While concrete is well known to be incredibly strong, exposed aggregate is significantly weaker. Aggregate is an ingredient in the mixing process that creates concrete, and is typically sand, gravel, or crushed up rocks. This aggregate is then combined with water and Portland cement, which results in concrete after the substance has been mixed, poured, and dried. Once mixed, the concrete can experience years of wear and tear without losing any of its noted strength. However, concrete has the potential to deteriorate and degrade in a far shorter period of time, especially if exposed to extreme elements or excessive human traffic (via machinery, vehicles, and the like).
Various potentials problems and pitfalls threaten exposed concrete aggregate. Water damage and an excess of salt seeping into the concrete are two of the most potent threats, especially during the winter. Concrete naturally is dotted with tiny holes that lead to an extensive network of microscopic pores and hairline cracks; if water seeps into the exposed aggregate during the Spring, Summer, and Fall when the weather is warmer, that water will become stuck in the concrete, clogged in the aforementioned vast network. While water poses a significant threat to concrete during the warmer months, this potential damage pales in comparison to what can afflict it in the winter. The freeze/thaw cycle is one of the most dangerous occurrences that can happen to concrete: when the water seeps into the concrete in the warmer months, it will remain there until it freezes in the winter, expanding and cracking the concrete in the process. Then, when the ice melts come Spring, the concrete will contract, cracking and crumbling even further. This situation can lead to costly and time-consuming headaches for home and business owners alike.
Another potential problem comes with too much salt seeping into the exposed aggregate during the winter, especially in places that feature salt trucks to help make icy roads safer. Too much salt seeping into the exposed aggregate can lead to tremendous structural problems. Fortunately, there is an easy preventative measure you can take. Simply apply a concrete sealer, like the Siloxa-Tek 8500, to the exposed aggregate. The Siloxa-Tek 8500, a water-based silane/siloxane, will act as a salt barrier, penetrating into the concrete substrate in order to provide comprehensive protection from water, UV radiation, cracking, spalling and pitting.