To me, a patio floor must be practical even before being attractive. Plain cement just doesn’t do either. It is hard on the feet, often uneven, and definitely not great to look at.
This is why my choice of cover for a concrete patio is exposed concrete aggregate. It is attractive, durable, non-skid, and just downright attractive.
Going for the look
There is really no reason that you can’t leave your patio with a plain concrete slab. However, you will soon find how hard concrete can be, and that it may even crack. A concrete patio needs to be looked after and sealed.
Exposed aggregate is a perfect seal, and it offers the practicality and attractiveness I am looking for on my patio. Okay, so plain concrete is also mostly non-slip, but have you seen how unattractive it is? Plain concrete can also be a “little lacking in the style and fun department”, which can be remedied by covering it with concrete aggregate.
You can play around with the stones you use and the color of the cement itself. The covering can also be shaped to mimic tiles, which means an unusual look and gives all the advantages of the exposed aggregate.
Why not paint the concrete?
I really do like the idea of covering up the concrete on a patio with paint, especially in the creative style. I mean, what fun it would be to paint the equivalent of a mural on the floor of the patio. You can also paint tiles onto the concrete, which will be much cheaper and quicker than using actual tiles, or even the aggregate.
However, I’m not sold on the feeling this creates. I think that, if it’s concrete, then make it concrete, don’t try to pretend otherwise.
Then there is exposed concrete aggregate
Simply put, a concrete overlay is putting more cement over the existing cement floor of the patio. It is far more than that, though. A concrete overlay can “transform drab, grey concrete with a brilliant pattern and/or colour.”
The overlay can be “as thin as a feather”, or thicker, depending on what you are looking for. My preference would be for a slightly thicker overlay, using an exposed aggregate.
Durability and hardiness
Exposed aggregate concrete is hardy and is very good for areas that receive a lot of traffic. A back patio definitely has a lot of feet going over it day by day. You must also think about other traffic, though, like the barbeque, or outdoor furniture that may be moved around.
An exposed aggregate concrete overlay is extremely durable. Then there are children and their toys. The list really does go on, because the back patio will inevitably be one of the most used areas of your home.
On the flip side
The one thing I don’t want to do is to kid myself that exposed aggregate can’t be damaged. Given the right circumstances, anything is vulnerable. With aggregate, it is the stones that are more likely to be damaged by very heavy traffic, or things being dropped.
The concrete itself can also develop cracks or get chipped. I know that some kind of damage cannot be avoided after some years and usage, not to mention accidents. With exposed aggregate, this is most likely to happen much later than sooner, especially if top-grade cement is used.
If you use high quality stones, you can avoid them being damaged for a long time.
Because an exposed aggregate overlay contains small pebbles, it has a lot of traction. This makes it non-slippery. Even when it’s wet, your patio floor will still be safe to negotiate.
This is one of the reasons exposed aggregate concrete gets my vote. You can’t have the family slip-sliding away on the patio and the slip-resistant nature of exposed aggregate will help to avoid this happening.
When you use an exposed aggregate concrete overlay, the color of the finished look is mostly determined by the color of the aggregate itself. You can go for an almost monochrome look by using pebbles and aggregate of the same shade. You can also have some fun and go for an aggregate that contrasts with the pebbles.
I know that using exposed aggregate will give me the chance to choose stones and a color combination to suit my home, and possibly my imagination.
I am a little concerned that laying an exposed aggregate is more expensive than laying ordinary concrete in the first place. However, what excites me about exposed aggregate covering is that it is cost-affordable over time because you don’t need to maintain it or redo it for upwards of 25 years. This is where I would argue against using paint as a covering for a concrete patio, which will be the most affordable way of covering a concrete patio floor.
Paint may be cheaper in the short term but will be more expensive in the long run, because paint inevitably wears and will need to be redone. Painted floors definitely need to be cared for quite particularly, while you just spray and wipe aggregate.
For me, it’s a no-brainer when it comes to choosing an overlay for a concrete patio. Exposed aggregate is definitely the way to go, because it will offer me long-term affordability, a non-skid surface, and durability. And, of course, it will be so much more attractive.