Exposed aggregate concrete is one of the most vulnerable types of slabs to certain elemental and human threats to its structural integrity, longevity, and visual appeal. Concrete itself is an incredibly strong material that can withstand many years of damage and wear (theoretically even tens of thousands, though that is difficult to prove) without losing any of its famed and noted strength. However, concrete itself can also deteriorate far quicker than its potential would have you believe, especially due to human wear and too much exposure to the elements.
Exposed aggregate is threatened by a number of potential problems, such as excessive water damage and too much salt diffusion throughout the concrete, especially in the winter months. For instance, if water seeps into the exposed aggregate and concrete in the warmer months through the Spring, Summer, and Fall, that water will likely sit in the concrete, remaining clogged in the network of hairline cracks and microscopic pores that are natural to all concrete. While the water does not pose an especially serious threat to the concretes structural integrity in the warmer months, it can be disastrous and ruinous in the colder winter. With the onset of winter, that water sitting complacently within the concrete will slowly freeze, expanding as it does so to crack the concrete. However, these cracks will only become visible with the coming of Spring and the melting of the ice within the concrete now, the ice shrinks and much of the water leaks out of the cracks that have been newly created, leading to numerous costly and time consuming problems.
Similarly, exposed aggregate can be harmed by excess salt seeping into the concrete, especially in the winter months with the advent of salt trucks that make the 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 Siloxa-Tek 8500 to the exposed aggregate. The Siloxa-Tek 8500, a water-based silane/siloxane sealer, will leave a natural finish and act as a barrier, bonding to the concrete substrate in order to provide comprehensive protection from water, UV radiation, and salt damage.