Concrete resurfacing is a nice way to improve the look of your business or home, and it can boost your property value. Resurfacing concrete is a project where you remove the top layer of concrete and replace it with a new one, and you can hire someone to do this or do it yourself. If you have a concrete path, driveway, or pool deck, you’re most likely worried about how you’ll go about refurbishing it to keep it looking nice. After all, these surfaces probably aren’t the most interesting things to draw attention to in your space, and if you installed it years ago, they’re probably looking fairly worn.
Concrete is porous, and this makes it challenging to restore it by applying a new layer of paint or another standard finish. This is where concrete resurfacing comes in. You can do it in a huge range of ways, and there are benefits and drawbacks to each of the varying techniques you can use. If you’ve been wondering how to improve the looks of your concrete surface, we’ll outline everything you need to know to ensure you can make an informed choice.
Concrete resurfacing is a very quick and easy way to get a new look and repair your concrete surface to make it last longer.
Defining Concrete Resurfacing + Why Do It
You can use concrete resurfacing to transform your concrete surface once it becomes damaged, worn, or stained. You’ll apply a new layer of concrete to the original surface, and the end result is very similar to having a brand new concrete surface poured. Resurfacing is one of the best things you can do to bring back an older concrete surface without ripping it out and replacing it. You can use it to repair cracks or stabilize loose concrete, and this makes it great for driveways that are fracturing or have potholes.
You can perform concrete resurfacing with a range of materials. It’s common to use a spray process to apply the concrete overlay to the surface. The overlay will then harden and get finished the same way a new concrete driveway or path is laid. You can also break up the concrete and repair it by mixing new concrete into broken segments. Maybe you simply have smaller areas of concrete that are chipped or stained and you want to remove them and add new concrete for a fresh look.
Concrete is a long-lasting and durable material, but it will naturally wear and age over time. Concrete is also very porous, and this makes it challenging to seal or paint. However, concrete resurfacing is a nice solution. A new finish will be smooth and sealed, and this makes it perfect for patios or driveways where you may be worried about paint chipping or peeling off over time. It also works very well on a range of concrete surfaces.
You can use concrete resurfacing on areas with stains, cracks, or chips, including driveways, patios, or concrete floors in your workshop or garages. Resurfacing is also a great solution for concrete that is too damaged for any other restoration techniques. If the concrete is badly cracked, broken, or too porous for another finish to fix it, resurfacing can help.
Concrete Resurfacing Options
Decorative concrete came out of the demand for homeowners who wanted very decorative but affordable flooring options. This solution showed how versatile concrete is and made it very popular. Concrete repair took the place of concrete removal and repouring, and concrete resurfacing made it possible to quickly fix the surface of the concrete slab with durable but affordable overlays and coatings. Below, you’ll find a show description of the concrete resurfacing options you can get for both outdoor and indoor surfaces.
Acid or Water-Based Concrete Stain
- Process – You apply this stain to the concrete and leave it to dry out.
- Benefits – Concrete stains come in a large range of colors that you can mix and match. You can apply these stains right to the concrete or use it as a decorative accent on other paving systems or flooring like stamped overlays.
- Best Uses – You can use this option on outdoor or indoor concrete.
Acrylic Concrete Coating
- Process – The coating gets loaded into a hopper gun and then sprayed onto your concrete surface. Then, you trowel it down to get a look very close to stucco.
- Benefits – The more subtle stucco-like textures you get make it slip-resistant. You may hear this referred to as cool decking because it has the ability to stay cool in spite of exposure to sunlight for hours on end.
- Best Uses – This is a great coating for outdoor surfaces, like driveways, patios, pool decks, walkways, and more.
- Material – Epoxy coating for flooring has polyamine hardener and epoxy resin in the makeup.
- Process – The hardener and resin get mixed together and then applied to your surface of the concrete. You can broadcast paint chips to get a terrazzo look.
- Benefits – Epoxy is a very durable material as long as the installation process is correct. It’s resistant to abrasions, stains, and impact.
- Best Uses – This is a very popular choice to apply on garage floors. You can only use it on indoor concrete surfaces because excessive sunlight exposure can cause the surface to yellow or blush after the bond breaks.
- Material – There is no overlay or coating needed, you just need the existing concrete.
- Process – You polish the existing concrete slab using several grits, and you start from coats and work your way to fine. The polished surface then gets a concrete sealer applied.
