A salt finish is a simple and inexpensive way to dress up what would otherwise be plain concrete flatwork. It's achieved by pressing coarse rock salt into the surface of fresh concrete, allowing the concrete to set, and then washing the salt away with a stream of water. The random indentations produced by this process give the surface a weathered and textured look. Long popular in the warm Western and Southern states, the finish is rarely seen in colder regions, where water could freeze in the indentations and cause the surface to spall.

Earlier this year, I visited a residential project in Alamo, Calif., and watched a crew form and pour a new driveway and walk. It was a big job that involved several loads of material, so crew leader Magdaleno Avarra decided to form and place the concrete in stages.

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