Versa Etch: The New Era of Concrete Finishes

When you hear the term “exposed aggregate”, what do you think of?

I think of mom and dad’s lake house in the late 70s, with a driveway so bumpy you’d think twice before rolling skating down it. It was like navigating a miniature mountain range, with pebbles jutting out like tiny boulders, catching the wheels of your bike, or worse, the soles of your feet. That old driveway, a rough surface of uneven stones, was a hallmark of its time.

This is not exactly the kind of look that fits the times, or that landscape architects are after these days. Today, the trend tends toward subtler, more refined textures.

Updating the Terminology: Exposed Aggregate to Micro Etch

If you’re a landscape architect or decorative concrete contract, you likely favor finishes like micro etch, acid etch, or sandpaper finish. These techniques offer a more controlled and subtle texture compared to the traditional exposed aggregate. They deliver that architectural edge with a tactile feel, but without the harshness. It's about creating a surface that has character and grip, yet remains stylish - a perfect blend of form and function.

Meet SpecChem's Versa Etch

SpecChem’s Versa Etch is an innovative surface retarder effectively slows down the curing process of the concrete's top layer, allowing for controlled exposure of the aggregate. It's designed to enhance both the beauty and functionality of concrete surfaces, making it an ideal choice for modern architectural applications. Versa Etch is tailor made for micro etch finishes. To be clear, it can do the old style of “exposed aggregate” – if you’re feeling retro. But the technology, the industry, and the aesthetic preferences have changed, and Versa Etch excels at micro and sandpaper finishes. Versa Etch gives a more consistent texture for slip resistance, and it’s a cheaper alternative to the other slip-resistant options.

Versa Etch provides an enhanced look versus a broom finish and is a less expensive option than pavers and stamped concrete. Versa Etch comes in 7 depths. Versa Etch is also quite a bit less labor-intensive than stamped concrete and pavers or blocks.

It can be used for sidewalks, biking trails, entryways and front areas of nice office buildings and hospitals – anywhere you want a nice, decorative finish. You can do multicolored concrete and use this product on colored concrete and it’s not going to affect the color at all.

Technically, when you use a state of the art surface retarder like Versa Etch, you’re still “exposing the aggregate”. But you’re getting that consistent look of concrete with a micro topping finish that looks even and smooth to the naked eye, but microscopically looks like rough sandpaper. It’s the kind of look that people are going for when they say something like “a light acid finish”, “a micro etch finish”, or “a sandpaper finish”.

And with Versa Etch, you’re also getting SpecChem’s expertise every step of the way to help you through the ins and outs of getting the look you want. Part 2 of this deep dive into Versa Etch will be product-specific information like application steps, potential precautions, and a preview of our upcoming product system to meet all your exposed aggregate/micro etch needs. If you have any questions at all or want to talk Versa Etch, please don’t hesitate to contact your SpecChem sales representative today.

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