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Salt Finish Concrete (Pros and Cons & Designs)

Here we share out salt finish concrete guide including what is, different types, the pros and cons, cost, and its edge over a concrete broom finish.
Ourdoor salt finish concrete patio with TV enclosureThere are many finishes available for concrete surfaces. One such method is a salt finish over concrete. In this article, we’ll take a look at how it can be used by homeowners.

What Is Salt Finish Concrete?

Close up of salt concrete finishSalt finish concrete is hands down a great and cost-friendly way to dress up what would normally be a regular or average concrete flatwork. 

As the name suggests, the material consists of salt in its finish. It is something that can be achieved by pressing rock salt, preferably that of course texture, onto the surface of freshly laid concrete and then waiting for said concrete to cure and be set out.

Once the concrete has been set and once all is done with, the salt is then washed away. Salt is a soluble material and how this is usually done is that it’s being flushed out with a stream of running water. 

This results in a surface that has random indentations caused by the salt granules when they were still in a solid phase. This leaves behind a very textured look that feels contemporary and weathered at the same time.

It would be worth noting that a rock salt finish is most often seen and used in hotter humid regions. It is very rarely seen in regions where the weather may be colder. 

The reason behind this is that in cold weather, there’s the tendency for water to get trapped and freeze in the indentations formed by the salt granules. This can cause the surface to break or splinter into smaller pieces, ultimately ruining the quality of the finish.

Rock Salt Concrete Finish 

Rock salt concrete finishRock salt concrete finish is considered as one of the older or more conventional types of decorative concrete finishes. Because of the nature of its material and in the way that the finish is being accomplished, it has become quite popular in regions where there isn’t a lot of cold weather or a lot of snow. 

Concrete can be pretty direct of straightforward all on its own. A homeowner doesn’t really have a lot of things on the horizon in terms of options when it comes to dressing it up or putting in any type of decorative aspect to its finish. 

This is where a rock salt concrete finish option comes in. For a small additional cost, an interesting texture can be added to any concrete hardscape.

In this day and age, the market has been overrun with decorative finishes that have been prefabricated or are readily available in the market. This is why rock salt concrete finish has had a bit of a decline in its popularity. 

However, hardscape designers would insist that if there is a need to design and decorate concrete and still maintain its look and feel; they would insist that rock salt concrete finish would still be the way to go. Read more about our guide on the different concrete floor finishes on this page.

Salt Finish Concrete Pros And Cons

House with salt concrete driveway

Pros of salt finish concrete:

Unique Look – Aesthetics can be tough for as far as concrete is concerned. It has a very utilitarian feel to it. However, thanks to this kind of finish, it can be easily remedied. A salt finish feels stylish and the look it lends out can be distinctive. 

Can Be Used With Colored Concrete – It’s a great way to add some details to the floor without making it look overdone. It’s subtle but ironically, it is also quite noticeable. And the best part in all of this is that it can even be used for colored concrete.

Inexpensive to Install – Salt finishing on concrete is also affordable and very easy to install. Customized concrete options can rack up and break the bank real quick and if someone who does hardscape isn’t careful about it; it can totally derail the progress of a project but this isn’t the case with a salt finish on concrete. 

Salt finish accomplishes a very sophisticated and luxurious appearance while keeping expenses at bay. Costs are kept low because there aren’t a lot of materials used. Anyone on a budget can easily add the details they want. Read more about our guide on the different concrete driveway finishes here.

Better Slip Resistance – The small pockets, indents and imperfections in a salt finish surface help provide traction and prevent slipping.

Swimming pool with salt finish concrete

Cons of salt finish concrete:

Needs Professional Installation – To ensure there is equal salt distribution across the concrete surface and proper application it’s recommended to use a skilled contractor. If you do decide to DIY this project, you’ll want to use a trowel and broom or brush rather than a roller.

Can Crack in Cold Climates – The accumulation of salt left over in the concrete can mean water accumulates. In freezing and thawing conditions, this can have an adverse effect on the concrete leading to potential cracks and damage in the salt fnishes.

Salt Finish Concrete Cost

Concrete patio with pergola and gravel landscapeConcrete has always been and will always be one of the top choices to consider if the aim is to get an attractive and durable driveway. Essentially, it is a mixture of cement, aggregates, and water. 

The cost for this can vary a lot as it depends on the thickness of the concrete as well as the salt being laid, and then the actual area that the concrete is being spread on.

A typical driveway with this kind of finish, averaging at around a 24 x 24 square foot size, can range at $5,000 and upwards depending on the pattern and what the preferred add-ons may be when laid out professionally by the contractors. 

However, for the more enterprising type, if DIY’d; the cost can go down tremendously to only a range of $1,000 or more. This is why this finish has become quite popular. The concept is pretty easy, the materials are readily available, and it can be DIY’d. Read more about our guide on salt finish concrete pool deck here.

Concrete Broom Finish Vs Salt Finish

Concrete broom finishConcrete broom finish is a pretty standard type of finish for driveways. The concrete is troweled into a smooth surface consistency and with the use of a broom, “swept in” to create traction lines. 

Surface traction is particularly important for concrete applications and cement materials that are outdoors and most especially if there are tires involved. 

A slippery driveway can turn out to be a dangerous one. A broom finish in the driveway makes it not only aesthetically appealing but traction friendly as well. The skid resistance provided is better for tires, especially in adverse weather conditions.

On the other hand, salt finish is most often used in the areas surrounding pools or where other outdoor ties might be involved. The concrete finish is made smooth but to offset that a little and to make it a little less slippery, salt is added to the finish. 

Once the concrete has set, the rock salt granules leave behind interesting indentations that make for an uncommon finish. 

Both the concrete broom finish and the salt finish have their merit. A broom finish provides more in traction whereas a salt finish concrete provides more in aesthetics. It all boils down to basic preference. 

It goes without saying though that a salt finish certainly has a more unique and luxurious look and feel to it and is something that is worth considering when deciding on a concrete finish. See more related content at our article about the different types of pool finishes on this page.