Rock Salt Concrete Finish – Installation – Advantages – Cost

Saad Iqbal | 🗓️Modified: March 31, 2022 | ⏳Time to read:7 min

No one loves the standard plain concrete or flat work, so why not give your concrete a subtle texture with an easy and affordable Rock Salt Concrete finish.

Rock salt concrete finish or salt-finished concrete is a type of concrete finish that dress up the fresh concrete by pressing coarse rock salt onto the surface, allowing the concrete to set, and later washing the salt with pressure water.

So, what is actually a rock salt finish concrete?

What is rock salt finish?

It’s a unique texture that experts achieve on the fresh concrete’s surface by seeding with salt. It helps create a random pattern of indents and small craters that disappears as it melts.

It’s just like that – simple and easy.

While you’re finishing a concrete pool deck, you’ve got two options – a smooth broom finish or rock salt finish. The later has plethora of benefits.

Rock Salt Concrete Finish
Rock Salt Concrete Finish

Steps for rock salt finish concrete

You want to wait for the cement to set up just a little bit. If you wait too long, you’re not going to be able to get the salt into the cement. But if you go too quickly, the rock salt just disappears into the cement.

You got to wait till its looks bit set but still workable enough to take rock salt. You know the cement goes off a little bit, it starts to harden and then what you should to do the rock salt.

So, just take the rock salt and all you have to do is throw it down. You need to throw it down with a little bit of force. So that it actually goes and penetrates the cement leaves the little divots.

Obviously you can sweep it away and what doesn’t get swept away, will just break down over time and disappear and leave that nice mid-century cement finish. They did it a lot in and it was very popular in the midcentury to see rock salt cement.

I wouldn’t call it an anti-slip surface. It is still pretty slick. So, in a lot of areas where you you’re doing cement work as  per the code, you still probably have to do a brush finish or something that’s got a little more slip resistant quality to it.

Some homeowners prefer the rock salt finish over the brush finish as it gives it a nice organic feel. You’re putting it down organically and you’re using an organic material, and it gives it that look of fossilized rock. So that’s it. It’s that simple, the harder it gets, the harder you have to throw it down to make it penetrate.

So if it’s pretty hard, you notice that the rocks aren’t going in. You have them really fling it down at the ground. You should be able to see the top half of the salt disappearing. It’s too soft if the whole piece of salt is sitting on top, it’s too hard.

Also Read: Definite ways to make your wood floors look like New

Benefits of using rock salt finish for concrete surface

Subtle texture

A rock salt finish help achieve a speckle pattern of shallow indentations on the concrete surface. The subtle texture looks similar to pitted or weathered rock – that is a costly material. Sometimes, a mere flat concrete surface doesn’t look awesome.

Skid resistance

For finishing the pool deck surface, it is ideal to use coarse rock salt. Due to the texture on the concrete surface, rock salt finish is predominantly slip resistant. So, expert regards it as ideal for pool decks. So, you and your family will feel safe while around pool.

Also Read: Gypcrete Vs Concrete – Difference-  Composition – Uses –  Pros – Cons


According to Optimum technologies, slip-resistant flooring may cost you about $50 per linear foot. Similarly the anti-skid vitrified tiles have even more hefty price tag. On the other hand, rock salt is a cheap option to achieve anti-skid resistant surface that even looks awesome.

Easy application

One of the best thing about this finish; it is quite easy to achieve. It is purely a DIY venture if you have got the right type of tools. You won’t need extensive manpower, equipment or materials.  The only additional thing you need is a roller to press the salt against the fresh concrete. But that’s only for some large projects; you even don’t need such tools for smaller projects like walkways or driveways.

Quick results

You can quickly achieve rock salt finish when compared with installing specialized flooring. Just after a lapse of 24 hours; you’re ready to wash away the salt to reveal the unique indented surface.  This 24 hours is the initial hardening time of concrete.

Salt finish concrete cost

Well, one of the significant factor homeowners prefers rock salt finish is its affordability.  You won’t have to use special skid-resistant tiles or flooring that may cost you a few bucks per square foot. In contrast, a salt finish or rock salt finish costs you on average $8 to $12 a square foot.  Anyhow, the cost depends on the color of concrete and any other special decorative requirements. Some contractors can add dry shake hardener to achieve colored finish around the pool deck.


So, here’re some pitfalls if you want to focus on alternatives as well:

  • The texture can take up water and moisture which can cause the concrete to cracks.
  • Without any sealant, the salt finish concrete won’t have extended life.
  • You need to ensure proper drainage of surface runoff otherwise the finish would still be slippery.


So, now that you’re aware of the cons of rock salt finish; it’s best time to look at some of the alternatives. There are three other types of finishes for pool decks or for the concrete surface that you can use to achieve texture.

Float and trowel finish

It is the most obvious type of finish while you’re working with concrete. In this type of finish, you take floats and trowels to create patterns and textures you want on the surface of concrete.

Broom Finish

The best thing about broom finish is that you can quickly control the smoothness or roughness of the concrete surface. You can increase or decrease the depth of the bristly texture so you can achieve a custom finish quality.

Stamped Finish

Well, a lot of times you have seen some concrete finishers mimic the look of pavers or bricks on concrete surface – that’s what we call stamped concrete. It is what we call – a stamped concrete. It’s a great way to get smoothness and texture both at the same time.

The bottom line

So, you’ve got the options in hand and I’ve tried to explain in depth the technique of rock salt finish – it’s your turn to make a decision. You’re the pool owner or the concrete owners – it’s upto you to pick one that goes well with your home’s design and your functional requirements. I would say, the salt finish concrete is arguably a great option for adding texture and functionality to your concrete finish.

Saad Iqbal is a professional civil engineering and freelance write. He's passionate about structures, construction management, and home improvement topics. He's been working as a Senior Engineer in a consultant firm for over 8 years. Besides he loves writing informative and in-depth content focused on construction and home-related topics. You can catch him at his linkedin page or reach out via our contact us page.

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