Update: How to Create a Rock Salt Finish

There are many different finishes you can choose from when it comes to polished concrete. You can choose from stained, woodcrete, overlay or a C3 Diamond Floor! All of your options depend on what type of feel and aesthetic you are looking to create in your space. Each choice gives you a different feel, which is why polished concrete is so versatile!

What is a rock salt concrete finish? 

Most people would assume that polished concrete exposed to salt has negative effects on the concrete itself. However, it isn’t always a bad thing to expose concrete to salt, particularly when it comes to a rock salt concrete finish. Rock salt finishing is an easy and traditional way to get a little texture for skid resistance to colored or plain concrete. It is considered a level above smooth or broom finished concrete. 

A salt finish resembles the look of a somewhat pitted and weathered rock, leaving speckles of shallow indentations from the salt on the surface. Due to the growing popularity of stamped concrete, rock salt finishing is becoming used less and less, making it so that many commercial spaces don’t even know that it is an option.

The unfortunate thing about the salt finish losing popularity is that it has a unique and appealing appearance. The look is not achievable with any other process. It is not an elaborate or planned pattern, but it does have a very distinctive look. It’s also rather easy to do, not requiring many additional tools compared to other methods of finished concrete. It is also an affordable option for those on a budget.

Where is it used?

The same coarse rock salt used in deicers or water softeners is used to create the appearance, which is why it’s called a rock salt concrete finish. The rock salt is simply distributed over the wet concrete surface and the salt is then pressed into the concrete with a roller or a float. After about 24 hours when the concrete has set, the salt is simply washed away with a power washer to reveal the uniquely indented surface. However, because we live in a world of new and improved products, there are now saltless options available that create a salt imprint look.

You will typically see salt finishes in warmer weather climates. In areas of harsher climates where it is often wet or freezing water can collect in the indentations and freeze causing the concrete to spall. You can still use a salt finish if you like the appearance of it and live in a cold weather climate. You just want to ensure that you use  top quality concrete and waterproof sealer to protect it.

Is it right for your space?

While it is a rather simple method to achieve a salt finish, there is still some need to pay attention to detail to achieve the most eye appealing results. For example, a common mistake with salt finishes is that the salt is broadcast unevenly and then pressed leaving some salt too deep in the concrete and some not deep enough. Here are a few tips for achieving the best results.

  • Use salt crystals that are sized 1/8 to 3/8 of an inch big, they should be pressed into the concrete surface at about half their diameter in depth. Try not to create indents bigger than ¼ inch in size because this creates a tripping hazard for some types of high heeled shoes.
  • Give the concrete a smooth finish before applying the salt for a more distinct salt imprint.
  • The amount of salt used varies depending on the desired finish. Use about three pounds per 100 square feet for a light finish and use twelve pounds per square foot for a heavier texture. A heavier texture will have a similar look to travertine.
  • The right time to start to work the salt into the concrete is right when the concrete begins to set.
  • A way to test the concrete surface for readiness to distribute the salt is to press your finger into the surface. When the imprint depth is about ¼ an inch then it is ready.
  • Make sure all salt is washed away after the concrete has set to prevent any discoloration, particularly if the concrete is integrally colored.
  • The most important thing is to distribute the salt evenly across the entire surface.

If you want a unique flooring option and polished concrete is your choice, give us a call today and we can help you decide on the perfect finish and install for your space! Let us help you upgrade and meet all of your interior design dreams!