As a building owner, you may be faced with the decision of what to do about your old concrete, and you need some concrete resurfacing ideas. For example, you might need to refurbish your concrete patio. Most contractors will tell you that it needs to be removed and replaced – but is this really necessary?
The problem is there’s not an easy way to remove the old cement once it has hardened, so you are going to need to be creative if you’re going to find a cheaper, less intensive solution. Can exposed aggregate be resurfaced? Yes it can, and I’m going to cover eleven different ways of covering exposed aggregate concrete in this blog post!
Option One: Use A Surface Coating
This may be the best option if you have small cracks or holes in your concrete because it will keep water off of them and prevent major damage to occur from freezing temperatures (although this is not 100% guaranteed). It’s also an inexpensive way, although I still recommend using one that has sealant properties for more effectiveness. Some pros and cons of this approach are:
- easy to apply and affordable
- covers small cracks or holes in the concrete, preventing damage from freezing temperatures if done correctly
- Surface coating may not be enough for more major repairs.
- The surface is still vulnerable to water permeating through it and could eventually cause a wreck of your flooring underneath! This will also happen much quicker than you would think because there are variable sealant properties (depending on what you use) included with this type of option.
- If you have any electrical wiring, plumbing lines, heating ducts under the concrete, then I recommend that you avoid relying on these types of coatings.
Option Two: Use A Matting System And Sealant
Use a matting system and sealant to create the look of concrete without removing it all first, then adding fresh aggregate in just those places where you need them (typically around doorways or other walkable areas). The mats are durable enough that they won’t blow away from windy days – but they won’t work for large areas, and they have to be replaced or repaired when you need more aggregate.
The pros of this approach is that it is less expensive than removing the old concrete and installing new aggregate, would require no more time to complete (saving you money) and requires little maintenance.
The cons are that a matting system will not offer the same sound insulation from traffic noise or weather protection as fresh concrete – although there are some newer options in this category so be sure to ask your supplier which ones they recommend for these needs. The other con of using a matting system with sealant is that sometimes applying too thick can leave an uneven surface texture if applied over rough surfaces like brick while other times any imperfection in the base may show through because the mats won’t cover it very well.
Option Three: Use A Cover System
Use a cover system that is designed with the idea of using smaller amounts at a time – this means it’s not as expensive up front because there are no delivery fees (also good if your area doesn’t allow aggregate delivery). The pros are that it can be installed in a day or two and the surface is usually very smooth. The con would be that this method will only last for about six months before needing to cover again – which could still work out well if you want something temporary while your property undergoes renovations.
Option Four: Add A Mulch Top Layer
Add a mulch top layer – you can use shredded bark, ground up wood chips or other materials to create this look. You need one of these options in order for the aggregate not only be covered but also protected from erosion and damage (it will last longer than if it’s just sitting out there unprotected), and it’s a great way to add some color and texture.
The good things about this appraoch is that it will last for a very long time, but the cons would be that you’ll need to maintain the mulch on top of your surface in order for it to look its best.
Option Five: Add Pavers
Add pavers or stone on top of the existing aggregate. While most contractors say remove and start again, others say that as long as the structural integrity of the current slab is ok, you can use the exposed aggregate as the base to add on dry-laid or mortared stone or pavers.
With this approach, an important element to remember is that the original exposed aggregate is probably already at the height required, so make sure you account for as much as a 3 and 1/2 inch increase in height or the area. This is important to consider for existing stairs and doors etc.
The pros for this approach is that it’s the most budget conscious and time effective approach. The cons are that because aggregate is below ground level, there will always be a slight problem with water seeping out of seams of the pavers due to surface run-off on the concrete below.
Option Six: Cover With Thin Brick Strips
Cover with thin brick strips. This is a great option if you want to cover exposed aggregate concrete, but also like the look of an old style (or just don’t have much budget). With this approach though keep in mind that it will take time for moisture under and around bricks or blocks on top can seep into the exposed aggregate below, so you’ll need to make sure that the moisture can escape.
