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What are the Pros and Cons of an Exposed Aggregate Driveway?

Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers

One of the choices for driveway surface material is exposed aggregate. There are various pros and cons of having an exposed aggregate driveway, with one of the benefits being its durability. There are also several color and texture choices, allowing homeowners to perfectly match or contrast the surface with their house. Unfortunately, it is difficult to put down exposed aggregate without the help of a professional. Additionally, it typically needs to be resealed every few years in order to continue looking good.

An exposed aggregate driveway is typically durable, which is not surprising since it is made out of concrete. This is usually a desirable trait of any surface on which cars will drive or be stored, and is also a good characteristic to have in areas with extreme weather, as it can withstand direct sunlight, snow, rain, and ice. Unlike some surfaces, exposed aggregate should last years with limited maintenance, as it is quite rugged. Additionally, it is nonskid due to the small stones layered on top of the concrete, which means that cars are unlikely to slip on the surface, even when it is wet.

Exposed aggregate requires a much wetter mix than traditional concrete.
Exposed aggregate requires a much wetter mix than traditional concrete.

Homeowners who want more color choices than gray or black should be happy with an exposed aggregate driveway, as the tiny stones on top can be various colors. This allows the surface to match the colors of the home's exterior, though it can also contrast nicely if that is the desire of the home's owner. The texture also ranges depending on the size of the stones on top, as they can be particularly tiny or larger. Another benefit of this material is that it does not usually show tire marks since it is composed of different colors, allowing it to hide stains easily.

A downside of an exposed aggregate driveway is that most homeowners need to hire a professional to lay the surface. This is because the aggregate needs to be poured, exposed, washed, and then sealed. The process can take weeks, and the typical homeowner does not have the knowledge or experience to do it alone.

While it does not take much maintenance to keep this type of driveway looking good due to its ability to hide stains, it needs to be sealed initially in order to look glossy. It then needs to be resealed about every three to five years to retain the glossy appearance. It is also advised that homeowners occasionally spray the driveway down with a hose to keep it looking new.

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Discussion Comments


What do you do with aggregate concrete drive that has faded in areas over the winter? I sealed the whole thing again this spring, but the color does not come back in several areas. The drive is only two years old.


Paving all the way as they won't crack and when you need to get underground you can still use original pavers at no cost and the color and texture remains the same.


Exposed aggregate concrete comes in a range of styles, and adds a lovely textured look to any outdoor area. The versatility of exposed concrete means you have a range of style and color choices to meet your needs.


@irontoenail - Yeah, you don't even have to use pave stones. I've seen some nice driveway designs where they just do a couple of strips of exposed aggregate and the rest is just plain concrete. They are probably much easier to keep as well, since I think if the strips are on the side of the driveway they aren't going to need to be resealed so often, since they won't be driven on as much.

You might even be able to find pre-made tiles that you could use to lay that kind of framing, so you can do the whole thing yourself. Do remember though that with a driveway it's often worth paying an expert, even if you do know how to pour concrete, just because you don't want to end up with an uneven drive (it could cost you more in the long run.)


@browncoat - Although I would agree with the article that if you want the entire driveway done in aggregate concrete you should get a professional in, I think if you go with driveway paving stones that happen to be made of aggregate concrete it will be much easier, so you might be able to do it yourself.

You can get those kinds of pavers at a hardware store. I think it's more expensive that way, but maybe it'll work out if you are able to do the labor yourself. It depends on what you want.


I really like the look of exposed aggregate concrete, particularly when a decent color of stone is used for the top and it matches the surroundings. It looks more natural and interesting than a solid concrete slab.

It sounds like it's a bit of a pain to get done and then to reseal it over and over. I always assumed that it would be one of the cheaper kinds of concrete paving to get done, but I guess if you want anything to look good and to last you need to do it right and spend some money on it.

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    • Exposed aggregate requires a much wetter mix than traditional concrete.
      By: podsolnykh
      Exposed aggregate requires a much wetter mix than traditional concrete.