Everyone knows what a regular plain concrete looks like but some are not aware of decorative concrete which offers a practically limitless variety of finishes to enhance your home. In deciding which finish is best for your concrete area, consider three basic elements: pattern (with or without?), colour or colours and texture (rough, gritty or smooth?).
While there are more things to consider, it will help you a lot to have a good picture of how you want your concrete surface to look like. Let’s look at some of the popular concrete finishes:
After the concrete surface is cured, colours or stains are applied to it and then sealed. The staining is a result of a chemical reaction between the cement mix in the concrete and the stain. Various colours can be used to stain unfinished concrete. Earth tones are produced when acid stains are used while acrylic stains offer a lot more variety. This is a simple but hard wearing concrete finish but other finishes offer more visual interest.
Decorative aggregates are mixed onto the concrete and then exposed when the concrete’s surface is washed off. The final look of the concrete surface depends on the aggregates used, which can be small rocks, pebbles, quartz and natural stone. It’s durable, low maintenance, and non-skid but the texture can be rough on bare feet. This is a popular choice for concrete driveways, pool surroundings, patios and pavements.
This finish is created by pressing rubber stamps onto a wet concrete surface to leave the desired pattern. Usually, stamped concrete has the appearance of slate, natural stone or brick. However, there are many other concrete stamp patterns available and some even create their custom stamps. Stamped concrete can have variegated colours with the use of powder pigments. It costs less than stencilled concrete but requires more maintenance work than exposed aggregate concrete.
The use of stencils makes it possible to form on a concrete surface almost any pattern or tile design with a grout line. It’s an easier way compared to stamping to achieve a realistic tiled look. Intricate designs like logos and graphics can also be stencilled onto concrete surfaces. This is a quite attractive finish but costs more than other options and can be higher maintenance.
A decorative pattern is etched onto the surface after the concrete is stained resulting to the appearance of grout lines and an authentic look of inlaid stone, brick or tile. New or existing concrete can be engraved. This style can be applied to both interior and exterior surfaces.
This is the least expensive option for your concrete finish because creating it doesn’t need additional materials and the construction crew’s concrete finisher can easily do it. The broom finish is one example of a texture finish, where the surface has brush stroke or broom mark patterns.
If you want a unique look, consider combining two or more types of concrete finishes. Aside from the look, consider that some finishes will work on a certain area better than others and would therefore be a more practical choice. For instance, exposed aggregate concrete would not be a good choice for an interior living space because it’s rough on the feet. You may want to work with a reputable designer to help you choose a finish with a look that best fits the style of your home while being functional.