While in its basic form, concrete is realistically the same, at least for the most part, the fact of the matter is that concrete can have many different finishes. When we say finish, what we mean is the surface layer or what it looks like. Generally speaking, this also involves a special kind of texture.
What we’re going to do right now is take a look at the most common types of concrete finishes out there, and what they’re ideal for.
1. Troweled Finish
Perhaps the most common and most popular type of finish for concrete is the trowel finish. The trowel is of course a simple tool used in masonry, designed to spread concrete, mortar, and other such materials evenly. After the concrete is poured out, a trowel is used to level and smooth out the concrete surface.
The result is an extremely smooth surface that does not have any kind of texture. Trowels may be manual in nature or mechanical, with mechanical ones being best for large industrial applications. This type of finish is ideal for any kind of situation where a flat and smooth finish is required, such as for the foundation or basement of your home.
This is also one of the most affordable finishes that you can use for concrete, not to mention one of the easiest to accomplish, which is exactly why it is so popular. Simply put, this is nothing but regular concrete that has been smoothed out. Just don’t use it for outdoor areas where you need slip resistance. Because it is so smooth, it can be quite slippery.
2. Broom Finish
Another super popular finish for concrete is the broom finish. This is just like the troweled finish but with one extra step. Once the concrete has been poured, flattened, and smoothed in with a trowel, a broom is then dragged over it to create a texture.
All of those bristles on a broom create a lot of very fine lines on the surface of the concrete. While it’s not the prettiest finish around, some people do like the look of it, and moreover, the main benefit that you get with broom finish concrete is the fact that it is slip-resistant.
All of those little lines and ridges help to create texture that will prevent slipping and sliding, particularly when water and ice are involved. This is also another popular option to go with because it’s fairly cost-effective to execute. After all, once the concrete is poured, all you really need is a broom.
3. Salt Finish
When it comes to outdoor areas that are usually wet, areas and require a whole lot of slip resistance, then it is salt finish concrete that you need to go with.
This salt finish is achieved by inserting a whole lot of coarse rock salt crystals onto freshly placed concrete using special rollers. These salt crystals create fairly deep imprints within the concrete. Once the imprints have been made with salt, and the concrete is set, the salt is washed off using water.
For one, many people do like the look of it, but the main advantage is the fact that it is extremely slip- and skid-resistant, which is why it is often used for swimming pool decks and other areas that are often wet and see lots of foot traffic.
That said, it’s not something that you would use for normal surfaces such as driveways or other such areas.
4. Stamped Finish
When it comes to outdoor areas that are intended to be very decorative and good-looking, something that you might want to consider is stamped concrete. Stamped concrete is poured out and leveled with a normal trowel, but then, special stamps that contain patterns are used to imprint those patterns onto the surface of the concrete.
Not only can you imprint a wide variety of patterns onto concrete using these stamps, but colors as well. This, therefore, allows for a whole lot of decorative quality and aesthetics.
This is how you take concrete to the next level and turn your driveway or walkway into something that looks really nice. Stamped concrete is often used as a much more affordable alternative to natural stone, brick, or other types of masonry. You can make stamped concrete look exactly like normal stone without costing a fortune.
5. Swirl Finish
The next type of finish that you want to be familiar with is the swirl finish. In terms of beauty and aesthetic quality, this is definitely one of the best ones out there. As most people would agree, it looks very nice. Special tools are used to smear the concrete in such a way that creates these swirl patterns.
Not only does this look very nice, but it can also make it much safer to stand and walk on because those swirls do come with a bit of texture. This can be very beneficial for things like driveways that are often wet and require a non-slip surface to safely walk on.
That said, it can be very difficult to make this type of finish look good, so it’s something that is usually best left to professionals.
6. Exposed Aggregate Finish
The exposed aggregate concrete finish is one of the more unique ones out there. This type of finish is created by pouring the concrete onto a surface and then removing the very top layer of cement paste to uncover the decorative aggregate below.
Some of the most popular decorative aggregates include natural stones that feature very rich colors, such as quartz and limestone, granite, and basalt. In other words, when you mix your concrete, you would mix it with something like limestone. Then, when the concrete is poured, you would pull off that top layer to expose the limestone below.
Of course, this can end up looking truly fantastic due to the variety of decorative aggregates that can be used, and moreover, it also allows for great slip resistance. This is the kind of concrete finish that is very versatile and can be used for anything including sidewalks, driveways, patios, plazas, pool decks, and more.
7. Stenciled Finish
When it comes down to it, stenciled finishes are very similar to stamped finishes, as both are designed to impart both color and pattern onto the concrete surface.
The difference is that with stamped concrete, the stamp is placed onto the concrete after it has been poured, whereas with a stencil finish, a stencil is first placed onto the surface, and then the concrete is poured over it just like you would use a stencil for painting.
Although the results always don’t look quite as nice as with stamped concrete, it is much easier to do. Stamping concrete is not something that you can do on your own, whereas stenciling concrete is probably doable your first time around.
8. Indoor Concrete Floor Finishes
OK, so all of the concrete finishes that we have looked at so far are generally only used for outdoor purposes, ones that need texture. What we want to do right now is to take a look at three types of indoor concrete floor finishes that you may use.
We’re not going to spend much time focusing on them, but it’s important to know what they are nonetheless. The first type is polished concrete which results in a very high gloss and smooth finish that is super durable, good-looking, and easy to clean. The second type is a stained concrete finish, which is generally used to mimic things like marble, leather, natural stone, and other such materials. When it comes to decoration, something else that you can use is an epoxy finish, which allows you to choose from various finish types such as decorative chips, metallic finishes, and even mosaic patterns.
When it comes to indoor concrete floor finishes, we definitely recommend doing a bit more research on these three main types.
9. Other Concrete Finishes
The fact of the matter is that there are way too many concrete finishes for us to discuss today. Well over 20 different types. However, we can at the very least tell you what some of these other types of finishes are, although they aren’t as common as the main ones that we’ve discussed above.
- Color chips
Concrete is quite a versatile material, and it can serve many different purposes. But that said, as you can see, there are many different finishes to choose from and which one you choose is going to determine how good your overall end result is going to be.
So, before you start pouring concrete, it is extremely important that you determine which type of finish is best for you.