Unveiling the true characteristics of concrete

Concrete is not new. The technology of concrete is not new. Both have been utilized for thousands of years. However, re-discovering the aesthetic characteristics of concrete is a pleasing trend that has re-emerged in the design community. Whether it is a water feature splash pad, sidewalk, pool deck, or a grand entry to a luxurious hotel, Bomanite’s® Sandscape Texture brings out the true potential of today’s concrete: beautifully utilitarian concrete.

What do most people see when they think of concrete? Unfortunately, most people visualize the broom finish marks on the surface of the watery cement paste. What a shame. Concrete loses its art and beauty at the surface and is seen as merely serving its utilitarian purpose.

To overcome this perception, Colorado Hardscapes and Bomanite® developed Sandscape Texture to complement their exposed aggregate systems. Unlike the exposed aggregate of the past, with its rough, uneven, and foot-grating surface, Sandscape Texture™ refined the process to unveil the art beneath the surface of concrete. It reveals what concrete is: a mixture of water, cement, fine aggregate (sand) and course aggregate (rocks).

Sandscape Texture is the uniform finish of exposing the fine aggregate of the concrete surface. This makes for an ideal finish for several reasons.

· First, the Sandscape Texture process is a delicate procedure that, when done correctly, results in a consistently textured finish. Poorly executed copies of this process show the inconsistent texture of deep and light etching. Sandscape Texture has a uniform finish with the same level of etching across the entire surface.

· Second, it ages beautifully. The walking surface of Sandscape Texture is the sand surface; when that is walked off, there is more sand, so it wears evenly. Other non-exposed finishes show wear by cutting down to that sandy layer. Sandscape Texture merely brings the finish to that layer to eliminate that problem.

· Finally, it holds color beautifully. Although Colorado Hardscapes recommends an integral color over a topical stain or dye for most concrete applications, Sandscape Texture holds surface-applied colors better than standard

finishes. The stain will typically penetrate past the sandy surface to the cementitious layer. The color will not walk off as quickly as it would in other finishes.

Creative variations to Sandscape Texture™ abound. Varying the etch level, seeding decorative aggregate per the Lithocrete® standards, applying similar finishes of Aggretex®, or even changing the integral color or the aggregate in the mix allows designers an almost unlimited variety of finishes. It lends itself well to special scoring, staining and theming. Sandscape Texture is ideal for pool decks because it is smooth enough to walk on with bare feet, but yet has an excellent non-slip surface. According to Landscape Architect James S. Ramos of Nuszer Kopatz, Incorporating Sandscape Texture colors and finish in our projects allows us to develop a level of detail that adds to the beauty and quality of our designs. It’s especially nice for pool decks and spray grounds and a great surface for bare feet.”

The trend by Landscape Architects to specify Sandscape Texture as their finish of choice is becoming more prevalent in Colorado. Words such as “authentic, natural, honest, and historic, with more the character of stone or other natural paving materials” aptly describe their love of the product. It has been embraced as a desired pavement finish in Class A commercial facilities and many high end residential projects. It combines the desired combination of aesthetics, durability, cost-effectiveness, and design flexibility. “In the current economy we have been working very hard with developers to get anticipated construction costs in line with their budgets,” said Gary L. Worthley, ASLA of LandWorks Design, Inc.I appreciate the fact that we can get a more refined finish with the Sandscape Texture™ and we have been able to reduce cost by eliminating integral color and introducing local colored aggregates.

Examples of this finish can be seen in the Denver Technological Center (DTC), downtown plazas, resort towns, high-end residential paving, and local shopping centers.

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