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How to Resurface Worn Concrete

Trowel concrete resurfacer over your worn walkway, and you'll have a brand new, durable surface with uniform color. Before you get started, check out this how-to video on working with concrete.

Our concrete walk has pits and seems to be crumbling. How can we fix it?

—Jace Laakso, Missoula, Mont.

Tom Silva replies: Spalling, the pits that form in concrete, happen when too much water is used in a concrete mix, weakening it.

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.

As long as your walkway isn't cracked all the way through, 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. Its natural color is dark gray, so buy enough to cover your entire walk. One 40-pound bag coats about 35 square feet. If you want a different color, just add a concrete tint.

What Temperature Should You Pour Concrete?

Before resurfacing, strip off any paint or sealers from your concrete surface and watch the weather. Temperatures should remain above 50 degrees F for 8 hours after the pour and above freezing for 24 hours after that. 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.

How Long Does Resurfacing Take?

Resurfacing takes most of the day, but your walkway will be back in pristine shape once you're done.

How to Resurface Worn Concrete

Step 1: Clean the Concrete

  • For surface preparation, wear heavy boots and protective glasses and blast off surface dirt with a gas-powered pressure washer that can reach at least 3,500 psi.
  • Fit the wand with a 25-degree fan tip, and hold it 6 to 8 inches from the surface as you clean the concrete with slow, even sweeps.
  • To remove mildew or algae, use a concrete wash.

Step 2: Patch Spalled Areas

Patching Spalled Areas With Trowel Photo by Ryan Benyi
  • While the concrete is damp, mix up enough resurfacer to fill any divots. Combine 1 part water with 7 parts resurfacer in a 5-gallon bucket; blend with a paddle mixer attached to a corded drill.
  • Fill the recesses with resurfacer, and smooth with a finish trowel.
  • Go to the next step when you can stand on the patch without indenting it, in about 2 to 5 hours.

Step 3: Spread the Resurfacer

Concrete Resurfacer on Walkway Photo by Ryan Benyi
  • Fill the walkway joints with peel-and-stick foam weatherstripping, and dampen the concrete if necessary.
  • The resurfacer is workable for about 20 minutes, so mix just half a bag of powder with 5½ cups of water at a time. That's enough to cover two sidewalk slabs, or about 17 square feet.
  • Pour it on the walk.

Step 4: Trowel Out the Resurfacer

Man Spreading Resurfacer With Trowel on Walkway Photo by Ryan Benyi
  • Spread the resurfacer until it's between 1/8 and ¼ inch thick.
  • For a slip-resistant finish, wait 5 minutes, then sweep a nylon-bristle concrete broom across it, 90 degrees to the foot traffic.
  • Remove the weatherstripping after 20 minutes. Wait 6 hours before walking on it. Cover only if rain threatens in the meantime.

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