Project Planner

Design Ideas for Your Flatwork Concrete Project

Color Options

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Finish Options

Concrete is known as a versatile construction material that is used worldwide for many residential, commercial, and industrial applications. What makes this material unique is that it carries strength on the inside and displays beauty on the outside. The exterior appearance can be modified by the use of various products and techniques.

Troweling or Floating

Once the concrete has been tooled with a screed, concrete finishers utilize trowels to smoothen and fine-level its surface. This can be accomplished through manual or mechanical means.

To smoothen out concrete manually, a hand trowel, which is typically composed of a flat steel blade with an attached handle, is pushed and pulled across the concrete surface. When using hand trowels is not feasible, power trowels can come in helpful. These tools are typically used on large commercial and industrial projects. Power trowels resemble large fans, with the blades sitting directly against the concrete. They are available in both walk-behind and riding versions.

Edging

Edging of the concrete is conducted to provide rounded or beveled edges on the finished concrete. It can also create joints where needed in the surface to help minimize cracking. A specific edging tool is used to accomplish this task and requires quite a bit of practice to master.

Broom Finish

In order to make concrete surfaces slip-resistant, a broom finish can be applied. This is done after placement, leveling, and troweling of concrete. Once a smooth surface has been created, a broom is dragged across the surface of the concrete to create small ridges that provide for traction control, particularly when the concrete surface is wet. Concrete surfaces without a broom finish tend to be slippery and dangerous when liquids are present on the surface.

Concrete Texture

Aside from broom finishing, there are several other means of creating textures on the surface of concrete, some of which are listed below.

Exposed Aggregate Finish

Once commonly found in sidewalks of old cities, an exposed finish is created by washing the top layer of concrete away, which exposes the edges of the natural stone aggregates that are mixed into the concrete. This provides an attractive and slip-resistant finish.

In addition to the use of the normal concrete materials (cement, sand, gravel, and water), other materials may be added into the mix to provide exposed finishes with unique looks. Examples are rose quartz, limestone, dark gray or black basalt, red or blue granite, and even colored glass or seashells. The key with any of these additives is to avoid materials containing iron, which can stain the concrete. Also, it’s important to provide a high-quality seal after concrete curing in order to protect the surface.

Stamped Concrete

A common method of texturing is to use concrete stamps. Concrete stamps are comprised of panels with inlaid designs, which are placed on concrete while it is still curing. Designs may consist of brick, stone, or other decorative patterns to provide the desired look, sometimes mimicking other common building materials, but retaining the strength and durability of concrete. Once the forms are removed, the concrete surface may have color applied via staining.

Polished Concrete

Cured concrete, whether freshly placed or well-aged, can be provided with a polished surface for a clean and glossy look, ease of maintenance, and a surface that provides additional slip resistance over that of non-polished concrete. The polishing process is typically accomplished using concrete floor grinders that are outfitted with diamond abrasives. The grade of the abrasives, from coarse to fine, will determine the final smoothness of the concrete surface at the completion of the polishing process.

First, concrete is stripped of any existing sealer or coatings and any visible cracks are repaired. This is followed by the polishing process using the floor grinders mentioned above. Part way through the polishing process, chemical hardeners are often added to the concrete to provide future protection against water infiltration. Finer abrasives are used until the desired surface finish is achieved. If desired, the final step involves application of a sealing product to protect the concrete from oil, chemicals, staining, and moisture.

Stamp Options

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Size Options

Common Patio Size Options

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Common Driveway Size Options

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