Have you ever seen a house with a beautiful lawn, lush landscaping, a tasteful and well-maintained exterior – and an unsightly cracked concrete driveway?
Many common concrete problems can be easily and quickly addressed by the average homeowner, using the right products and a little bit of elbow grease. Tackling concrete repairs on your own can save you time and money – and leave you with a great-looking end result, as well as the satisfaction of knowing you did it yourself.
Outdoor concrete that’s dirty, moldy or covered with algae can often be restored with a simple cleaning. Pressure washers are great for this type of work. If you don’t own one, you can rent a machine for a day or use oxygen bleach and a scrub brush on a pole. Never use chlorine bleach to clean an outdoor concrete surface, as the toxic chemical will poison any nearby grass, landscaping or trees.
If the cleaning wasn’t enough, you can apply a thin overlay that will bond well and give the concrete new life and many years of extended service. Powdered pigments can be added to the water you use to mix the overlay to create the look that fits your home.
Overcast days with temperatures in the 55-65 degree range are the best. You want the thin overlay to dry slowly and cure well so that it bonds permanently to the old concrete. Place sheets of plastic barrier down under the drywall and around the edges of your existing concrete to protect it from overspray.
Repairing cracks in sidewalks and concrete driveways
Even properly poured concrete can crack over time. Cracks that appear over time can be caused by tree roots pushing under the slab or a shift in the ground under the slab. Minute fissures eventually leads to larger, visible cracks. This is especially severe in winter when the water turns to ice, the ice expands and the cracking process accelerates. Repairing small cracks can prevent them from becoming larger.
For any size crack, begin by cleaning the crack and the concrete around it. Use a wire brush or screwdriver to remove loose chips and dust from the crack. Use a garden hose to spray water directly into the crack to force out all loose material. Allow standing water to drain before filling the crack.
Once the surface is ready, apply the crack-filling product of choice per the manufacturer’s directions.
As long as your walkway or driveway is structural sound, you can coat the slab with a concrete resurfacer – a no-shrink blend of Portland cement, sand, and polymer additives that fills divots and makes a uniform finish.
One 40-pound bag coats about 35 square feet. Its natural color is dark gray – if you want a different color, just add a concrete tint. Before resurfacing, strip off any paint or sealers. Temperatures should remain above 50 degrees F for 8 hours after the pour and above freezing for 24 hours after that.
When it comes to concrete makeovers the possibilities for colors and design is limited only by your imagination.
Do you plan to tackle any concrete projects this year?