For your vision to truly come to life, aesthetic versatility is essential. While precast concrete itself brings unparalleled strength, durability, resilience, and cost savings to any construction project, precast concrete finishes and textures allow aesthetic creativity to steal the show.
By combining color, exposure, texture, aggregate grade, and sand type, a custom finish gives your precast concrete structure the unique look it needs to stand out. To gain a full understanding of how these factors come to together in harmony, let’s explore the various techniques and exposures associated with each.
Form Line/Form Finish
If you are reading this, you know that precast concrete is produced in custom molds and forms. When these forms and molds are stripped away, the cured produced is a smooth, raw finish. From an economical sense, this look is a smart choice. Form-lined precast concrete requires no additional processing beyond curing. However, it does possess its vulnerabilities.
Although precast concrete greatly increases the the life concrete with live without being exposed to weathering, this inevitable effect will show its power at some point. Furthermore, weathering is rarely uniform, causing form finish concrete to see random spots of erosion.
When it comes to repairs – rare among precast concrete products – smooth textures are harder to fix. Additionally, new repair material stands out more on flat, smooth surfaces.
Using a diluted solution of hydrochloric acid, acid etching involves dissolving the surface of the concrete and exposing the fine and coarse aggregate. Commonly used for those looking for a light to medium exposure, acid etching is extremely popular among precast concrete finishes.
Acid typically darkens aggregate, so pink, yellow, and brown aggregate tend to be the most forgiving when looking for a uniform look. When it comes to weathering, acid-etched precast concrete weathers better than form lined concrete, however, it is more vulnerable to efflorescence – the mitigation of salt to the concrete surface. Fortunately, at Taracon Precast, we nearly eliminate the potential for efflorescence through sufficient curing, use of supplementary cementitious materials, and proper rinsing.
If the owner of a building or structure wants to remove years of environmental debris buildup, acid etching not only eliminates the debris, but gives the structure an entirely new aesthetic.
As the name implies, sand-blasting is the removal of the concrete surface by way of high velocity sand particles. Using silica sand, paste, fine aggregate, and coarse aggregate are all “blasted” away, leaving a flat, dull, matte finish.
Due to the greater exposure caused by sand-blasting, water runoff is channeled more evenly and weathering is reduced. Repairs are also made easier due to the abrasive nature of the concrete. Unfortunately, because sand-blasting requires more time than most techniques, it possesses a higher price tag.
In some cases, architects are looking to achieve the look of a different material, but with the many unmatched benefits of precast concrete. In these circumstances, veneers are cast into the product to give the look of your desired material.
Eliminating the need for time-consuming, expensive structural frames, veneer panels can be installed quickly and efficiently. With shorter installation time than hand set brick, and better moisture control, brick veneer is our most popular veneer. Other popular veneers include granite, marble, and limestone.
In order to achieve an untarnished, exposed aggregate finish, surface retarders are used to chemically delay the set of the surface mortar. By inhibiting the hydration process, down to a specific depth, the underlying concrete hardens properly and allows for easy removal of the surface mortar.
When combined with custom color elements, although coarse aggregate inherently possesses many desirable color schemes, architectural precast concrete creates a harmony of aesthetic and functionality. With the ability to achieve your vision through custom precast concrete finishes, we, at Taracon Precast, make sure your vision is nothing short of perfect.