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Cost of Aggregate Concrete Sidewalks

Home and property owners who select a decorative aggregate can expect to pay more for the sidewalk materials compared to projects that use basic aggregates. A complex configuration or sidewalk design will also add to the project cost. If extensive leveling or grading of the soil is required, this may add to the labor costs of an aggregate concrete sidewalk project. Removal of trees, old concrete or pipes may also add to the cost of the sidewalk. Some cities may require permit and inspection fees for sidewalk construction, which would add to your budget. See all the costs below. 

The Costs

  • The average minimum cost per square foot of middle quality aggregate concrete sidewalk is $1.84.

  • The average maximum cost per square foot of middle quality aggregate concrete sidewalk is $2.36. 

Additional Costs of Aggregate Concrete Sidewalks

An aggregate concrete sidewalk is created by mixing aggregates into cement, pouring the mixture and washing away the top layer of cement to expose the aggregate underneath. Aggregates used in concrete usually comprise 60 to 75 percent of the volume of concrete mix. Different types of aggregate can be added to concrete while it is being mixed. Some of the most common materials used as aggregates in concrete include basalts, granite, blast furnace slag, gravel, sand, manufactured sand, recycled concrete, quartz, colored glass, seashells or limestone. Rounded stones or other aggregate materials work the best. The pieces of aggregate can range from 3/8 inch to 2 inches or more in diameter. Granite, sand, slag and recycled concrete aggregates increase the strength of concrete and are the least expensive types of aggregates. Seashells, glass and quartz are used primarily for decorative aggregate concrete surfaces and are the most expensive aggregate materials. The aggregates are combined with normal strength concrete; most aggregates are not strong enough to form a sufficient surface with the use of high-strength concrete.

Different Uses of Aggregate Concrete

In addition to its use for sidewalks, aggregate concrete can also be used for horizontal surfaces such as driveways, patios, plazas and pool decks. Aggregate concrete is also used for vertical surfaces that include decorative retaining walls, building facades and sound barrier walls. Aggregate concrete is also used in drainage systems such as French drains, roadside drains, septic tank drain fields and home foundation drainage systems. In construction, aggregate concrete is used for roads, railroad ballast, building foundations, walls, roofs, and in water filtration and treatment facilities.

Advantages of Aggregate Concrete Sidewalks

Aggregate concrete sidewalks reduce the risk of slipping, skidding and falling due to slippery conditions that result from ice, snow or rainfall. Aggregate concrete can withstand heavy foot traffic, bicycles and other pedestrian uses of a sidewalk. Aggregate concrete can resist the ravages of extreme weather and rapidly-changing temperatures.

Recycled materials can become aggregates. In addition, aggregates themselves can be recycled again and turned into new aggregates. Materials that would otherwise go to waste such as blast furnace slag are used as aggregates. Aggregates decrease the cost of sidewalk construction because they extend the concrete and are less expensive than the concrete used to bind them together. If a large area of sidewalk is needed, aggregate concrete is an economical solution. Aggregates used in concrete are typically locally sourced and sustainable. By selecting different types of aggregate, home and property owners can choose the look that most appeals to them and the style they desire. Aggregates can be custom mixed to achieve a unique look and feel to the sidewalk. An aggregate concrete sidewalk can give the appearance of stone without the high cost of a stone pathway.

Disadvantages of Aggregate Concrete Sidewalks

While there are many good reasons to use aggregate concrete in a sidewalk construction project, there are some drawbacks to the use of this material. Aggregate concrete sidewalks take 90 days to cure to 95 percent strength. Over time, shifting soil and penetration of water during freeze and thaw cycles may cause an aggregate concrete sidewalk to crack. Cracks are unattractive and may cause hazardous conditions to pedestrians.

In order to repair cracked areas of concrete, the section or even the entire sidewalk may need to be removed and a new concrete sidewalk poured. Trees growing near an aggregate concrete sidewalk may cause sections of the sidewalk to experience upheaval. This can create hazardous walking conditions for pedestrians.

Aggregate concrete is prone to staining from oil, grease, rust and chemical buildup. If colorants or colored aggregates are added to the concrete, they may fade over time. Corrosive materials like battery acid or salt water may cause abrasions to the surface of the concrete and the embedded aggregate materials. Dropping heavy objects on an aggregate concrete sidewalk may damage glass, seashells and other softer aggregate materials.

Considerations for Aggregate Concrete Sidewalk Projects

Every couple of years, aggregate concrete sidewalks should be sealed with a transparent concrete sealant. If the aggregate concrete is not sealed, the cement that acts as a mortar between the aggregate may continue to wash away or chip, which can impact the durability, longevity and safety of the sidewalk. Routine maintenance can prevent problems and safety hazards such as spalling, chipping, efflorescence, freeze-thaw damage, cracks, stains, abrasion and buildup from deicing salts. Home and business owners can clean aggregate concrete sidewalks with brooms or air sprayers to remove dirt and debris.

Last updated on May 4, 2016

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