Exposed Aggregate Concrete: Types, Benefits and Disadvantages

Clay bricks, mortar paste, and concrete have always been the top raw materials chosen for most residential structures. Most of us hardly pay attention to the structural integrity and strength of the materials that are involved in the construction of our house. Even though these raw materials are strong and durable, they can’t be used in all areas within and outside the house, specifically in areas like driveways.

A driveway is a high-traffic area that withstands continuous car movements every day. As a result, if not taken care of, the surfaces can get damaged quickly. Yes, builders do take into consideration the surface damage that a driveway can suffer. But the solutions are not quite result-oriented. Perhaps that’s why many modern-day residential structures have driveways made from exposed aggregate concrete. In this article, Gharpedia brings all the details about the exposed aggregate finish, its preparation, types, benefits, and disadvantages.

First, let’s start with ‘what is exposed aggregate concrete?’

What is Exposed Aggregate Concrete?

Exposed Aggregate Finish
Exposed Aggregate Finish

Usually, the top surface of the concrete blocks, paver blocks, and overlays have a smooth and plain finish. It’s done using cement or any other sealant. However, such products cannot withstand heavy amounts of motorized traffic, which is why they are transformed into new material for construction, which is exposed aggregate concrete.

In exposed aggregate concrete, the top layer of cement is removed to expose the concrete aggregates that are coarse and have a magnificent beauty. These aggregates are crushed rocks, pebbles, sand, and other types of granular rocks mixed with concrete. Since they vary in colour, size, shape, and even texture, they offer numerous benefits for driveway construction. The preparation of an exposed aggregate finish is simple but requires a little bit of skill for perfect finishing.

Let’s see its preparation in easy words.

Preparation of Exposed Aggregate Concrete

Preparation of Exposed Aggregate Concrete
Preparation of Exposed Aggregate Concrete

The exposed aggregate concrete is prepared in several ways, of which we have discussed three in the section below.

01. Scratching and Washing

This is the simplest technique applicable to concrete, in which the uppermost mortar layer is thin and can be removed easily. Here, brushes with hard and strong bristles are used to remove the top layer until the aggregate concrete underneath is exposed. Once done, the surface is washed with water to clean off the excess dirt.

02. Application of Surface Retarder

In this method, a concrete retarder is sprayed on the concrete surface much before it can set and harden completely. Calcium sulphate–gypsum is the most commonly used concrete retarder. The arrangement is left for a day or two since the chemical delays the setting process while keeping the surface soft. This helps with the easy removal of the top mortar layer through brushing or pressure washing.

03. Abrasive Blasting

If the concrete has set and hardened completely, then the top layer can be removed only by blasting. Even though it delivers amazing results, precision is something you won’t quite achieve through this process.

Know the difference between setting and hardening of concrete-

What Are Different Types of Exposed Aggregate Concrete Suitable For Driveways?

Types of Exposed Aggregate Concrete
Types of Exposed Aggregate Concrete

The following are the different types of exposed aggregate concrete:

01. Chemically Stained Exposed Aggregate Concrete

In chemically stained, exposed aggregate concrete in driveways, the beautiful geological rocks are highlighted and enhanced using glazes or finishes.

02. Concentrated Exposed Aggregate Concrete

Concentrated exposed aggregate finish is one of the types of exposed aggregate concrete that replicates the look of a gravel or pebbled driveway.

03. Integrally Shaded Aggregate Concrete

Integrally shaded aggregate concrete comes with unique chrome options like light ocean blue, dark grey, light brown, and more.

04. Seeded Exposed Aggregate Concrete

In the seeded exposed aggregate concrete, only certain areas of the top surface covered with rock or pebble granules.

Top Benefits of Exposed Aggregate Concrete

Benefits of Exposed Aggregate Concrete
Benefits of Exposed Aggregate Concrete

The following are the benefits of exposed aggregate concrete:

01. Provides Excellent Traction

Even if the driveway has been washed recently, the exposed aggregates make the concrete surfaces anti-skid and rough. Therefore, you won’t have to worry about getting into an accident due to the extra slipperiness of the surfaces. Also, it will offer excellent traction to the wheels, and more safety to the car owners. Even if you want to take a walk along the long driveway made from exposed aggregate concrete blocks, there is nothing to be concerned about the surface becoming dangerous for people.

