How to Create a Rock Salt Finish

It isn’t always a bad thing to expose concrete to salt, particularly when it comes to a rock salt 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 homeowners don’t even know that it is an option.

The unfortunate thing about the salt finish losing popularity is that it has a very 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 unlike many other methods of finishing concrete do. It is also an affordable option for those on a budget.

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 finish. The rock salt is simply broadcasted 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 like look.

You will typically see salt finishes in warmer weather climates where there isn’t much cold, wet, and harsh weather. 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 a top quality concrete and seal it with a top quality waterproof sealer to protect it.

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 size is 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.

There are so many creative and custom options for finishing concrete, but first and foremost important is the concrete itself. At Custom Concrete Creations we have state of the art equipment and a properly trained team with years of experience. Custom Concrete Creations is a premier contractor serving the Omaha area as well at the Midwest. Give us a call or send us an email for your custom concrete finishing needs today!