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Surface finish specification

There are many concrete surface finish specifications that can be specified, for example;

BS EN 13670 Execution of concrete structures – Basic, Ordinary, Plain and Special;

National Structural Concrete Specification (NSCS) – Basic, Ordinary, Plain and Special (considered to be the UK national annex to BS EN 13670 as it provides more detailed information) free download from CONSTRUCT );

Specification for Highways Works
– Class F1 to F5 and Special;

Civil Engineering Specification for the Water Industry (
CESWI) – Rough, Fair and Fair Worked;

National Building Specification
(NBS) – Basic, Plain smooth, Fine smooth, now replaced by – Basic, Ordinary, Plain and Special in line with BS EN 13670;

BS 8110 Structural use of concrete – Type A, B, and C (now withdrawn).

All of these specifications give descriptions and acceptable limits which contractors can price against. However interpretation of a visual appearance is subjective and agreement on requirements should be related to physical benchmarks. 

The term ´fair-faced´ is not recognised in specifications. As stated back in 1972 in CP110 The structural use of concrete, the forerunner of BS 8110, “terms such as ‘fair faced’ and ‘blemish free’ should be avoided”. Apart from the lowest formed finish specification i.e. Basic, F1 or Rough, all the rest can be considered as ‘fair-faced’ so the term is too undefined to be used for tender purposes.

Acknowledgement: The Concrete Society

Concrete Bookshop - Members receive 40% discount on Concrete Society publications

TR52 2nd Edition - Plain formed concrete finishes

Visual Concrete: Planning and assessment