Traditional concrete finishes have stood the test of time and are continually used and beloved today. Typically these finishes start with a standard concrete mix where the finish style is displayed on the surface of the concrete. These finishes consist of a light brush, magnesium float swirl, and slick trowel.
Light Brush – The light brush is created by first laying the concrete down with hand trowels for a nice smooth finish, and then running a concrete brush over the top of it. This leaves a consistent light brush mark that is aesthetically pleasing while adding texture for anti-slip traction.
Magnesium float – This finish is a timeless classic that adds a little more texture to the concrete. It consists of a repetitive fan swirl pattern. This texture is acquired by using hand tools called magnesium floats. This can also be assimilated by creating a border with an edger to create a clean picture frame which gives a more finished look.
Slick Trowel -This finish is typically used in garages and basements. The concrete is slicked down to create a smooth surface for ease of cleaning and to resist stains. It is typically used indoors where traction is not an issue due to not being exposed to the elements. This finish is created using steel trowels. This can be done by hand or by the aid of a motorized trowel machine. The result is a smooth, tight, concrete surface that does not let liquids penetrate very easily.
Exposed aggregate finish is where you see the aggregate embedded in the concrete surface. There are many different varieties of aggregates that can be mixed into the concrete and exposed. These varieties consist of Meramec “c” and “p” (varying sizes where “c” is around 3/4’’ and “p” is around 3/8’’) and glacial aggregate. Meramec aggregates are dredged from the Meramec river and are brown in color. Whereas the glacial aggregates are dredged from underground deposits left behind from the retracting glaciers many years ago. These aggregates vary in color depending on where they were dredged and are usually rounded pebble like. We pour and finish the concrete as if it was a traditional slab.
This finish is obtained by pouring the concrete with the customer approved aggregate into the concrete mix. After finishing, it is sprayed with a retardant that does not allow the top to set up. The concrete is then allowed to cure for an amount of time that depends on temperature and climate conditions. When the time is right, the top layer of cement that had been retarted is washed off is washed off exposing the aggregate that will remain embedded in the concrete. The concrete is allowed to dry and then washed with an acid mixture to further clean up the embedded aggregates removing the cement film. It is then rinsed again to help neutralize the concrete and is ready for a coat of sealer. It is integrated into the concrete mix inside the concrete mixer ruck creating a consistent color.
Colored concrete is a special mix where a color pigment is added. There is a vast spectrum of colors that can be added that will produce a range of different hues. The finishes vary on colored concrete depending on the application and the customer’s requests. Colored concrete can be used as a variation of the traditional finishes, a base for the stamped finish, and an added aesthetic in exposed aggregates. Whichever finish the colored concrete receives, it is sure to please and set it apart from the norm.
Stamped concrete typically is created from a colored concrete mix. The stamped pattern is made by making an impression in the concrete with a large rubber stamp usually depicting natural stone. There is a vast array of textures and patterns along with primary and secondary colors to choose from. The primary color is the base color integrated into the concrete mix. The secondary color is the release agent that is broadcast on top of the concrete to keep the stamps from sticking and creating the antique depth visual of the stamp. The concrete is poured and finished like ti would receive a traditional finish. At the correct time, the release agent is broadcast over the concrete in a consistent manner. It is then stamped with the approved pattern and texture. After the concrete has had adequate time to set up, the excess release is washed up. Only a small portion of the release color shows up in the final product. The base color is the predominant color seen and the release is the accent color evident in the texture of the pattern. After it is cleaned up, it is ready for sealer where the colors are really brought out and become vivid if desired.
Stained concrete typically begins as an existing slab or floor that is the traditional light grey mix. This base is used where an array of colors can be chosen to permanently stain the concrete. The concrete is first cleaned and prepped to accept the stain. Anything that will not be stained will get taped and plastic sheeted off to protect from over spray. The concrete is then sprayed with stain, typically one or two coats will produce the desired color. It is then allowed to dry and is recommended to receive a coat of sealer to help protect and preserve the stain.