An exposed aggregate driveway is a surface that consists of rocks or stones arranged in an evident pattern. These materials are commonly poured into place and then trowelled to create a somewhat polished look. The textures and colours of these materials often vary, although the aggregate may be consistent throughout. Exposed aggregate driveways are easy to maintain as they do not require sealants for upkeep. They can also provide excellent traction when treated with sand for grit. These driveways are only appropriate in dry climates where rain does not soak into them readily. If moisture remains on these surfaces for extended periods, it can cause potholes to form over time.
These driveways are also more susceptible to damage from motor oil and other fluids spilled on them.
Occasionally, a driveway of the exposed aggregate style will have a decorative border, such as brick or stone. In addition, some homeowners choose to add an edging of hedges around their driveway so that it does not mingle with the lawn. Various types of rocks may be used for this purpose, depending on the look desired by the homeowner. Larger stones give a more rustic appearance, while smaller materials provide a more contemporary air.
Hardscape installation companies usually install exposed aggregate driveways in one day using several workers who complete various tasks simultaneously. First, these surfaces are installed, beginning with the shaping and levelling of the ground. Next, the aggregate is poured, trowelled smooth and often installed with interlocking shapes to avoid gaps between stones.
Fast-track concrete foundations are frequently used because of the speed at which they can be formed. These foundations are made using lightweight materials so that the contractors can pour the aggregate into place faster than if standard concrete were used. Once the foundation has cured sufficiently, workers use steel forms to contain it while it dries further before adding stone or another surface material for aesthetic purposes.
Once completed, an exposed aggregate driveway looks like a polished version of natural bedrock. Some homeowners choose to protect these surfaces by applying sealants or waxes, but this may reduce traction potential on sunny days when rain does not fall frequently enough to replenish these substances.
These driveways are frequently used in dry, arid climates where the air is too dry to support grass or other low-water plants that would otherwise grow around them. In addition, exposed aggregate driveways may be quite slippery when wet, which can cause problems with safety on occasion.
However, they also provide homeowners with an easy way to clear water from their surfaces after a rainstorm has passed by simply pushing leaves and other debris aside before it soaks into the ground.
Some designs for exposed aggregate driveways include brick or stone borders that make them more aesthetically pleasing without requiring extra work for homeowners who want their landscapes to look nice but do not have the time to tend to flowers or shrubbery frequently. These materials also protect the driveway's edges from damage when people or lawn equipment drive up near their property. Professionals usually install exposed aggregate driveways in a day using materials commonly found within 100 miles of most residential locations. Once complete, homeowners should sweep these surfaces regularly to prevent dust and other particles from dulling them.
In many cases, exposed aggregate driveways come with a certain level of risk that is simply unavoidable. Since they consist of loose material that is not part of a solid surface such as brick, flagstone or pavers, they can be damaged more efficiently than standard concrete when struck by high-impact traffic such as trucks and SUVs. While this makes them less expensive to repair than other options for heavy-duty use, they are not ideal for people who will drive large vehicles frequently.
Additionally, homeowners must be careful not to damage these surfaces when using lawn equipment that can cause gouges or gashes in aggregate granules. These stones may also soak up water quickly after a rainstorm due to their porous nature; this reduces traction potential on sunny days. Some sealants and waxes can protect against this problem, but they may also reduce traction. For many homeowners, however, the options available for material cost make exposed aggregate driveways worthwhile despite some hazards associated with them.