“I feel that exposed aggregate should only be by water,” read the comment on the We Love Decorative Concrete Facebook Group (an excellent contractor peer-to-peer group moderated by Solomon Colors Area Manager Todd Rose). This is a common sentiment caused by the most popular early applications of exposed aggregate concrete: pool decks. Fortunately for everyone, exposed aggregate has many more architectural uses.

The same characteristics that make exposed aggregate a solid choice for pool decks (and other water-adjacent uses) also make it smart in others.

Slip Resistance

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We all loved stamped concrete, but many textures and patterns have one major drawback: a lack of slip resistance. In wet weather, the slick and uneven surface poses a safety risk, especially for young children, the elderly, and people with mobility issues. An exposed aggregate surface, like a light sand exposure, will improve slip resistance and improve safety. This makes it an excellent choice for walkways, sidewalks, driveways, and other trafficked surfaces. Even when used as a partial element of a whole project – such as a step or border – exposed aggregate finishes can significantly improve the safety of the project.

Economy

Exposed aggregate is an economical decorative finish. Especially when you use modern retarders like Surface Deactivator, your labor costs are decreased versus other decorative finishes. This allows you to bid lower and potentially increase your profit margin. It’s also a win for the end user who can now get a decorative concrete finish at a lower price point.

Design Flexibility

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What if your décor changes? Depending on your texture, that could be problematic. Exposed aggregate, on the other hand, is simple and understated enough that it will work well with most designs and looks. That means that, as time goes on, styles change, and spaced develop, an exposed aggregate finish will still be attractive.

Durability

Concrete wears over time. This is inescapable. Wear and degradation becomes very obvious on stamped or broom finished concrete. Not so with exposed aggregate. While it will still wear, this it’s less noticeable because there’s no defined texture or pattern. This effectively lengthens the lifespan of the decorative finish, which is a huge selling point.

Exposed aggregate is a versatile decorative finish. When you focus on the right characteristics and features, it is an easy sell that will leave you and your clients happy. You will find that exposed aggregate has a place in nearly any concrete application, not just pools.