3 Budget Friendly Decorative Finishes for Exterior Concrete – concretenetwork.com

Three Budget-Friendly Decorative Finishes for Exterior Concrete

By Anne Balogh, ConcreteNetwork.com Columnist

In this ailing economy, many homeowners are cutting back on remodeling expenses and forgoing some of their dream projects. But if your dream is to install a fabulous decorative concrete driveway, sidewalk or entryway that will transform your home and boost its curb appeal, you may still be able to get the high-end look you’re after without emptying your pocketbook. Instead of spending a premium for elaborate stamped, stenciled or multicolored concrete, you can achieve equally impressive results with these three budget-friendly decorative treatments. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also get a durable, low-maintenance surface that will last for decades. Now that’s true economy!


Exposed Aggregate
With an exposed-aggregate finish, you can achieve spectacular effects at a reasonable cost because few additional materials (other than the decorative aggregate) are required. To get the look, your contractor simply places the concrete and then removes the top layer of cement paste by scrubbing or pressure washing to reveal the embedded aggregate. Many types and sizes of decorative aggregate are available to achieve unlimited color and texture variations. Durable and skid resistant, an exposed-aggregate finish is ideal for most exterior flatwork.


Rock Salt Finish
A rock salt finish is a traditional and easy method for adding subtle texture and skid resistance to plain or colored concrete. The salt leaves a speckled pattern of shallow indentations on the concrete surface, similar to the appearance of slightly pitted, weathered rock. While the pattern isn’t elaborate, it has a distinctive look not achievable with any other method. Salt finishes are attractive alone, but are particularly stunning when used in combination with colored concrete and other decorative treatments. Even better, the finish requires few additional tools and materials to produce, keeping the cost affordable.


Brooming and Borders
If you’re on a tight budget, you can achieve impressive results by mixing stamped or stenciledconcrete borders with fields of less-expensive plain or broom-finished concrete. Using contrasting colors will give the surface even more pizazz.