Option Seven: Paint It
Paint: If you’re on a tight budget and don’t need any major repairs done then paint can be the perfect option! It will definitely cover up the aggregate concrete so that your floor looks like new. The downside is if there are any spills or stain marks because they won’t come off easily as compared to other coatings. However, if you do decide to go with this option make sure not to use latex paints – for some reason those have never worked out well at all for me in terms of durability (I always end up stripping them down again within months)!!! So I recommend using oil based painters instead – just remember that these types may contain a lot of chemicals that can be harmful to the environment so make sure you are doing your research and choosing options with good eco-friendly reviews.
Option Eight: Use Tiles
Tiles: Another option for covering aggregate concrete is tiles. You can get them installed overtop, on top of or in front of the old finish.
This could be a great solution if it’s just for an area that needs a quick remodeling job as opposed to something more major like replacing all flooring throughout your entire house (which would require someone who does tile installation professionally).
The downside to any type of tiling is definitely budget because they do cost quite a bit more than other types such as paint but they’re also less expensive compared to new floors which may also be out of reach.
Option Nine: Flagstone
Cover with flagstone or other similarly shaped stones on top but again cover them in stucco to give it that luxurious Italian floor finish.
Option Ten: Artificial Turf
Cover with artificial turf and then cover it in a layer of concrete pavers, large flagstone or other similarly shaped stones to add texture for an even more natural look that will last long-term without any maintenance required.
Cover with a layer of concrete pavers, large flagstone or other similarly shaped stones to add texture for an even more natural look that will last long-term without any maintenance required.. This is your best bet since it’s the least expensive option and most realistic looking in terms if you want something temporary.
Finally if you don’t want any of the above, at least make sure that your aggregate is clean so people can see where they’re walking – this will help them avoid slips or falls on rainy days as well!
Frequently Asked Questions For Covering Exposed Aggregate Concrete
Can you resurface exposed aggregate concrete?
Concrete that is exposed aggregate is a decorative finish where the top layer of concrete is removed to reveal colorful aggregate beneath it. So if you have an existing concrete structure that is structurally sound, you can use exposed aggregate concrete to resurface it to look just like exposed concrete.
How do you fix bad Exposed aggregate concrete?
Acid washing will help to remove the surface marks. First, mix a 1:1 solution of muriatic acid in water. Spray the solution on the surface, then scrub the acid with a stiff-bristled acid-resistant broom. It may take more than one acid application to get the right look. To avoid damaging other surfaces, grass and/or plants, you may want to consider gelled acid to control runoff.
Should you seal exposed aggregate concrete?
Yes. These sealers, usually acrylic resins or resins with film-forming properties, are ideal for protecting against dusting, spalling, freeze-thaw damage, efflorescence, abrasions, and stains. The aggregate will also appear richer and more color-toned with a sealer.
Is Exposed aggregate concrete more expensive?
Since exposed aggregate requires more materials and labor than standard aggregate, it is more expensive than the standard aggregate.
Patching An Option?
If the issue with your surface is that it has become patchy with some parts of the aggregate lifting off in patches, one option worth considering is to patch a problematic area instead of covering it with something new or removing it all together. You can patch damaged areas by using epoxy mixed with new replacement aggregate to restore an even uniform surface.
Adding Pavers Or Stone On Top Of Existing Aggregate
While most contractors say remove and start again, others say that as long as the structural integrity of the current slab is ok, you can use the exposed aggregate as the base to add on dry-laid or mortared stone or pavers. With this approach, an important element to remember is that the original exposed aggregate is probably already at the height required, so make sure you account for as much as a 3 and 1/2 inch increase in height or the area. This is important to consider for existing stairs and doors etc.
Bonding New Cementitious Layer Over Existing Aggregate
This can work, but it is non-trivial and involves some steps. The existing aggregate must be adequately bonded into the existing cement to allow the steps involved (check by applying pressure wash to a test area at 3500psi to see if the existing aggregate holds up enough). If the existing surface is robust enough, it needs to be cleaned and acid-etched before applying the new cementitious layer. Check out this forum post for more details.
Additional YouTube Resources
How to Resurface Concrete – YouTube
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