How to repair concrete floors, walls, and driveways

How to repair concrete floors, walls, and driveways

If you’re browsing this, you probably need to know how to repair concrete surfaces. Browse no further as I have a quick walkthrough here. I’ll try to keep everything as simple as possible for this to stay within budget.

Concrete is used in construction to build floors, driveways, patios, walls, and more. It’s been around before the times of the Romans, who mostly get the glory, and it’s still going strong.

Time takes its toll, however. Unlike the Romans, we have to deal with different chemicals, road salt, heavy vehicles, etc. Nothing stands up to Mother Nature forever and it doesn’t have to. Blistering heat and bitter freezing cold can crack the toughest of concrete.

Things you might need

  • Something like plywood to build forms if needed, other wood can also work.
  • Spray can and cooking oil for the form so the concrete wont stick in it.
  • Bucket or something else to mix concrete in, doesn’t have to be anything fancy for small things. Simple garden bucket will do if you mix it by hand.
  • Concrete mixer if you have bigger amounts you need to mix. Consider renting one if you don’t have a drill that can mix concrete.
  • You might need few trowels. One for digging concrete on your finishing trowel and finishing trowel that is proper size for your project.
  • Stone chisel for removing loose concrete and wire brush for brushing.
  • Hydraulic cement for small cracks and latex bonding liquid for adhering step patch.

First we should always asses the damage

Assess the damage. If the concrete driveway looks more like pebble beach, you should have it replaced. If the driveway is in two pieces, one higher than the other, you should have it replaced. If there’s a hole you could lose a bicycle in, well, you get the idea.

If the damage is just a crack, a broken corner, or something simple, you can indeed repair it yourself. It’s also quite easy and straightforward.

If your concrete wall is leaning, bulging or the crack is all the way through the wall and one side looks like it’s leaning, call a contractor. This isn’t a DIY job.

Repairing concrete cracks

For a simple wall crack, clean out the crack with the wire brush. Get all the loose particles out and vacuum to ensure you have a clean surface to work with. If there are any loose bits, these can be chipped off with a stone chisel and a ball-peen hammer. Be sure to wear heavy gloves and safety goggles so you won’t get small rocks in your eye.

Mix a batch of hydraulic cement and force it into the crack with a putty knife. This cement sets up quickly, so work quickly. I like to make small batches of any type of cement or epoxies that set up quickly.

For a quick walkthrough, mix the hydraulic cement in your chosen container. Then start filling the crack from one end to another. Try to fix it as level as possible so it won’t stick out too much from the wall or floor.

Hydraulic cement, being fast-setting, can be used to even stopping small leaks. You should check the manufacturer label what your product can do before using it.

Concrete driveway resurfacer will breathe new air to old concrete

Filling holes in concrete driveway and using resurfacer

For a driveway, garage floor or patio, this works for simple cracks as well.

If the surface of your concrete just looks old and tired, you can give it a new facing and it will last for years. Measure your surface and purchase a concrete resurfacer at your local hardware store. The sales associate will help you determine how much you need.

First, clean the concrete thoroughly. You might wash it with a garden hose or pressure washer. It is to get all the possible surface dirt and loose material away.

Then you need to fix small holes with a concrete repair mortar and maybe a mixing agent. The products can be a little different from area to area, but a local hardware store should be able to tell which of your local products is suitable for small driveway holes.

You mix the mortar and fix the holes with a trowel, leaving the finished surface level with the surrounding concrete. This will help us when we spread the concrete resurfacer as there won’t be bumps that stick out on the driveway. Small things can be fixed with the resurfacer as well.

Mix the resurfacer according to the directions. Pour onto the concrete surface, starting at one end. Don’t work yourself into a corner if you’re in a room. Use the trowel to push the resurfacer into pits or small cracks.

You need to check the working time of your resurfacer product. If it’s a fast setting and you’re new to this, start by making small amounts. For a big surface that doesn’t have any expansion marks, I’d recommend a concrete resurfacer that has working time from 30 minutes upwards.

Trowel the surface smooth, and allow to dry for at least twenty-four hours. If you’re resurfacing a walkway, be sure to mark the expansion marks, and copy them in the resurfacing material.

Repairing concrete steps and broken corners

If a concrete stair has a broken corner, you don’t have to spend money to have it destroyed and rebuilt.

Use scrap wood or plywood to build a form. You’ll fill this form with concrete.

First, clean the concrete and remove any loose bits. Build a form to cover the corner and at least four or five inches on either side of the break. You can make a wedge from wood and use it to hold the form in place. You just need to have the form well in its place so it doesn’t give in when the concrete is in.

Spray the inside of the form with cooking oil. When you remove the form, you want the concrete to stay. Spray the concrete with latex bonding liquid. This will adhere the concrete repair to the stair.

Mix a quick-setting form of concrete and using a putty knife, fill the form. Pack the concrete in tightly. Slightly overfill the top, and gently tap on the form and the surface with a trowel to release any air bubbles. Allow to dry for a couple of days before removing the form.

This works well for small corners. If a third of the step is missing, a mechanical hold such as a piece of rebar may be needed.

Repairing concrete steps with rebar

This is an advanced skill job. Use a hammer drill and drill several holes in the concrete, at least four to six inches deep. Cut pieces of rebar to fit inside the form to make a new stair. Bend the ends of the rebar.

Cement the rebar ends into the holes with a quick setting cement. If the rebar wants to lay flat, wire it in place with baling or heavy wire. Attach the form to the concrete and fill as above.

Repairing concrete can be a dusty, sweaty job. In the end, dust settles and sweat washes off. The money you save is worth the effort.

Conclusion

There are many ways to repair concrete and these are just a few. One thing to remember is that when you start from small, small tricks will do like for cracks. The bigger it becomes, the more will be needed to fix it.

That’s probably my favorite reasoning for preventing concrete damage. If you can, stop it when it’s a crack. It will save you time and money.

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