Everybody wants to decorate their homes in their own way, suiting their own styles. The inside of the house can be easily decorated, but the outside is tougher to do so. Using a decorative technique such as exposed aggregate concrete gives a house that extra oomph. This technique is great for patios, walkways, pool decks, commercial entryways, etc and is versatile.
Depending on the style or decorations on wants, various natural stones or beads can be added to the concrete. The decorations will be permanently embedded, with only the top of the stone or bead exposed. This look is achieved by peeling off the top layer of cement and exposing the aggregate.
This isn’t easy to achieve though. Getting that beautiful finish requires a lot of understanding and patience, but it is definitely worth it at the end. Installing exposed aggregate concrete by yourself is a cheaper option compared to hiring professionals.
Here Is How To Do It:
Step 1: Buy a wooden box that is symmetrical and even throughout. This is what will provide the concrete with its shape and base. The more flexible the more curve-shaped the pad will be.
Step 2: Place the box where the concrete is meant to go and secure it by hammering stakes along its perimeters. These will help in keeping the box in place while pouring the cement.
Step 3: In order to make the concrete level to the ground, dig down about 4 inches (this depends on the amount of concrete you have). The box will be just above the ground, attached to the stakes. Make sure everything is level when nailing the stakes to the box. Compact and level the ground below as well to create an even surface.
Step 4: Quickly pour in the mixed cement with the help of a wheelbarrow or truck. Make sure to get all the concrete inside in time, otherwise, it becomes hard to work with.
Step 5: Through a process called screeding, level out the top of the concrete. Take a strait board and run it along the surface. Repeat this until all the empty spaces are filled and are even.
Step 6: The next step is to bull float. It is the first smoothening step that brings that smooth concrete texture. When done right, the concrete will appear to be flat with no holes. Do not wait too long to bull float, or else the concrete will get hard to work with.
Step 7: Clean up the edges by hand-floating. This step is important for sealing the outside of the concrete and smoothing out any little bits of concrete. Repeat the entire process of bull floating and edging until there are no obvious lines (resulting from the initial process).
Step 8: Spray the surface with retarder next when you are sure that it is completely flat with no air bubbles. The retarder is used to keep the top layer of the concrete wet while the base or core dries out. Make sure to spray every spot evenly.
Step 9: Place a nylon sheet over the concrete and let it harder for around 10 to 24 hours.
Step 10: After removing the plastic, hose off the top. This should wash away the top layer to expose the design underneath.
Step 11: Remove the wood structure and cut the concrete into symmetrical slabs.
Step 12: Spray with sealant spray solution for a shiny finish!
It is recommended that you have an experienced concreter around just in case. If at any point in time there are difficulties, call a professional immediately. After all, exposed aggregate concrete is a beautiful piece of art, meant to be handled with care!