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What Is Exposed Aggregate?

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Have you ever chanced upon a stunning exposed aggregate driveway or sidewalk, and wondered how such a decorative surface was achieved?

Well, if you answered yes to that question, then you’re not alone. Any surface made of concrete is traditionally thought to be dull and uninspiring. However, using the technique of exposed aggregate, concrete surfaces can be turned into decorative masterpieces.

Exposed aggregate surfaces not only serve to lend a stunning look to your property but also have several practical advantages as well. No wonder then, that it has become one of the favourites of builders and homeowners alike.

Today, we’re going to let you know all there is to know about exposed aggregate. Once you’ve gone through the following, you’ll know for sure whether this form of surface finish is the right choice for you.

Let’s begin then.

A Brief Guide To Exposed Aggregate

What Is Exposed Aggregate?

Eexposed aggregate is a concrete surface with the top layer peeled off to reveal the coarser particles underneath. The surface is made by first laying down concrete mixed with coarse aggregate particles, and then stripping away the top layer.

Exposed aggregate ideally serves a dual purpose: on the one hand, it looks much more decorative and trendy as compared to regular, bare concrete surfaces. The aggregate particles act to lend a unique style to what would otherwise be a visibly dull surface.

One the other, exposed aggregate also helps to provide more excellent traction on the surface. By increasing the friction level of the surface, it minimizes the chances of skidding and slipping.

Even when the surface is wet and slippery, the exposed aggregate can provide that extra grip which is needed for walking and driving. This makes it particularly suitable for driveways and poolside floorings.

How To Create Exposed Aggregate Surfaces?

1. The Standard Method

This is the most common method of creating an exposed aggregate surface. Here, the builders will first prepare a batch of standard concrete using crushed stone, sand, cement and water.

Then, the mixture is poured and left to harden slightly. After an hour or two, the surface is swept with a stiff broom vigorously. This leads to a removal of the topmost layer of the concrete, revealing the stone chips underneath.

2. Surface Seeding

In this method, the concrete surface is first laid without the stones, and then the surface is seeded or sprinkled with the stone chips. This can be done by hand or by shovelling, and the stones are left in a raised pattern on the top of the concrete.

3. Surface Topping

The topping method is used to convert an old concrete surface into an exposed aggregate one. Here, a fresh, thin layer of concrete with larger stones is poured over the old surface. This results in the stone particles sticking out of the surface layer, lending the aggregate look.

4. Polished Aggregate

The final method that many builders use is the polished aggregate. This is mainly found in interior floorings and serves a decorative purpose. In this method, after the surface has been laid, a grinder machine is used to level and polish the surface. Then, multiple coats of sealer are applied to create a shiny finish.

Benefits Of Using Exposed Aggregate

Apart from the decorative look and excellent friction it provides, exposed aggregate has several other advantages as well. In this section, we’re going to take a look at some of the many benefits of using exposed aggregate surfaces.

1. Makes A Surface Resistant To Skidding

We’ve already mentioned this briefly, but it doesn’t hurt to reiterate. Exposed aggregate provides excellent traction by increasing the surface friction. Such increased resistance to skidding makes it ideal for walkways, poolsides and patios, not to mention driveways.

The enhanced friction of exposed aggregate is due to the raised layer of small stones on the surface of the finish. The raised stone chips serve to provide the extra grip that’s characteristic of these surfaces.

2. Extremely Durable

Another significant advantage of using exposed aggregate is that it is incredibly durable and lasts a very long time. Since it’s basically concrete, a single application can last for several decades.

It’s also extraordinarily weather-resistant and can hold its own even under conditions of heavy rain or shine. All of this ultimately serves to save you money that would otherwise be spent in resurfacing.

3. Requires Less Maintenance

Since exposed aggregate is inherently tough, it’s very low on maintenance and doesn’t need much careful looking after. The occasional wash with water is enough to keep it shining and attractive.

To ensure that the aggregate surface retains its glossy look and feel, you’ll need to have the surface sealed. After the initial sealing, it’s ideal that you get it resealed after every three or four years.

4. Multiple Surface Choices

As far as surface decoration goes, very few finishes can offer as many options like exposed aggregate. Unlike regular concrete where you have to settle for the same bland look, exposed aggregate can provide you with a wide range of choices.

You can select anything from multicoloured stones that go with your home decor to shades that contrast with your house exteriors. There’s also a wide variation in the stone sizes and textures that you can select from.


When it comes to exposed aggregate surfaces, the possibilities are limitless. And now that you have a better idea about what exposed aggregate is, you’ll be able to work with your builder and get the exact surface that you need.

That being said, to get the best results, make sure you hire a concreter of repute who has extensive experience in working with exposed aggregate surfaces. Otherwise, you might just get more trouble than you bargained for.

All things considered, an exposed aggregate surface can work wonders to ensure that your property becomes the talk of the town.

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Published Date : November, 6 2020

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