Welcome to our guide to the types of concrete patio finishes including smooth, broom, brush, stamped, pebble, aggregate, salt and stained finish designs.
A patio is a great architectural element to add to a home. It provides you with a convenient place to enjoy the outdoors without moving too far from the comforts of your home. It also adds to the value of your home if and when you resell it.
Concrete patios are a particularly popular patio type as they are not just aesthetically pleasing but they are also sturdy and easy to maintain. One of the most important things to consider when adding a concrete patio to your home is what finish to use.
When constructing a concrete patio, after the concrete has poured and as it’s starting to harden, you will need to finish it. Finishing is basically shaping and smoothing concrete to create an attractive and sturdy surface.
In this post, we’re going to look at some attractive types of concrete patio finishes that you can consider.
Types of Concrete Finishes for Patios
There are several types of popular concrete finishes that you can consider for your outdoor patio. You can choose the one that is most attractive to you and will fit your overall image for how you want your home and garden to look.
We’re also going to tell you how to maintain these surfaces to help you choose the best one for your lifestyle and needs. See more types of patios & materials here.
Smooth Concrete Patio (Trowel Finish)
The smooth concrete patio finish, also known as the trowel finish, is the most basic type of finish for a concrete patio.
To achieve this effect, a trowel is passed over the surface of the concrete after it is poured. The result is a smooth surface that many find attractive.
Take note, however, that trowel finish concrete may result in a surface that can get very slippery when wet.
Broom Finish Concrete Patio
A broom finish concrete patio is achieved similarly to a trowel finish, except in this case, what is passed over the surface of the poured concrete is a broom.
Usually, a stiff flat brush broom is used to achieve this finish. The stiff bristles are deliberately pressed into the concrete to leave marks. The result is an interesting, slightly ridged concrete surface.
This is a simple and easy finish for a concrete patio and it has the additional advantages of improving the friction of the surface and increasing the ability of the concrete to dry.
The ridges create friction between your shoes and the patio floor, decreasing the chances of slipping. Meanwhile, the patio gets wet due to rain or a spill, the ridges will ensure the liquids flow in one direction and drain instead of pooling like they would on a smooth surface.
To clean a broom finish concrete patio, you just need to regularly sweep debris such as fallen leaves off and then rinse the surface with a hose. If there are any stubborn stains, you should be able to get them out by scrubbing the area with soap and water.
If you are in an area that experiences winter or heavy rains, you might want to think about sealing your concrete patio to protect it from wear.
Brushed Concrete Patio
The term brushed concrete patio finish is often used interchangeably with broom-finished concrete. Both finishes require you to run the bristles of a brush or flat broom over the surface of drying concrete to create a series of small, parallel ridges.
What some might consider the difference between a brushed and a broom finish is, when you use a broom, you are standing over the concrete using the long handle to press the bristles into the concrete.
With a brush finish, you are crouched over the concrete with a brush in your hands, similar to how you would work with a trowel.
You can clean and maintain your brushed concrete patio similarly to a broom-finished concrete patio. For both types of finishes, if normal cleaning methods don’t succeed in removing the stains, you might want to consider power washing the surface.
Stamped Concrete Finish
To create a stamped concrete finish, a series of rubber mats are placed on drying concrete. These mats can come in a variety of patterns.
Many mimic the texture of natural stone or even wood or have more fanciful patterns. These mats are used to leave an impression on the drying concrete.
Because of the variety of patterns and textures that stamping concrete can create, it’s a popular finishing option for patios.
It can create an attractive surface that can suit almost any design style and it also has the advantage of, again, increasing friction and reducing the chance of slipping.
You will need to sweep and wash a stamped concrete patio finish regularly to prevent dirt buildup, especially in the “cracks” or indentations.
If the dirt becomes too engrained, you might have to pressure wash the patio. It might also help to seal the concrete after it dries and reseal it every 2 to 3 years.
Pebble Finish Concrete Patio
To get a pebble finish concrete patio, you scatter small pebbles onto the surface of the wet concrete. This creates an interesting-looking and textured surface that is slip-resistant.
You can create a deliberate pattern with chosen stones, or you can just scatter a mix of pebbles onto the concrete.
Once it is done, lay a board over the surface and press lightly to embed the pebbles into the drying concrete. You can also lightly wash the surface with water or brush it to further expose the pebbles.
After the finish is set, you should be able to keep it clean by just hosing it down or scrubbing it with soap and water. Consider sealing it as well.
Exposed Aggregate Finish
An exposed aggregate finish is achieved by stripping away the top layer of a concrete surface, exposing the material underneath. This creates a concrete surface that is not only nicely patterned and interesting to look at but also decreases the chances of slipping or skidding.
After the concrete is laid, the surface mortar is removed by either brushing and washing at the surface. Some contractors will use a chemical surface retarder on the concrete which delays the concrete setting to give them more time to expose the aggregate.
It is possible to get an exposed aggregate finish on an “old patio” where the concrete has already been set by getting a contractor to use abrasive blasting on the surface. Be aware, however, that abrasive blasting can fracture and dull the aggregate surface.
It’s also advisable to apply a concrete sealer to your exposed aggregate concrete patio. This will protect the surface and will also make it more attractive. Sealers will enhance the aggregate’s color and make the surface look deep and rich.
You should look for a concrete sealer that is both UV resistant and non-yellowing. You can also find sealants that will repel oil, grease, and water, which will help maintain your patio and make cleaning easier.
Salt Concrete Finish
A salt finish is a particularly good finish to use on the floor or surface of outdoor structures like a concrete patio because it creates a skid-resistant surface.
To get a salt finish, you apply a layer of rock salt on top of drying concrete. When the concrete is dried and set, you remove the salt by washing it away with water.
The salt will dissolve, leaving behind small holes in the concrete. The result is a lightly pock-marked surface that has an interesting and unique texture and look.
The maintenance of a salt finish concrete patio is similar to that of a pebble finish concrete patio.
Stained Concrete Finish
When you create a stained concrete finish for your patio, you use acid-based chemicals that can color the concrete.
Stains are different from paint because they permeate the concrete, getting into the surface’s pores. There are two general types of stains, stains and water-based. You can use stains on both fresh laid concrete or old concrete that you want to refurbish.
Acid-based stains will produce a concrete surface that is colored in earth tones, ranging from brown to terra cotta to a nice blue-green. Water-based stains, on the other hand, come in a wider variety of hues, from black and white to metallics.
A stain concrete finish is a good choice for an outdoor project such as a concrete patio. Most stains are both UV and abrasion-resistant so they won’t wear or fade when exposed to the elements. Be careful, however, when applying them as the stain could harm plants and grass.
You will also need to seal a concrete patio that uses a stained concrete finish. The sealer protects the surface and also enhances the gloss and color of the finish.
The patio will then need to be re-sealed every 2 or 3 years. You can also apply a glossy, clear sealant whenever you feel the surface is becoming a little dull.
Unlike some of the other finishes we discussed here, a stained concrete finish won’t “naturally” end in a slip-resistant surface. You’re going to need to mix an anti-slip additive to the sealer and apply it on the surface.
What are your favorite concrete patio finishes? Let us know what you like best and why in the comments. For more ideas visit our page about raised patio designs here.