02. Highly Durable

The aggregates are added to bind the concrete and increase its overall strength and durability. Therefore, when exposed, these rock granules make sure to maintain the durability of the concrete pavers, regardless of the traffic movement on the ground. Since driveways are always exposed to heavy traffic, these aggregate concretes will help you improve the durability of the ground and prevent structural damages like cracks.

03. Adds An Aesthetic Appeal

No matter what, it’s impossible to deny the magnificence and appeal of the exposed aggregate concrete. When chosen properly, these pavers or blocks will take the appearance of your driveway to a new level, albeit in a good way. The aesthetic appeal comes from the aggregates used since they vary in color, texture, shape, and sizes. In size pavers, you can find small, sand-like granules while there are concrete blocks with larger, coarser, and monotone gravel aggregates.

04. Eco-Friendly Solution

The exposed aggregate concretes are eco-friendly because the rocks or small granules used to add texture are derived from nature itself. These are simply pieces of different geological rocks, like gravel, stone chips, colorful pebbles, granite granules, marble chips, and so on.

05. Cost-Effective Solution

Yes, exposed aggregate concretes aren’t cheap, and sometimes the cost can significantly increase based on texture, type of rocks used, finish, colour, and more. But it is a construction material worthy of investment as the driveway will become highly durable and resistant to mechanical and physical damage. Therefore, you don’t have to spend a huge amount of money on repairing the surfaces.

06. Availability of Different Varieties

The aggregates used in concrete have different appearances, textures, sizes, and shapes. Besides, they come in a wide range of colours, ranging from squeaky clean white to dark obsidian black. So, you will have several options to choose from and compliment the landscape or the residential structure perfectly, with precision and accuracy.

07. Needs Low Maintenance

One of the major benefits of installing exposed aggregate concrete pavers in the driveway is that the material will need almost no maintenance. An annual inspection will be enough to maintain the structural integrity and strength for a long time.

08. Highly Customizable

Exposed aggregate concrete gives a unique flair to your home. You can add a personal touch to your property by picking materials, colours, patterns, and designs of your choice.

09. Improves Home Value

Exposed aggregate finish improves the appearance and performance of your home, there by increasing the long-term value of your home. In addition, particularly exposed aggregate concrete driveways add to the curb appeal that may entice potential buyers.

Disadvantages of Exposed Aggregate Concrete

Disadvantages of Exposed Aggregate Concrete
Disadvantages of Exposed Aggregate Concrete

The following are the disadvantages of exposed aggregate concrete:

01. Requires Skilled Workers

If you are not experienced in a concrete job, achieving a perfectly exposed aggregate finish is difficult. So, it requires skilled workers or professionals to make exposed aggregate concrete.

02. The Material Can Be Prone To Damage

If you are using decorative stones, they are prone to damage. In addition, decorative stones can’t be durable due to consistent heavy traffic. Therefore, it’s necessary to choose high-quality materials.

03. Cleaning is Difficult

Exposed aggregate concrete cleaning is a little bit difficult as debris and dirt can get stuck between the aggregates or stones. So, its cleaning might be tricky and time-consuming. Also, you are supposed to buy a jet washer to achieve the best look.

On a final note, the exposed aggregate concrete has started to replace gravel, cobblestones, concrete, and other such construction items for driveways and pathways. This material has proven to be more than just a decorative piece, which is why it will be a great addition to your house in terms of beauty and value. Besides, you can go for custom aggregate concrete as per the requirements of the driveway and the perfect architectural setting.

Before you leave this page, read our blog on

Grasscrete: Sustainable Paving Systems | Types, Advantages & Installation

Image Courtesy: Image 3, Image 6

Author Bio

Sanjukta Ganguly – I am Sanjukta Ganguly from Kolkata. I have 9+ years of experience in content writing. I have written for multiple niches and genres like, health, travel, pregnancy, love and relationship, dating, hosting services, and WordPress, Press Release, Web Designing, Case Study, Thesis, Proof Reading, Academic Writing, etc. I can handle the work of 4000-5000 words daily.

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