When you are using precast concrete to bring your landscape design to life, select from a wide range of standard and non-standard aggregate options to achieve a truly spectacular design outcome.
Precast concrete is often used to create unique outdoor features and landscaping elements. Precast concrete offers a wealth of customisation options. SVC Products explains how using the right kind of aggregate materials in a concrete mix can create amazing results.
Standard aggregate materials
Standard aggregates typically used by SVC in their concrete mixes include stones of varying sizes sourced from local quarries. There are attractive options such as quartz, river pebble, bluemetal and granite, offering clients a wide design palette to consider for their projects. Experimenting with the size of the aggregates, whether coarse or fine as well as the base colour of the concrete mix provides additional ways to customise the final product to suit design objectives.
Alternative aggregate materials
For customers looking for non-standard finishes, there are other types of aggregates to make their concrete product look more appealing. Aggregates are primarily used to strengthen concrete mixes. This means aggregates should be hard and durable enough to meet strength requirements.
However, should a specified material not meet the required strength requirements, a standard gravel mixture is used to strengthen the mix with the decorative aggregates scattered across the top face of the concrete before setting. Once the concrete is set, the surface of the product can be polished or shot-blasted to expose the beautiful decorative elements.
It’s up to the designer’s creativity and imagination when it comes to choosing the aggregate material. For instance, even seashells, glass and mother-of-pearl fragments can be mixed to create unique finishes on concrete products.
SVC has used unusual aggregates on certain custom projects in the past, some of which are listed below:
Crushed red brick
The Beaumaris Concourse upgrade project (above) features bollards and street furniture incorporating fragments of crushed red brick aggregate. The resulting vibrant red colour of the concrete products is a distinctive feature of the new concourse and serves to connect with the existing character of the setting. Designers Fitzgerald Frisby Landscape Architecture chose this material to pay homage to the red brick pavers that were used as the main flooring element of the previous concourse design.
When you are looking to add colour to a concrete product, nothing is more flexible than glass fragments. Being a relatively stable aggregate material and available in a wide range of colours, glass allows the designer to create colourful details that would be very hard to replicate with plain concrete and natural stone aggregates.
Similar to glass, mirror fragments can easily be added into a concrete mix. Being reflective, mirror pieces add a shiny, metallic lustre to a finished concrete surface that can be further enhanced by polishing it.
Glow in the dark
Get creative with aggregates that glow in the dark and make a stunning impact. Photo-luminescent stone fragments are lightly opaque by day, and radiate a bright fluorescent blue or green glow at night.
There are generous sustainability benefits when you use alternative aggregate materials. Glass and mirror fragments are often made from recycled materials, reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill. In the Beaumaris Concourse project above, the crushed red brick used in the concrete mix was salvaged from the actual pavers in the previous concourse design, making the project an excellent example of sustainable reuse.
Similarly, various other materials can be repurposed for use as aggregate material, including recycled concrete, demolition waste material and reclaimed aggregates from asphalt and scrap tyres. Though these materials may not be as visually appealing as coloured glass, the environmental benefits of using them add a different kind of appeal.