If a concrete surface in your home, driveway, patio or pool surround is looking a bit worn out, you might not necessarily have to rip it up and start over. You might just be able to simply get it resurfaced, especially if it only shows minor flaws and discolouration. Once you apply a cement-based overlay, you can then decorate it how you please to create something beautiful. Concrete can be customised in almost limitless ways.
Colouring The Concrete
Firstly, it can be coloured practically any hue using a range of different methods. While some techniques involve blending pigment with the cement overlay mixture before pouring, other treatments are applied to the finished surface. One possibility is to tint solid concrete with either acid or water-based stains. Acid stains create nuanced, organic-looking surfaces because the acids react with the cement for a unique effect. Water-based stains, though, provide more even, semi-transparent, predictable shades.
When choosing one method over another, consider the look you're trying to achieve. To produce decorative graphic designs or illustrations, for instance, you could select dyes, rather than stains, just because they're so even and predictable. Dyes can be applied in several ways — brushed, sprayed or rolled — and they can be worked over previously stained or coloured concrete.
Mimicking Natural Surfaces
Alternatively, if you're interested in creating a surface that simulates variable stone, a better option might be varying shades of dry-shake hardeners, which are sprinkled over the unset concrete and worked in with a trowel. The right combination of colours can mimic the mottling of actual rock. Another possibility is to apply stencils to control which parts of the surface are coloured. You can use this method to create a border pattern along the edge, for instance.
Concrete is not only open to colouring in numerous ways, but its malleability accommodates texturising treatments as well. During a stamping process, for example, moulds imprinted onto the surface can dent it to resemble other materials, such as stone pavers or cobbles. These moulds are often initially formed from the materials they are replicating so they can create realistic-looking results. The overall impression is further enhanced when combined with colouring methods that capture the nuances of natural elements.
Creating Exposed Aggregate Surfaces
Exposed aggregate, which is particularly suitable if you are after a non-skid finish, provides other ornamental options. Possible aggregates to add to the cement mixture typically include crushed stone, such as granite, gravel, coloured glass pieces, shells and other materials. Particular combinations can produce beautiful decorative surfaces. By simply resurfacing concrete, you can reinvigorate it to harmonise with the environment, matching it to your home or to the outdoor landscape.