Specifying broomed exterior concrete surfaces

broom_Broom Figure 3
Brooming large-area placements is a much more difficult task than brooming sidewalks or driveways. Controlling the depth of broom marks is just one of the problems faced by finishers. Photo courtesy CECO Concrete Construction

The main differences in providing a broom finish for a large-scale concrete placement as opposed to a sample, mockup, or sidewalk are:

multiple end-to-end broom passes are needed;
broom handles up to 7.6 m (25 ft) long are used, making it more difficult to control the broom—a short broom handle gives the finisher the ability to vary the pressure and angle at the broom bristle to produce a more consistent texture across concrete surfaces that may vary in stiffness; it is difficult, if not impossible, to vary bristle pressure and angle with longer broom handles;
batch-to-batch variations in the many truckloads of concrete make it more difficult to produce a consistent broom texture due to the varying properties (e.g. slump, setting time, bleeding) of the concrete textured by a single broom pass;
weather effects on large-scale concrete placements with different truckloads of concrete cause varying degrees of surface stiffness, making it difficult to produce a consistent texture; and
visibility is limited when finishers are standing 6 m or more away from the start of the broom pass—this can be controlled with the ability to see where and how to place the broom for a 1.2-m wide sidewalk.

The differences in the size effect are shown in the photos above, which compare the finishers brooming a 1.2-m wide sidewalk and a large-scale concrete placement for a parking garage.

Due to the size effect, specifiers, architects, and owners must have realistic, but different, expectations for sidewalks and large-scale concrete placements. While a sample panel and a mockup both provide an indication of the texture desired, these are not useful for evaluating how uniform or consistent the texture will be on a large-scale concrete placement.

Broom specification requirements
Typical broom specification clauses from MasterSpec and American Concrete Institute (ACI) specifications or guides are as follows:

MasterFormat Section 03 30 00–Cast-in-place Concrete:

Immediately after float finishing, slightly roughen trafficked surface by brooming with fiber-bristle broom perpendicular to main traffic route. Coordinate required final finish with the architect before application.

MasterFormat Section 32 13 13–Concrete Paving:

(A) Medium-to-fine-textured Broom Finish: Draw a soft-bristle broom across float-finished concrete, perpendicular to line of traffic, to provide a uniform, fine-line texture. (B) Medium-to-coarse-textured Broom Finish: Provide a coarse finish by striating float-finished concrete surface 1⁄16 to 1⁄8 inch deep with a stiff-bristled broom, perpendicular to line of traffic.

ACI 301-10, Specifications for Structural Concrete:

Immediately after concrete has received a floated finish, give the concrete surface a coarse transverse scored texture by drawing a broom or burlap belt across the surface.

ACI 330.1-03, Specification for Unreinforced Concrete Parking Lots:

Broom concrete surface with a steel or fiber broom to produce corrugations between 1⁄16 and 1⁄8 in. deep. Broom perpendicular to nearest edge of pavement. Broom all areas of a panel in the same direction. Use the same type and manufacture of broom for all paved surfaces to provide a consistent appearance.

ACI 362.1R-12, Guide for the Design and Construction of Durable Parking Structures:

Deep broom finishes are not recommended. A light to medium broomed or float swirl finish should be applied to driving and parking surfaces except where an alternate finish is required to install joint materials.

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10 comments on “Specifying broomed exterior concrete surfaces”

  1. It seems like a lot more companies are using that ready-mix concrete. They are able to make up the mix twice as fast. It is yet to be determined if it is as good of quality. We’ll see once a few driveways get built.

  2. It is interesting that a slip-resistant surface is actually required for this type of thing. This makes sense especially in areas where snowy and rainy weather is really common. I know that where I live, parking lots would be treacherous if this type of thing wasn’t required. I appreciate your helpful information on how and why they do this type of thing to exterior concrete.

  3. There is a lot you can do with concrete. I remember laying concrete once and to see all of the work that goes into it is cool. If you want the job done right you have to make sure you lay it correctly and finish it with the broom finish to kept people from slipping.

  4. There are so many techniques and ways of putting in concrete. For something that seems so simple, it gets really complex. It seems like more and more methods are created all the time. Being someone who installs concrete for work, I have to stay on top of all the methods and figure out which one to use.

  5. Thanks for all of the insight about broomed exterior concrete surfaces. You talk about how this method is used to achieve the size effect because with larger surfaces, it becomes difficult to give the concrete a unified and consistent appearance, so the broom finish accomplishes this task. I can see how this is a fairly easy way to make sure that the surface ends up looking polished, smooth, and unified. Thank you again for the insight!

  6. Thanks for your article about concrete construction an safety. I didn’t know that exterior concrete surfaces must have some form of slip-resistant surface. I grew up in the Northwest, and it rained for most of the year. This makes perfect sense, though. You can get highly polished surfaces with concrete. With a slip resistant surface it should help to minimize falls.

  7. Thanks for sharing such an insightful information over here. A concrete driveway is considered to be the best part in housing decisions. If we compare to alternative driveway materials like cement or stone, Concrete offers numerous advantages. The above video shows all of the concrete benefits and its features. For Knowing further benefits of using concrete contact visit expert advice at the official site of paving contractors like Asphalt Paving Frederick MD

  8. Thanks a lot for sharing info about concrete surfaces in such detail. I found the size effect aspect especially interesting and relevant, being in the commercial and industrial flooring industry myself.

  9. 1-how answered about these comments:

    -Broom finish is not straight, not consistent, and not uniform at many panels.

    -The corrugated depth of broom finish is not uniform, Texture finish appeared rough &light at many places, discoloration on concrete finish observed and marks appeared on the texture finish.

  10. Great share. I appreciate your post as it is a good tip for homeowners. It is quite useful to know that asphalt driveway needs regular seal coating. My parents living in new Bedford ma, they are going to update with a new asphalt coating because their old concrete driveway is cracked and falling apart. They need to find a good contractor for getting the job done with a low-cost budget on stamped concrete cape cod, so it’s a simple thing for them if you can recommend one. Thanks, Doris Brown

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