Broom finish concrete is a type of textured surface for concrete that gets its name from the tool used to create the texture. Broom finish concrete offers a practical, reliable, and inexpensive solution for enhancing the functionality and safety of outdoor concrete surfaces.
The parallel brush-textured surface of the concrete, created by a stiff-bristled broom, helps to improve traction and slip resistance. Whether it is a walkway, a pool deck or a driveway, broom-finished concrete is a viable surface option for diverse outdoor spaces.
Broom Finish Concrete: Pros and Cons
Broom finish concrete, like any surface texture, has a unique set of advantages and disadvantages that you will want to know before you decide if it is a good option for you.
- Improved Traction – The textured surface of the broom finish creates good traction that can help reduce the risk of slips and falls. This is a particularly good option for moisture-exposed areas like pool areas and walkways.
- Cost – Broom-finished concrete does not require specialized or expensive materials, so this is a more cost-effective concrete finish than stamped or stained concrete.
- Durability – Broom finish concrete is durable and long-lasting. It can withstand harsh weather conditions and sunlight exposure without significant deterioration.
- Low Maintenance – Broom finish concrete is easy to maintain with regular sweeping and occasional pressure washing.
- Versatility – Broom finishes are easy to apply on a variety of surfaces, both horizontal and sloped. You can finish many different types of concrete with this surface and can tailor the look in a variety of ways.
- Limited Aesthetic Appeal – Broom finishes are valued for their practical rather than aesthetic quality. While some people may value the simplicity of this texture, others will desire more decorative finishes.
- Reduced Smoothness – Broom finishes vary in the depth of the texture, but all of them are rough. This kind of finish can be hard on bare feet.
- Potential for Unevenness – Achieving a consistent depth in the finish is challenging over large areas. Inexperience in both pouring the concrete and creating the finish can lead to unevenness.
- Limited Customization Options – Broom finishes offer some variations, but they are all similar. You can achieve a wider range of results with other finishes like stamping or staining the concrete.
Concrete Broom Finish Variations
Broom finish types are similar in style, but there are some variations of the finish that you can use for aesthetic or practical purposes.
Standard Broom Finish
The standard broom finish is the most common and basic type of concrete broom finish. This involves dragging a broom with stiff bristles across the surface of partially set concrete in straight lines. This finish looks like small parallel grooves across the surface of the concrete.
Coarse Broom Finish
When you use a broom with stiffer and thicker bristles, you can achieve a more distinct pattern. This creates grooves that are deeper and wider, which offer better slip resistance. This is useful in commercial or residential applications like ramps or sloped surfaces.
Swirl Broom Finish
Rather than using straight lines, you can employ a swirling motion with the broom to create a circular or spiral pattern on the concrete surface. This provides a more decorative rather than just practical look.
Crossover Broom Finish
Using this method, a contractor can apply broom strokes in two directions, typically at right angles to one another. This creates an attractive crosshatch pattern on the surface, which provides both traction and visual interest.
Checkered Broom Finish
Create a checkerboard effect using strokes in different directions to create the distinction in squares. For this effect, measure out your slab and divide into it equal square parts in both directions. In some squares run the broom in a horizontal direction, in the alternate squares apply a vertical direction.
Custom Broom Finishes
Contractors with experience can help you decide which finish might work for your application. Often, they will have personalized techniques for broom finishing the concrete using variations in angle, pressure, direction, or spacing of the broom strokes, which will result in a custom look.
How to Achieve a Broom Finish on Concrete
Creating a broom finish on concrete involves a multi-step process. Read through these steps to become familiar with the workflow of broom finishing your concrete. This is meant to be an overview rather than a step-by-step guide.
- Preparation – Prepare the area where you will pour the concrete. This involves clearing the site, ensuring proper foundation preparation, and building any needed forms.
- Concrete Pouring – Pour the concrete into the prepared area and ensure a consistent thickness and level surface. Follow best practices like consolidation, floating, and screeding to achieve a smooth and even concrete slab.
- Initial Setting – Allow the concrete to set to achieve the proper consistency for brushing. The best consistency is when the concrete is still soft but the water has disappeared. This will vary depending on ambient conditions and the type of concrete that you use. In general, this can range between 20 minutes to 4 hours. A “broom-ready” surface will be able to support the weight of a person without sinking. Some contractors apply the weight of their hand to the surface. If they can’t see any imprint from their fingers, the surface is ready to brush. If you begin to broom the surface and the concrete piles up in front of the bristles as you drag it, it is not ready.
- Broom Selection – Choose an appropriate broom for the type of finish you want to create. Brooms are available with different bristle types: horsehair, nylon and also wire. These bristles are different widths and spacing to create different effects. Coarse, stiff bristles are best for more textured broom finishes. Soft bristles create a more subtle broom look.
- Brooming Technique – Begin at one edge of the concrete and carefully drag the broom across the surface. The broom should be slightly angled toward you as you move it. Apply consistent pressure and maintain a steady pace as you progress to achieve a uniform groove consistency. Run the broom lines perpendicular to any slope if traction is your goal, or if you need your surface to drain well, run the lines toward the drain. Keep the brush clean as you go, dipping it into a 5-gallon bucket and then shaking it off between every stroke. Always keep the broom clean from other dirt and debris.
- Finishing Touches – Once you have broom-finished the entire surface, make sure that the surface looks uniform and consistent, noting any missing spots. Use a hand trowel or edging tool to clean up the edges or create smooth transitions between areas.
- Curing and Protection – Allow the area to cure according to standard practices. This may include covering the area to ensure protection or applying a curing compound to retain moisture and promote strength development.
Ways to Enhance Broom Finish Concrete
Broom-finished concrete is not the most aesthetic finish option, but there are ways to enhance its style appeal. While this will increase the cost of the finish, it is still cost-effective overall.
- Concrete Coloring – Using coloring techniques to give concrete a more vibrant hue will help broom-finished surfaces look more appealing. This involves pigments that are mixed into the concrete before you pour it or by applying concrete stains or dyes to the surface of the concrete after it is dry.
- Decorative Borders – Consider adding a decorative border to the edge of the slab to give your broom finish concrete a more custom look. You can do this by applying a different broom pattern, stamping the area, or using another material like stone or brick to line the edges.
- Sealers and Coatings – Applying sealers and coating will not just help the longevity of your concrete, but it can also enhance its appearance. Sealers can deepen the color of the surface and give it a subtle sheen. Coatings like epoxy and polyurethane give the surface a higher gloss and provide excellent protection.
- Exposed Aggregate Accents – You can incorporate decorative aggregates into the broom finish surface to provide a pop of interest. You can embed decorative aggregates like stones or glass in strategic places or throughout the entire broomed surface to create patterns and focal point areas.
- Lighting – Placing lighting in strategic locations can highlight the sweeping patterns and textures present in broom-finished concrete surfaces.