Concrete finishes are becoming increasingly popular in interior and exterior design and for a good reason. These add a contemporary, industrial feel or a seamless, minimalistic look, offer durability and low maintenance, and can be customized with various colors and textures!
From sidewalks and driveways to patios and pool decks, concrete is a versatile material that can be used for many projects. And one of the most critical aspects of using concrete is choosing the right finish.
11 Types of Concrete Finishes
A freshly laid concrete surface can have a variety of finishes with various looks and textures. For instance, the finish used on concrete flooring in a parking lot is distinct from the finish used on concrete columns.
Here are some of the most common types of concrete finishes:
Looking for a cost-effective and durable finish for your concrete surface? Consider trowelled concrete finishes. They offer a simple, straightforward appearance that can be customized with various staining or dyeing techniques, allowing a range of colors and styles.
Some trowelled finishes are polished to create a smooth, high-gloss surface, while others may be left with a slightly rougher texture for improved slip resistance. Trowelled concrete finishes are commonly used for indoor floors, driveways, sidewalks, and other applications where a smooth surface is much preferred.
The finish is achieved by carefully trowelling the concrete to eliminate any bumps, ridges, or other imperfections that can be created during the pouring process. This results in a clean, consistent surface that is easy to clean and maintain.
2. Off-form Finish
Off-form concrete finishes are commonly observed in architectural features: feature walls, columns, retaining walls, and decorative finishes on facades and interiors. They are often chosen for their natural appearance and texture, which can help to create a sense of warmth and character in a space.
The texture and color of an off-form concrete finish can be customized by using different types of timber for the formwork or by adding pigments or stains to the concrete mix.
Off-form concrete finishes are generally considered one of the more expensive finishes for concrete surfaces due to the cost of the timber and the additional labor required for formwork construction.
But since the resulting finish is durable and long-lasting, it is a popular choice for residential and commercial projects.
3. Broom Concrete Finishes
Broom concrete finishes (AKA broom-finished or brushed concrete) involve using a stiff-bristled broom to create a textured surface on the surface of the concrete. The broom is typically dragged across the surface of the concrete while it is still wet, leaving behind a series of shallow grooves or lines in the surface.
The resulting texture can help to provide traction and prevent slipping when the concrete is used for outdoor surfaces such as patios, sidewalks, and driveways. Broom-finished concrete is also commonly used in indoor surfaces such as basement floors, warehouses, and commercial facilities.
Aside from its functional benefit, broom-finished concrete can also add visual interest to the surface of the concrete. The lines and grooves created by the broom can give the concrete a more rustic or textured appearance, which can be further enhanced by staining or coloring.
4. Swirl Concrete Finish
Think of the swirl concrete finish as a more sophisticated variation of the broom concrete finish. Instead of a broom, a float or trowel is used to create uniform, swirled imprints or arc patterns on the surface of the wet concrete.
The result? You'll get a subtle yet visually appealing design.
The swirl concrete finish is frequently used for outdoor projects such as driveways and patios. Similar to the broom finish, it offers excellent slip resistance capabilities, especially during wet weather.
5. Polished Concrete
A polished finish is an ideal choice if you want to give your concrete finish a gleaming, glossy appearance. This involves applying an additive like varnish or resin to a honed product, which creates a transparent, lustrous layer that enhances the beauty of the concrete and makes it more visually appealing.
The intricate process involves blasting, honing, and polishing the concrete, making it a costly option that takes quite some time. Nevertheless, the stunning result is worth it!
Polished concrete surfaces are incredibly long-lasting and require little care. It also aims to improve natural illumination in buildings by having high reflectivity, which saves energy by eliminating artificial lighting.
6. Buffed Finish
Although less popular than other concrete finishes above, a buffed concrete finish is a perfect choice if you want an authentic style (glossy, polished appearance).
For reference, the term ❝buffing❞ refers to treating an off-mold concrete surface with a polish additive, resulting in extra concrete protection and a lustrous shine. It is then buffed with a buffing machine or a hand-held buffer. The process can be repeated multiple times to achieve a higher level of glossiness.
It can be used for indoor and outdoor surfaces, including floors, walls, and countertops.
7. Honed Finish
A honed concrete finish is a perfect choice if you're a big fan of sleek and even surfaces. It provides a smooth, matte surface with the visual interest of an exposed aggregate finish.
The concrete product must first undergo shot-blasting to remove the top surface layer to achieve a honed finish. Then, a grinding disc is used to grind down the surface further until it is smooth.
Due to the additional labor involved, honed products are typically more expensive and labor-intensive than off-mold or shot-blasted finishes. It is a preferred option for various applications, including floors, walls, and countertops.
8. Shot-blasted Finish
The Shot-Blasted Finish is achieved by using small steel shots or recycled glass fragments to blast the surface of the concrete– creating a rough, textured finish by removing the smooth top layer. This technique exposes the stone or aggregate material within the concrete mix, adding an extra design detail.
One of the advantages of choosing a shot-blasted finish is the ability to customize the level of blasting to achieve a light, medium, or heavy blast.
A light blast reveals only a tiny portion of the smooth surface, while a heavy blow creates a highly textured surface that exposes a significant amount of the aggregate stone detail.
This choice is popular for outdoor applications such as driveways, walkways, and patios, thanks to its excellent slip resistance and longevity.
9. Exposed Aggregate Finish
This next surface finish for concrete showcases the aggregates used in the concrete mix, hence the name Exposed Aggregate Finish. It is an attractive choice if you prioritize visual interest.
With this finish, the top layer of cement is washed away to reveal the aggregate material, resulting in a visually appealing surface. Various aggregates can be used for this type of concrete finish, including attractive stones, seashells, colored glass, granite, and more.
It also provides a safe, anti-slip surface, which makes it an excellent choice for sidewalks, porches, and other outdoor applications.
10. Stamped Concrete Finish
Stamping is a popular technique to enhance your regular concrete surface's aesthetics and decorative purposes. It involves adding texture and unique designs to the concrete surface using specialized panels with specific patterns or designs, which are then transferred onto the concrete surface.
With this technique, you can mimic the look of natural materials such as stone, brick, or wood without the associated costs and maintenance requirements of those materials.
11. Salt Concrete Finish
Lastly, a salt finish is a type of decorative concrete finish that involves applying rock salt to the surface of uncured concrete– creating a finely textured texture.
It is commonly utilized in wet areas, like swimming pools, due to its slip-resistant surface. (Related article: Elegant Glass Pool Fencing for Modern Homeowners: Is it Worth It?)
Before you start pouring concrete, knowing which type of concrete finish would be the best choice for your home improvement project is essential!
Concrete is a very versatile material that may be used for various applications. And with multiple finishes to choose from, remember that the one you select will significantly affect the result.
(Related article: What are concrete footers?)