the concrete from inside and make the durability weak. Within some years, this buckling can crack the concrete and lead to small bowl areas to form on the concrete
Ideally, the most effective course in this situation is to remove all the old concrete and ready the ground surface again, this time with reinforcements such as little concrete piles and mesh. After that, the Exposed Aggregate concrete driveway could be poured and allowed to dry and cure.
Consider Getting a Professional Sydney Concrete Contractor
After determining how much damage there is, you can decide to get a professional cement contractor to do the specialized work needed. As you go about hiring a contractor, talk to the contractor who did your first driveway if convenient.
When it’s not, call around for references from your friends and colleagues, or contact the local directory services and get a list of reliable contractors near where you live. Contact them and speak to them about the problem and get quotes and job referrals if you want. Be sure to check with the references and past clients. Choose a contractor that has years of experience and will not be too expensive to hire.
Sealing Your Exposed Aggregate Concrete Driveway For Extra Durability
Majority of modern homes today have Exposed Aggregate concrete driveways. Exposed aggregate concrete is applied since it is very durable and also very easy to maintain and aesthetically appealing to the eye. Most contractors use a broom to apply a finish and there are those who use other methods to seal high quality exposed aggregate concrete driveways.
The right installation begins with good quality concrete mixture. Concrete which is air entrained must be used. That means the concrete will have very tiny air bubbles within its mixture and should stay there even as it dries. Such air deposits may help maintain the durability and compactness of the concrete as it stretches and shrinks from any temperature variations. And, any water which gets inside the concrete will have space to expand as it freezes and not lead to scaling or chipping of the concrete.
An exposed aggregate concrete driveway will eventually become damaged because of water vapor that has accumulated from the freezing water although the majority are exposed to scratching and also exposure to de-icing salt solutions. Water vapor is harmful since water becomes bigger by approximately 9 times as it turns into a solid, like ice. Such an expansion will break the top layer of the concrete and lead it to get cracks. Being able to seal the top layer will greatly lessen the amount of water retention. De-icing salts can harm the upper layer and the steel mesh wires and struts inside the concrete. A good sealer will lessen the freezing and salt permeation of your Exposed Aggregate Concrete Driveways.
Ornamental concrete such as this could be used to rejuvenate the great looks of your house and especially the driveway. To lessen the danger of sustaining any harm a penetrating surface concrete sealing agent must be used. This aids to create a durable water barrier which is anti moisture and de-icing salts. This does not give additional glossiness or more sheen to the exposed aggregate concrete driveway and can likewise enhance surface traction and improve safety for pedestrians.
The Purpose of Spalling and Scaling
The terms; spalling and scaling refer to the breakdown which is seen on concrete layers. This top surface deteriorates or flakes away from the rest of the concrete. This will reveal the stone aggregates too much can weaken the whole structure over years. These concrete flakes and pits cause the complete deterioration of the concrete. The reasons for the damage are many, though they all originate to poor concrete mixtures and/ or pouring and finishing. This concrete is soft either from a lack of adequate cement mixed in, having an excess of water added or not having sufficient air entrained into it. As the water within the concrete freezes, this stretches and the surface of the concrete will crack from this stretching.
The Use of De-icing Salts In The Breakdown of Concrete. Since salts are used to melt snow and ice, the water gets into the concrete. When the overall climate goes below the working temperature of the de-icing substance, the water freezes inside. That raises the frequency of expansion cycles led by the freeze-thaw seasons. Whereas the de-icing salt alone will not harm the concrete, any expansion from thawing and freezing water will damage it. Those de-icing salts will also lead to the corrosion of any steel mesh and bars which are used in exposed aggregate concrete driveways. It will cause a further weakening of the structure and concrete poured into making your driveway.
Use Penetrating Siloxane Sealers to Protect Your Exposed Aggregate Concrete Driveway. Most people will not be able to determine simply by looking at an Exposed Aggregate concrete driveway if it is durable enough to undergo repeated freezing water contraction and expansion. For you to be sure of this, we must apply a penetrating siloxane/silane sealing agent. Such products seep below the top layer of all concrete and bond to it chemically. Any holes get filled and prevent water from penetrating into the concrete. But these also enable the concrete to exhale pressure and air and discharge any water vapor which may also be inside.
Some water vapor could also come up from underneath the concrete and should be allowed release. When it is not, then it becomes trapped underneath the layers and the water will become frozen and lead to the spalling and scaling that was mentioned. Stay away from silicone products, epoxies and acrylics since they won’t enable the water vapor to get released from below. Good sealing agents also leave an invisible wall against water. These won’t discolor nor change color, darken or alter the roughness or smoothness of your Exposed Aggregate concrete driveway.
So by now you have read and learned everything there is to know about the cost of Exposed Aggregate Concrete Driveways and colours available. If you’re living in Sydney and would like to get an Exposed Aggregate Driveway professionally installed in your home then visit the Contact Us page and get in touch with The Concrete Design Specialists. Some people may think that the Price Of An Aggregate Driveway will be cheaper if you do it yourself, but once you factor in your time and the long list of possible mistakes which could occur, you would agree that it’s best to leave it to the Professional Concrete Contractors In Sydney.