Introduction

repairing concrete
Photographs by Geoffrey Gross
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In the past, when a concrete patio or driveway started to show serious signs of aging, using a jackhammer or bringing in a bulldozer were the only repair options. Today there are more practical alternatives.

Polymer-based cement resurfacers are formulated to transform cracked, spalled, weatherworn concrete to like-new condition. The top dressing we used, Ardex All-Purpose Concrete Resurfacer, is made of portland cement and high-performance polymers. It's mixed with water and applied with a steel trowel, squeegee or push broom to a thickness of only 1/16 inch. One 20-lb. bag costs about $25 and covers 50 to 60 square feet. (The average concrete driveway is about 500 square feet.)

Besides patios and driveways, Ardex can be used to resurface concrete stairs, sidewalks, garage floors, and most vertical surfaces. For our project, we resurfaced a 9 X 27-foot driveway and 3 X 18-foot walkway using six bags of Ardex. It took two people five hours to complete the job. The work isn't particularly difficult, but the pace is frenetic. Once the water is mixed in, you've got less than 30 minutes to apply the concrete dressing.

For optimum results, work on a day with low humidity, no rain and an air temperature ranging between 70° and 75°F. The surface temperature of the existing concrete must be at least 50°F.
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    Tools List

    • drill
      Electric drill with mixing paddle
    • caulk gun
      Caulking gun
    • putty knife
      Putty knife
    • flat finishing trowel
      Trowel
    • push broom
      Push broom
    • garden sprayer
      Pump sprayer

    Shopping List

    1. CONCRETE RESURFACER
    one 20-pound bag will cover about 50 to 60 square feet

    2. 5-GALLON BUCKET
    for mixing concrete resurfacer

    3. TSP (trisodium phosphate)
    used to clean concrete prior to resurfacing

    4. DUCT TAPE
    used to cover expansion joints prior to resurfacing

    5. CONCRETE-REPAIR CAULK
    used to fill cracks up to ½-inch wide

    6. MASONRY MORTAR MIX
    for patching cracks wider than ½-inch

    7. MASONRY SEALER
    for treating the concrete after resurfacing