clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

How to Fix Chipped Concrete Steps

Concrete steps are typically durable, but they can sometimes chip or breakaway near the corners. Read these steps to learn how to bring new life to damaged corners of your concrete steps.

Concrete stairs leading to a red door iStock

Concrete steps are durable, but over time the edges and corners become vulnerable to chipping and breakage. And what initially looks like an unfortunate eyesore can quickly turn into an unsafe condition, causing people to trip and fall. Thankfully, these concrete step repairs are easy to tackle without a major investment in time or money, and even an inexperienced DIYer can successfully complete this project in less than a day.

Approaches to repairing chipped concrete steps vary—it all depends on how big and badly damaged the area is. A small chip (less than ½ inch deep) can be fixed simply with a few tools, but larger missing chunks of concrete require a bit more know-how. No matter how big or small your repair job is, though, we’ve detailed the steps to guide you below.

What You Need to Know About Fixing Concrete Steps

To fix concrete stairs, you’ll need the surface to be solid and clean. First, remove all debris and clean the area by washing or vacuuming it. A clean step surface ensures that the new material can properly bond to the damaged area.

In regions where the temperature exceeds 90 degrees F, the newly repaired area should be kept moist for 24 to 48 hours. To do this, wet the area down and place a plastic drop cloth over the patch to keep the moisture in.

How to Fix Chipped Concrete Steps

For chips less than ½ inch deep

  1. Using a wire or stiff-bristle brush, sweep the damaged area clean of all loose bits of gravel, sand, cement, and dirt. Spray the area down with water or use a shop vacuum to remove any dust.
  2. If the site is dry, dampen it with water—enough to make it wet but not so much that water sits on the surface.
  3. If necessary, you could brush the chipped surface with a bonding adhesive, although this isn’t necessary for minor repairs.
  4. In a plastic bucket, mix quick-setting cement— eyeballing the amount to use only as much as you’ll need.
  5. Work quickly and, with firm pressure, apply newly mixed cement into the damaged area with a margin trowel. If the area is small enough, you can mold the cement into the chip with your gloved hands.
  6. Continue building and sculpting the cement—layering it to just slightly higher than the original surface. Once the patch is thumb dry (about 5-10 minutes), use the edge of the margin trowel to scrape the excess cement and level the area.
  7. Use a damp sponge to blend the edges between the newly-applied cement and the concrete, stamping the new patch with the damp sponge if it needs to be texturized to match.

How to Fix Chipped Concrete Corners

To fix damaged concrete corners, make an L-shaped mold or form by screwing together two short pieces of 1x6.

  1. Repeat Step 1 from above. Because this is a more significant repair, instead of using water, apply concrete bonding adhesive to the surface. This product is designed to improve adhesion between the new and old material. Allow the liquid to dry before applying the cement.
  2. Spray the L-shaped form with cooking oil so it won’t stick to the new cement patch and place a drop cloth underneath the form to prevent errant cooking oil from staining your concrete. Hold the wood form against the chipped corner, making sure it’s flush with the top of the step; if you need to secure it to the step, you can attach it with strips of duct tape, though concrete blocks, a large stone, or bricks placed against the form will work too.
  3. Mix a small batch of quick-setting cement in a plastic bucket. With a pointed trowel, scoop the cement and press it into the form tightly, eliminating any air bubbles. Slightly overfill the corner, and once the patch is thumb dry (about 5-10 minutes), then smooth the cement flush with the top of the step.
  4. After the cement sets, remove the form, and with the margin trowel, fill in any recesses that didn’t get filled in while the form was in place.
  5. Use a steel trowel to smooth out the surface between the new and the old cement. Follow up with a wet sponge to feather the edges and make the repair appear seamless. You can also texture the surface with the sponge to match the surface of the original concrete.

How to Fix Broken Concrete Steps

For more extensive problems, like crumbling cement steps and large, missing chunks, you’ll have to address the damage a little differently. You’ll also need a piece of plywood to use as your form.

  1. Use a hand chisel and hammer or a hammer drill to remove unstable cement, chipping away all cracked and loose pieces.
  2. Drill holes into the remaining concrete with a tapcon or hammer drill and then drive screws into the concrete. You’ll want them to sit slightly lower than the step is going to be (these are essentially working as rebars for the new concrete—giving it more to adhere to and making the repair more stable).
  3. Dust the debris off with a brush or, better yet, wash the area with water or use a shop vacuum to remove dust and debris.
  4. Using a paintbrush, paint concrete bonding adhesive onto the damaged part of the step and let dry.
  5. If you are using a form, spray it with cooking oil as above.
  6. Mix the cement according to the directions.
  7. Place the form against the step, with concrete blocks or bricks against it for stability. Working quickly, use a pointed or margin trowel to push the into the step and the recesses where the wood form is—filling in the missing parts of the step. Use a steel trowel to smooth out the top surface between the new and the old cement.
  8. Make sure the step is level—adjust if needed by adding cement for lower areas and scraping away cement for higher areas.
  9. Pull the form away, and you’ll see areas that may need to be filled in along the rise of the step. Using your margin trowel and steel trowel, add cement along the front, pushing it into the voids, and smooth it out.
  10. Check the work with your level—you can even use the edge of the level like a screed to make sure the step is plumb.
  11. Remove any new cement that has fallen or been scraped off, and discard it to prevent it from drying and adhering to the old concrete.
  12. If the steps have a special edge (rounded, for example), run a concrete edging tool along the top of the repaired step to make it look like the others.
  13. Once the cement is thumb dry, smooth the surface with a moist sponge. Here again, you can add a texture to the new cement by lightly swiping the sponge over its surface.

Tools and Materials