View or download our concrete finishes guide here
Awarded concreters of the year 2022
View or download our concrete finishes guide here
Awarded concreters of the year 2022
Awarded concreters of the year 2022
View or download our concrete finishes guide here
Awarded concreters of the year 2022
View or download our concrete finishes guide here
Plain Concrete vs. Exposed Aggregate – Your Simple Guide
Plain vs Aggregate Concrete - Conker

Trying to determine the best material for your construction project? Well, you should know by now that the choice of concrete finish can significantly impact the end result. When it comes to enhancing the aesthetic appeal, durability, and functionality of your surfaces, there is a big decision to be made between plain concrete and exposed aggregate. 

It always helps to first understand the differences and benefits of either option, whether the goal is a budget-friendly solution or a visually stunning outdoor space. In this simple guide, we’ll delve into the distinct attributes of these two concrete options and help you navigate the decision-making process.

What Are the Differences Between Plain Concrete and Exposed Aggregate?

Plain concrete and exposed aggregate are types of concrete finishes, each offering unique attributes and appearances. Generally, plain concrete results in a smooth, grey surface that serves functional purposes, often in areas where aesthetic appeal is secondary. In contrast, exposed aggregate showcases a textured and visually appealing surface, achieved by polishing the exposed surface and revealing aggregates like stones and pebbles during the finishing process. This gives it a natural and customisable aesthetic, making it a favoured choice for enhancing the visual allure of outdoor spaces. Moreover, the textured surface of exposed aggregate enhances slip resistance, making it especially suitable for areas prone to moisture, such as pool decks and pathways.

Regarding customisation, plain concrete’s options are relatively limited, generally involving basic techniques like stamping and staining. On the other hand, exposed aggregate offers a broader scope for creativity with a variety of aggregate choices available. This allows for tailored design approaches, resulting in a personalised appearance that aligns precisely with your ideal design. However, it’s worth noting that while exposed aggregate provides heightened visual appeal and customisation possibilities, it usually involves more costs due to the use of decorative aggregates and specialised finishing techniques. 

Benefits of Plain Concrete

Plain concrete, often referred to as standard or traditional concrete, offers a range of advantages that make it a popular choice for various projects. Let’s delve into the benefits that plain concrete can bring to your project:

  • Durability and strength

Plain concrete is renowned for its inherent strength and durability. Its solid composition makes it well-suited for high-traffic areas like pathways or pool surrounds, ensuring longevity without compromising on performance.

  • Affordability

If you’re working within a budget, plain concrete is one of the most cost-effective options out there. Its simplicity of design and ease of production contribute to its affordability, making it an excellent choice for larger projects that require substantial coverage.

  • Ease of installation

The installation process for plain concrete is relatively straightforward. This simplicity not only speeds up the construction timeline but also makes it ideal for projects with tight deadlines.

Benefits of Exposed Aggregate

Exposed aggregate concrete presents a distinct and visually appealing alternative to traditional plain concrete. The unique blend of functionality and aesthetics makes it a popular choice for a variety of outdoor applications. The advantages that exposed aggregate have are:

  • Aesthetic appeal

One of the most significant advantages of exposed aggregate is its captivating appearance. The exposed surface reveals a beautiful blend of aggregates, creating a textured and natural look that adds depth and character to any space.

  • Slip resistance

Exposed aggregate boasts a textured surface that offers enhanced slip resistance. This makes it a practical choice for main pathways toward or around your home, ensuring safety without compromising on style.

  • Customisation options

The versatility of exposed aggregate allows for a wide range of customisation options. With various aggregates available, you can achieve a tailored look that complements your design vision, resulting in a truly unique and personalised aesthetic.

Factors to Consider

When choosing between plain concrete and exposed aggregate, several factors come into play. Each project is unique, and understanding these considerations will help you make the right decision for your specific needs. Here are the key factors to keep in mind:

  1. Project type

Consider the scale of your project — is it a driveway, patio, walkway, or pool deck? Different projects have varying requirements in terms of aesthetics, durability, and functionality, and keeping these details in mind will help you make a choice between plain concrete and exposed aggregate.

  1. Budget allocation

Determine your budget for the project. While both plain concrete and exposed aggregate have their cost ranges, being clear about your budget constraints can help you narrow down your options and select the concrete type that aligns with your financial plan.

  1. Level of customisation

If you seek a more distinctive and textured appearance, exposed aggregate is likely the better fit, thanks to the range of aggregates available for achieving a personalised look. Conversely, if your focus is on functionality without the frills of aesthetics, plain concrete will serve as a good choice.

  1. Project timeline

It’s always critical to keep the project timeline in mind. Plain concrete’s straightforward installation process makes it suitable for projects with tight schedules, while exposed aggregate’s more intricate process might require additional time.

Final Thoughts 

Selecting the right type of concrete, whether plain or exposed aggregate, is a decision that can significantly impact the outcome of your project. Ultimately, your choice hinges on your project’s needs, budget, and design aspirations. Whether you prioritise a cost-effective solution, durability, or an eye-catching design, finding the right concrete option is easy with a reliable concreting service

At Conker, our award-winning team is renowned for our expertise in delivering tailored concrete solutions. We can guide you through the decision-making process and bring your vision to life — simply give us a call today to discover the perfect concrete choice for your project!


Epoxy vs Concrete Resurfacing: A Homeowner’s Guide

Epoxy vs Concrete Resurfacing: A Homeowner’s Guide

Choosing between epoxy vs concrete for your home’s floor surfaces?  If you’ve been contending between epoxy vs concrete for your property’s outdoor spaces, you may be confused by the seemingly conflicting opinions from different articles online, with no clear...

Spraycrete vs Covercrete vs Resurfacing: What’s the Difference?

Spraycrete vs Covercrete vs Resurfacing: What’s the Difference?

Spraycrete, covercrete, and concrete resurfacing — what do each of these mean, and is there a difference between them? Concrete resurfacing has emerged as one of the most effective, affordable, and efficient ways to rejuvenate driveways, pathways, and other outdoor...

DIY Concrete Driveway Resurfacing – Is It Worth It?

DIY Concrete Driveway Resurfacing – Is It Worth It?

When your concrete driveway becomes cracked or faded, it can be tempting to save on costs with a DIY driveway resurfacing or covercrete project. But are you really better off resurfacing your driveway on your own? Well-built concrete driveways can last a long time, up...