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Home Improvement Tips: Common Poured Concrete Finishes
Concrete finishes greatly affect the overall look of your concrete pour. Choosing the right on for the job will depend on your skill level, the function of the concrete, and the aesthetic you wish to create. Here are some of the main finishes and how they are created.
A steel trowel finish is the preferred type for indoor uses. Perfectly smooth, it is carefully worked to produce a uniform finish with a trowel that can then be stained and sealed. However, homeowners considering this surface should be aware that a steel trowel surface can be slick when wet, so it is often inappropriate for large areas of outdoor use.
A wooden float finish creates a semi rough surface that provides enough traction for outdoor use. This finish is commonly found in most outdoor floors as it is easy to create as well as easy to clean. It is created with a float that smooths most of the surface of the pour, but does not create the refined, smooth look of the steel trowel finish.
A broomed surface is used when traction on the concrete is a primary concern. The concrete's rough texture is created by a metal or sometimes straw broom dragged on the surface before the pour has cured. Different patterns can be created by varying the ways that the broom is used, wavy and crosshatched patterns are common.
A rock salt surface looks like a steel trowel surface with tiny random pock marks. This finish is created for a unique look by sprinkling rock salt on the top of the pour and then smoothing it carefully with a trowel. After the surface of the concrete has begun to cure, the rock salt is washed away, leaving the distinctive marks on the surface.
Exposed aggregate pours are considered some of the most beautiful concrete pours. Aggregate is carefully chosen for this type of pour to be placed on top of the concrete. The aggregate is pressed into the concrete and then power washed to remove any concrete residue on the aggregate's surface. The aggregate can be sorted by color and size and can be completely customized by the consumer. Exposed aggregate is commonly used around swimming pools, where it provides traction and durability as well as beauty.
A travertine finish is used when the appearance of rough textured stone is desired. To create this look, concrete is poured and smoothed with a trowel. Then mortar is applied over the fresh pour and is worked with a trowel. The combination of the concrete and the mortar create a multidimensional surface that can be tinted before mixing or stained after the concrete and mortar has cured.
No matter which finish you choose, be sure to get in some practice before going to work on the final project. Concrete needs to be worked on before it cures, so keep in mind how long it will take you finish each surface. You may have to make multiple pours for a large project in order to have the time to create the perfect finish.