Jump back 20 years and concrete was mainly used in garages and footpaths, and your choices consisted of grey, grey, or grey. Now, Melbourne homes and businesses have a wide choice of decorative concrete styles, colours, finishes, and looks. Top of that list sits exposed aggregate concrete and stamped concrete – and we’ll break down each option right now.

Are you in the process of a renovation or construction project?

When it comes to your choice of concrete flooring, you’ve got a wide range of decorative styles and finishes. Long gone are the days when concrete was grey, drab, and lifeless. In fact, with so many aesthetic options you may be struggling to choose between exposed aggregate concrete or a stamped concrete finish.

Both of these concrete finishes offer strength and durability, so there’s no “wrong” choice, only a choice that’s right for you.

Whether you’re looking to upgrade your Melbourne home with a modern driveway or transform your commercial space with new flooring, your choice will need to factor in:

  • Price
  • Durability
  • Appearance

To help you make an informed choice, we’ve rounded up every bit of info you need to know when it comes to settling the ‘exposed aggregate vs. stamped concrete’ debate.

Read on to compare these decorative concrete finishes and make the right choice for your next exciting project.

What is exposed aggregate concrete?

Exposed Aggregate Concrete

exposed aggregate concrete

‘Exposed aggregate’ is a loose term that means the materials within the concrete are visible from the surface. This leaves plenty of room for customising the finish, as you can expose a range of sturdy materials including:

  • Crushed rocks
  • Porcelain chips
  • Sand
  • Polished rocks
  • Marble
  • Seashells

Exposed aggregate concrete is a popular decorative paving finish, with the exposed top layer of a concrete base creating a strong and eye-catching surface underfoot (or under tyre). By removing the outer layer of ‘skin’, the resulting exposed aesthetic exposes decorative coarse aggregate – either batched into the concrete mix or seeded onto the surface in the form of small stones and pebbles, etc.

As strong as any concrete surface, exposed aggregate offers all the beauty of natural stone, with traction, durability, and ease of installation that makes this form of concrete highly appealing.

Exposed aggregate concrete pros and cons

Pros Cons
✔ Stunning aesthetic options with no two surfaces the same

✔ Strong, durable, weather-resistant surface across residential and commercial settings

✔ Cost-effective concrete finish for Melbourne construction projects

✘ Decorative stones may be more prone to damage

✘ Repairs to surface are harder than patching a traditional concrete floor

✘ May require more cleaning to remove dirt and debris stuck between stones

What is stamped concrete?

Stamped concrete is created by pouring slab concrete for driveways, patios, walkways, etc. Then, before the concrete has fully dried, pressing stamped patterns into the surface. These patterns may be repeating (e.g. a pattern of identical geometric shapes), or they may replicate stone through the addition of pigments (e.g to mimic slate, brick, flagstone, or even wood).

Stamped concrete is a popular choice for Melbourne home and business owners as it offers the perception of luxury without the cost. Thanks to the innovative stamping technologies (choose from a wide array of colours and patterns), you can replicate high-end materials, like natural stone, at an affordable price.

Installation is also easy compared to a surface of pavers and with the ability to mimic practically any surface – from marbled stone to rustic timber – stamped concrete is a low-maintenance and striking choice.

Stamped concrete pros and cons

Pros Cons
✔ Unlimited patterns and colour choices to suit your home or business

✔ More affordable than natural stone, brick, or pavers

✔ Enhances your outdoor space and adds value to your property

✘ More likely to develop cracks over time that require fixing

✘ Requires periodic cleaning and re-sealing to protect against damage

✘ Difficult to colour match repairs with your original concrete

Side-by-side comparison: Exposed aggregate vs. stamped concrete

Exposed Aggregate Concrete Stamped Concrete
Slip-resistant

Suitable to extreme weather

Low-maintenance

Inexpensive decorative technique

Good for: Driveways, pool decks, patios, stairs, walkways, heavy vehicle traffic areas

Unlimited decision choices

Easy to install

Requires regular sealing

More durable than traditional concrete

Good for: Interior settings, patios, garden paths, flooring, light foot traffic areas

Which concrete finish is more affordable?

Let’s talk dollars and common sense.

Naturally, you want to keep costs low whether you’re installing a new pathway through your front yard, or adding a large driveway to upgrade your industrial space. Thankfully, both exposed aggregate and stamped concrete are cost-effective options.

This is true of both their initial installation costs, as well as the lack of maintenance costs down the line (meaning you spend less on constant repairs and upkeep). In terms of price, aggregate concrete is typically cheaper, coming in at the lower end of a $50 to $60 per m2 price point.

That doesn’t mean you’ll be taking out a second mortgage to install stamped concrete though, as it’s also an economical choice, but you will pay more for stamping.

Once installation costs have been factored in, expect to pay around $120 per m2 for stamped concrete and $100 per m2 for exposed aggregate concrete. Keep in mind, your final price will depend on variables like the size of your concrete project, the complexity of the location, the skill of your contractor, and any aesthetic goals you have in mind.

If you’d like specific prices tailored to your Melbourne home or business, reach out on 1300 366 343 and speak to a member of the Concept Concrete team for more.

Looking to control your budget? Click here for our ultimate exposed aggregate pricing guide [2022 edition]

Which concrete finish is more durable?

In short – exposed aggregate concrete is more durable. Stamped concrete is more suitable for interior spaces, as it may crack under heavy pressure in driveway settings, but exposed aggregate offers superior strength and durability.

However, that doesn’t mean that stamped concrete will be crumbling into dust any time soon. Both concrete finishes are highly durable (they are concrete, after all) and can last between 5 to 10 years in perfect condition.

Exposed aggregate concrete gets the nod as the more robust option though with weather-resistant qualities that can stand up to Melbourne’s unpredictable climate, while offering resilience against hot and cold temperatures. This is why exposed aggregate concrete is favoured for Melbourne driveways, patios, and pathways because it can handle all forms of foot and vehicle traffic with ease.

Looking for Melbourne’s most trusted concrete flooring team?

After carefully considering the pros and cons of exposed aggregate and stamped concrete, we don’t blame you if you’re still stuck on the fence.

Both options provide lasting durability and the strength to stand up to the environment, foot traffic, and Melbourne’s unique weather conditions. Although exposed aggregate is more durable and affordable, stamped concrete offers a greater range of colours, styles, and aesthetic advantages.

With two products that can elevate your space for decades to come, the “right” choice will be one that meets your needs and budget. If you’d like help finding the right concrete finish for your home or business, let’s chat about your project.

We offer 100% obligation-free consultations and free quotes, so whether you’re requesting our prices or wanting to chat through your options, the Concept Concrete team is here to help.

Click here to get a quote on your next exposed aggregate or stamped concrete project