- 1 Concrete overlay preparation
- 2 Concrete overlay cost
- 3 Conclusion
When concrete gets old or there were some mistakes made when it was poured, it can get a rough and unsightly surface. There are places where it doesn’t matter much, but when the surface in question is at the best location of the house, it might be a problem.
Concrete being a hard and in a way unforgiving surface, it might even cause some anxiety, but I have some good news:
There is pretty much no concrete surface with surface damage that is in a condition that it cannot be overlayed.
Actually, I’m as confident with this statement as I can get. The reason for that is that if the concrete is not over its designed age, has no structural damage, and was manufactured following proper routine – it should still be strong.
I’ve probably overlayed hundreds, if not thousands balconies during my career and the only ones not suitable were the ones that were incorrectly manufactured. Too little rebar etc. Those were demolished.
So if you don’t want to do a new slab and get rid of your old concrete, a concrete overlay can help your slab to look like it was just poured after you decorate it properly.
If you’re thinking about possible decorations here, think about concrete stamping and other kinds of surfaces that were not available back in the day you poured your old slab. Now you have a new chance.
The only thing that might worry you is the cost. How much is all of this going to cost me? Let’s start with the process of concrete overlay.
Concrete overlay preparation
There is no understanding of the cost if we don’t know or understand the process. I’ll try to open it up a little so we can see what might need to be done.
The steps for concrete overlaying are usually something like this:
- Preparing the surface for the overlay. This varies from indoors to outdoors. Outdoors you can use tools like powerwashers, mechanical grinding is more suitable indoors. Sometimes when the surface is damaged you might hammer thick pieces off.
- For the concrete overlay to adhere, the surface must be dust-free. Depending on the products, a primer might be needed.
- Some floors can be overlayed with self-leveling compounds if the surface is level. Sometimes if there is tilt for water etc, you might need a guiding rail or something that helps you get the angle right. The edge of a form or small bench is made of compound/concrete on each side so you can easily plane it. This is naturally slower.
Now that we understand the process a bit, we still need to consider intent. Is our purpose functionality, and decoration, and do we need to consider usage?
Exterior overlays can be done for utility fast and easily
Exterior concrete overlays are an alternative to tearing out an existing slab which can be expensive, dirty, and disruptive. Turning a worn-out, cracked surface into a complete facelift with a concrete overlay is possible.
Depending on the existing substrate’s size and condition, the surface can look brand new with added curb appeal. Surface prep for the exterior concrete overlay is the most crucial part of a project.
The more complex the surface decoration, the more money we would spend. It takes work hours to do complex decorations and while the materials might be cheap, people’s time most often isn’t.
Concrete polymer overlays are designed for decoration and take more time
Adding textures and colors to exterior slabs helps with how they resonate with the landscaping and other building decorations. The exterior concrete polymer overlay is perfect for driveways, sidewalks, patios, and pool decks.
Using techniques with trowels and other hand tools the renovator can replicate flagstone, brick, stone tile, and slate. The possibilities with the color palette are endless with concrete stains that are UV protected so it will never lose its color value.
Not all exterior projects are suitable for a concrete overlay. The concrete polymer overlay product needs a sound surface for good bonding purposes.
Cracks are addressed by opening up and filling with a product that expands during hot weather and shrinks with the substrate during cold temperatures. After staining the concrete overlay two coats of a penetrating sealer are applied that is impervious to salt and extra protection from UV rays.
Concrete driveway overlays can be decorative or just plain functional
Improving a driveway’s appearance can add more value to a home with an overlay. Concrete driveway overlays offer a wide range of options from textures to stamping, and colors.
As before, the price will depend a lot on the decorations we want to do. The more complex it is, the more we have to be willing to pay unless we do the job ourselves.
We also have to think about usage. If you want to work with your car a decorative driveway would mean extra work keeping it nice looking.
Decorative options for driveways are 1/8″ up to 1/2″, concrete engraving, saw-cut patterns, and random saw-cut patterns. A border can also be installed with a contrasting solid color or a brick pattern adds a new element.
Concrete patio overlay
Patio overlays are gaining popularity for the new age of patio transformation. A Concrete patio is a great place to entertain guests; an overlay can make it more appealing.
A concrete patio overlay can be overlayed with a smooth finish, stamped, skip-troweled, and troweled down. Many patterns can be installed on a patio with flagstone, brick, or slate. Concrete patio overlays are a great way to enhance a backyard space.
Concrete overlay cost
Now we have some idea about the process and what can be done with different slabs.
Depending on the level of quality and state of an exterior concrete slab, an overlay can cost anywhere from $3-4 to $7-8 a square foot. In some cases especially with a stamped overlay can cost $9 to $20 or more a square foot depending on complexity.
Prep work has a lot to do with pricing because of the time and labor to get a concrete surface ready to accept a concrete overlay.
There are many factors for the pricing of a concrete overlay. The pattern, engraving, taping patterns, stenciling, and intricate detail for coloring.
When pricing out the concrete overlay cost doesn’t just look at the square footage price. Even some flooring options’ material cost is less than a concrete overlay but may cost more in the long run.
When comparing the price with a concrete overlay product for a lifetime, the price is often comparable with the maintenance cost of other options.
If I was the one getting concrete overlaying by using contractors, I’d ask for offers for the job from multiple contractors and compare the price to the area of the slab or slabs. That way I’d get an estimate of how much it would cost in my area per square foot.
UV protection products will help to prolong the life of the overlay
Now the final step would be protecting the new surface. Depending on the budget, a lot of money might end up being spent so it would be in our interest that the new overlay lasts as long as possible.
For that reason it’s good to use a contractor that uses UV-protected concrete stains and sealer that is also UV-protected, penetrating sealer that is impervious to salt. Salt and water can cause cracks prematurely at freezing conditions as the moisture freezes in cracks multiple times.
Sealers don’t cost that much per square foot, you can get them from $0.1 to $1 depending on quality. It’s also fast to apply so work shouldn’t cost that much if you want a professional to apply it.
Salt is also no good to rebar in the concrete so it’s good to protect against it and moisture in every climate. The sealer will also look good on the surface so it’s a win.
Maintenance is required with this application every 3 years with powerwash and reseals to get the most out of an overlay for protection. If your contractor does a good job you might want to make a deal about maintenance every 3 years with them.
Another way is to learn how to do it yourself. It’s not very complicated and some guides on this site also cover it. This acid staining guide has a part for sealing as well, it’s no different from that really.
Now if you’re not you need to consider how much the overlay will cost and how much the decoration will cost. With the first question, you can have some estimates with this article.
With the second question, it will depend on where you live. It can be from $7 to $10 or double that if the decoration is a high-skill one. As always, the more details you want, the more it will cost.
If you’re able guy or girl, I’d say get familiar with the process and try doing it yourself. You will save a lot of money but have to work for it.
Before doing anything big, you can do small practice pour to see if you can handle it. If it seems easy, move on to planning a bigger pour.