How To Install Your Own Exposed Aggregate Concrete

How to DIY: Step-by-Step Guide on Installing Your Own Exposed Aggregate Concrete


Exposed aggregate concrete is a decorative style of concrete suitable for use as a driveway, patio or walkway.

It is known for its robust and durable properties, appealing aesthetics, and non-skid surface which makes it perfect for outdoor applications.

If you’re a DIY enthusiast with a knack for home improvement projects, installing exposed aggregate concrete can be an engaging task. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process step-by-step.

Materials Needed

Before we start, make sure you have the following tools and materials:

  1. Concrete mixer
  2. Exposed aggregate mix
  3. Wheelbarrow
  4. Shovel
  5. Wooden or magnesium float
  6. Bull float
  7. Edging tool
  8. Concrete sealer
  9. Broom
  10. Hose with a spray nozzle
  11. Protective gear (gloves, safety glasses, boots)

Step 1: Prepare the Area

Start by marking out the area where you will be installing the concrete.

Excavate the area to a depth of about 4-8 inches, depending on the intended use of the concrete.

Then, level the area and compact the soil.

It’s recommended to lay a sub-base of compacted gravel or crushed stone for better drainage and added durability.

Step 2: Build and Install Formwork

Formwork, made from wooden planks and stakes, will help to hold the concrete in place as it cures.

It should be built to the desired level of the concrete. Remember, the top of the formwork will be the surface level of your concrete.

Once the formwork is installed, ensure it’s sturdy and firm.

Step 3: Mix and Pour Concrete

Now, it’s time to mix the concrete. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, mix the concrete in your mixer and add the aggregate.

Once the mixture is ready, pour it into the formwork. The process should be done hastily to prevent the concrete from drying before it’s laid.

Step 4: Level and Smooth

Use a bull float to level the concrete and bring the smaller particles to the surface.

This will also push the larger aggregate down. Then, smooth the concrete using a wooden or magnesium float to prepare it for the next step.

Step 5: Expose the Aggregate

This is the crucial step where the top layer of concrete paste is removed to expose the underlying aggregate.

Wait until the surface water has evaporated, then start washing the top layer of concrete with a hose.

This process can also be achieved using a specialty concrete surface retarder, which slows the setting of the surface layer, allowing it to be washed away easier.

Step 6: Edging and Jointing

Once the aggregate is fully exposed, use an edging tool to create clean, rounded edges.

If your slab is large, you’ll need to use a jointing tool to prevent cracks as the concrete expands and contracts.

Step 7: Let It Cure

Now, allow the concrete to cure. This process can take several days. To prevent the concrete from drying out too quickly, cover it with plastic sheets or use a curing compound.

Step 8: Seal the Concrete

After the concrete has fully cured, apply a sealant to protect it from stains, weathering, and to enhance the color of the aggregate.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure a proper seal.


There you have it, a step-by-step guide on how to DIY your own exposed aggregate concrete.

Remember, the key to a successful project is preparation and patience.

While the task might seem challenging, the finished product will add value and aesthetic appeal to your home. Always take safety precautions, and don’t be.

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