Fair-faced Concrete to build your imagination

As in the meaning of the collective term ‘fair-faced’, these concrete designs tend to produce smooth and aesthetic surfaces within all kind of shapes.
fair-faced Concrete
Source – Project 101 house / Pinterest.pt

Back in the day constructions by concrete were mainly concerned in the facts of unique load bearing capacity and the cost effectiveness. But with the evolvement of the society over the last decade has brought the requirement of having unique and astonishing aesthetic finishes in concrete designs as well. With the development of Self Compacted Concrete, the possibility of incredible concrete designs and high-quality finishes has come to light.

Using common construction material such as Grade 30OPC Cement, Fine Sand, Coarse Aggregate (Metal) and formworks made out of Good Timber/Steel or Aluminum will guide you to having your own desired concrete finishes.

What is fair-faced Concrete?

stack of fair-faced Concrete
Source – Panels / livingconcrete.co.uk

As in the meaning of the collective term ‘fair-faced’, these concrete designs tend to produce smooth and aesthetic surfaces within all kind of shapes. Rather than pouring and casting on the site, these concrete designs can be pre casted according to the architectural and Load bearing demand of the structure as well. Fair-Faced concrete mainly depends on 3 factors.  Form work, Concrete Mixture and Curing and Placing Methods.

Form Work

interior with fair-faced Concrete
Source – The Formwork / Paschel.de

Aesthetic appearance of the fair faced concrete originally depends on the quality of the formwork. The form work needs to be impervious or the finish of the surface will not produce the expected quality.

Form work material such as untreated timber would result in having considerable retardation leading into discoloration and dusting as well. Therefore, the formwork materials must be selected with sincere concern.

Surface texture effects are also generated from the materials used in formwork. Vastly used formwork materials such as Roughly sawn timber, Steel or aluminum provide unique textures in the concrete surfaces.

Related article : Build your house with cost-effective and eco-friendly CEBs

Concrete Mixture of fair-faced Concrete

concrete mixture
Source – Formwork and Finishes /ConcreteCenter.com

Concrete is to be taken as the vastly used construction material in industry due to its’ load bearing capacity and the cost effectiveness ratio. Usually a concrete surface tends to rough with constant unconformities. So, creating a fair faced surface while keeping the initial properties of the concrete is taken to be challenging.

To overcome this challenge, certain practices are widely used in manufacturing fair faced concrete Shapes.

  • Using a minimum amount of fines content
  • Making the density of the mixture to be over than 300 kgm-3 
  • The Water content must be ideal, Otherwise the concrete would show fluctuations or bleeding effects due to presence of superfluous water
  • Regarding the colour, the effect of the cement needs to be considered in the finishing colour of the surface.

Curing and Placing

Curing and Placing of fair faced concrete
Concrete Curing Systems (Source –Constructionreviewonline.com)

In order to ensure the quality and the consistency of the concrete the curing and placing methods have to analyzed thoroughly as well.

  • The concrete should be laid in even strips with thickness varying from 300mm -500mm.
  • Each layer needs to be vibrated thoroughly into the layer below while ensuring the expulsion of air bubbles.
  • Concrete should have enough plasticity to have soft consistence installations

To manure the concrete is such unique manners, it needs to be subjected to several enhancers to improve certain qualities. In Concrete these enhancers are commonly referred as admixtures. Generally used admixtures in the production of fair-faced concrete panels, or the structures can be identified as follows,

AdmixtureUsage
Mold Releasing Agent
(eg:- AquaCon)
To make striking and clearing easier
Surface Improver
(eg:- Emulsion93)
To improve the quality of the surface by reducing
presence of pores and blow holes
Curing Agents
(eg:- Ecocore)
To prevent premature curing
ColouringTo create even and demanding colours in the concrete.
Super Plasticizer
(eg:- Kingsun)
To increase the strength
To increase the impermeability

Advantages of fair-faced Concrete

1. Ability to cutoff the cost for Plastering

In local construction Industry cost for plastering 1m2 concrete wall space lies around Rs. 120.00 – Rs.130.00.  Simply by switching your concrete designs into fair faces, the cost for plastering can be avoided in a highly benefitable manner. Instead of plastering the concrete wall or the structure,

Grinding
Grinding
To get an even surface (Unconformities, Joints)
Filling (If Needed & Grinding)
Filling (If Needed & Grinding)
Filling up any unconformities such as honeycombs to get an Complete surface
Concrete Finish
Concrete Finish
Concrete finish ideal for outdoor environments and warehouses, Storages, Industrial Plants, etc.
Applying Skim Coat
Applying Skim Coat
Applying a coat of Putty, Lime on top of concrete Surface.
Painting
Painting
Smooth surface is achieved, suitable for any interior.

2. Availability of panels in preferred Sizes

Fair faced concrete pannels
Panels (Source – livingconcrete.co.uk)

Rather than forming the concrete and grinding the concrete in site (In situ), pre casted concrete panels can be bought from plants which carries smooth surfaces along with high load bearing capacities as well.

Modern Concrete
Modern Concrete (Source – Structures / Ar.pinterest.com)

These panels produce the capability of having 2-3 story buildings without the involvement of high rising columns, while giving a neat surface which is ideal for skim coat and painting. The cost of construction also reduces in a significant manner due to abundance of structural columns, Plastering.,etc.

3. Reduced wastage of materials

Concrete Chipping Site
Concrete Chipping Site (Source – Shutterstock.com)

When concrete or the cement slurries prepared in the site, considerable amount usually get wasted while mixing, transporting, and placing.

Making the in-situ concrete into fair faced surfaces would help in reducing the wastage since the abundance of plaster is guaranteed by them. In the other hand using pre casted panels will reduce the wastage even further due to abundance of plaster and minimum usage of concrete as well.

4. Possibility of Various Shapes

different shapes of fair faced concrete
Shapes (Source – structureae.net)

With the right material and formwork, your imaginations become the limit for concrete designs. With the availability of aesthetic and smooth finishes in concrete (Fair Faced) the possibility of having any kind of desired shape has come to light in modern architecture.


Dumindu Gunathilake - Quality Assurance Engineer (Civil)

Resource person

Dumindu Gunathilake
Quality Assurance Engineer (Civil)


Click to see References 📚
  • The Benefits of Fair-Faced Concrete in Residential Design with Architect/Asaf Gottesman/18th December 2018
  • Fair-Faced Concrete Panels/Living Concrete/15 March 2020
  • Fair Faced Concrete/Building Trust (Sika)
  • What is fair faced concrete/ Paschel/ 21st December 2018
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A. Premakumara
Civil Engineering Department, University of Moratuwa

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2 Comments

  1. Superb work amila 😍🔥

  2. Chandula Jayasooriya

    Great work! 😍👍🏻

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