The Hardscaper Blog:

Broom Finish vs Sandscape® Concrete; Which is better?

Exterior amphitheater with broom finished flatwork

Over the past decade, Broom Finish and Sandscape® (Sand Finish) Concrete have been our two most desired concrete finishes. So, what is the difference between the two, and how do you figure out which option is the best for you? Before anything else, let’s define each one.

What is Broom Finish Concrete?:

Broom Finish concrete is concrete finished by dragging a horsehair broom, or something similar, over its wet surface. Brushing the concrete makes for a textured surface with small, but noticeable grooves. Broom Finish concrete has been the preferred utilitarian texture for exterior concrete for decades.

Benefits of Broom Finish:

Firstly, Broom Finishing concrete creates a textured, slip-resistant surface. Secondly, it allows for a unique decorative element. By brushing the concrete in different directions, endless decorative patterns can be formed.

Broom finish on uncolored concrete at plaza
The Promenade Shops at Centerra

What is Sandscape (Sand Finish) Concrete?:

As we have mentioned in a previous blog, Sandscape is concrete finished by using custom retarders to expose the sand aggregates within the mix. This results in exposed sand aggregates on its surface.

Benefits of Sandscape:

Sandscape has a textured, non-slip surface while possessing a very natural appearance. Additionally, this Cast-In-Place option looks the closest to Pre-Cast flatwork without actually being Pre-Cast. Sandscape opens doors for other specialty finishes such as Lithomosaics® and Lithocrete®.

Similarities between Broom Finish and Sand Finish Concrete:

Both Broom Finish and Sand Finish concrete range in their slip-resistance, depending on the desired result. Moreover, each finish has the potential to be used as part of a design scheme. These flatwork options can have custom saw-cut patterns, colors, and depths.

Differences between the two:

Office building in DTC with sanscape refined and broom finished concrete
5050 S. Syracuse

Though similar in some ways, these finish options have many differences. For example, the texture on a Broom Finish wears down from weathering and foot traffic, causing it to eventually become more slippery than originally installed. 

This makes the finish, especially a light broom finish, a poor option for pool decks. To have a Broom Finish on a pool deck would necessitate a deeper brushing. Deep Broom Finishes have sharp peaks in the concrete which are harsh to walk on barefoot. In contrast, a Sand Finish, specifically Sandscape, maintains its non-slip texture over many years while still being walkable. 

Colors also differ in the way they appear on these finishes. In fact, a colored Broom Finish has a more solid, painted look whereas Sandscape keeps a natural, more consistent look because of sand aggregates peeking through. Continuing, colored Broom Finish concrete often displays variation and “splotchiness” in the color while Sandscape has a more uniform appearance.

Broom finished bike path next to sandscape walkway.
Boulder Civic Area Park

We describe Sandscape as an adaptable finish. What we mean is that the finish can look historic or contemporary depending on the project. Moreover, it looks great in residential or commercial settings. A Broom Finish on the other hand maintains a more utilitarian look even when adding additional broom patterns or colors.

Another consideration is budget concerns. Sandscape does have a premium price tag due to the additional labor and material required during construction. If budget is a concern, a Broom Finish still can create beautiful decorative elements. 

Takeaway:

Different textured concrete from broom finishing strategy
Denver Premium Outlets

Despite their differences, Broom Finish and Sandscape® concrete work nicely together, even when right next to one another. As seen in the photo above, we installed both finishes and the result was breathtaking.

All in all, the collaboration between finishes, colors, and products allows you to imagine the possibilities. If you have questions on using either Broom Finish concrete or Sandscape, we would love to talk about the options available for you. Come visit us at our Design Center or email us at [email protected].