- Benefits – This is a very sustainable and affordable option because it uses the existing concrete. It’s also very decorative and aesthetically pleasing, especially for people who like concrete’s industrial, contemporary, or modern appeal.
- Best Uses – You can use it outdoors or indoors, and this concrete resurfacing is popular for interior residential floors or commercial flooring.
It’s very common to find polished concrete in larger commercial buildings because it’s durable and very sleek.
- Material – Uses stamp mats with a concrete overlay.
- Process – The overlay gets applied on a concrete surface and then stamped using the mats in your chosen pattern. You can stain when it dries and then seal it.
- Benefits – This is one of the most decorative concrete resurfacing options you can get. It offers a large range of colors and patterns to choose from.
- Best Uses – Even though you can use it inside, it’s a much more common solution on outdoor surfaces like driveways, pool decks, and patios.
If you want to give life to a damaged, old slab of concrete, then concrete resurfacing is a cost-effective and quick way to accomplish this. You can also use it to add a unique decorative finish. However, this is a team project, so you will need a helper. Once you decide on a concrete resurfacing method, it’s time to prep your project area.
To get started on this project, it’s critical that the air temperature stays above 50°F for a minimum of 24 hours before you start the project and for 24 hours after you finish. You’ll have to estimate the amount of material you need. A 40 pound bag of Flo-Coat will cover roughly 18 square feet.
Next, make sure that the slab is free of any loose concrete and clean. Using a pressure washer is a great way to get it ready for your concrete resurfacing project. You want to repair any damage that is more than ¼-inch deep before you get started. Using Top N’ Bond is a great way to repair this damage. Let the repairs sit for 20 minutes before you start your concrete resurfacing project.
Carefully find and take off any expansion joints on your work surface to prevent filling them with Flo-Coat accidentally. Using painter’s tape here is a great way to get a sharp edge on your repairs or to split up large pours.
Mixing the Materials
Once you add water, you’ll have to move very quickly. Getting the correct mix consistently is an essential step to successfully applying Flo-Coat. Before you start, you want to make sure that that slab is saturated surface dry (SSD) condition. You’ll want to put on a respirator or respiratory protection before you pour the Flo-Coat in a five-gallon bucket.
Add the recommended water amount to the mix in the bucket and start mixing it with a paddle mixer. Don’t go outside of the exact recommendations. Mix it for three minutes on high speed and allow it to rest for 60 seconds. Mix it for an additional 30 seconds to get a lump-free, smooth, pourable consistency. Keep it mind that your mix should flow like a thicker batter when you pour it. Next, immediately go to pouring it. If you wait even a few minutes, it can alter the mix’s consistency.
Remember, teamwork and speed are critical at this stage in the concrete resurfacing process. Move quickly and trust your product. Also, resist the urge to overwork your surface. To start, ensure that your slab is in SSD condition. If necessary, you can get it wet again. If it’s ready, start by pouring a one-inch strip along the longest edge of your slab. You want to take care that you don’t pour too much material at one time. It’s easier to get several thin layers over one thick one.
Flo-Coat can get up to ½-inch thickness, but most people don’t go over ⅛-inch thick in a single coat. Pull your mix perpendicular to how you poured it. So, you’ll work backwards along the shorter edge of the slab using a stiff-edged, long-handed rubber squeegee. Make your touch light to evenly spread the material out, and make sure you only pull in one direction as you work.
When you mix it to the correct consistency, Flo-Coat will self-heal as you pour it. Give it a few seconds to consolidate after you spread it before you touch it again. Overworking your material is the biggest mistake people make when they work with it. Regularly clean your squeegee as you work with a damp cloth to avoid dragging hardened materials across the wet material or drips.
When you finish spreading the first strip of Flo-Coat, you want to quickly move to the second strip. Make sure that you overlap the first and second pours to avoid cold joints. You also want to continue working perpendicular to the direction of your pour, pulling the material in the same direction for uniformity. Once you place the material, allow it 10 minutes to get to the initial set. Lightly drag the broom across the surface in parallel lines to even out any small inconsistencies to get a non-slip finish. If you’re going to apply several layers, you’ll wait four hours between each coat.
You can get a range of bright colors and look for your concrete surface that makes it very eye-catching and durable.
The correct cure procedure is a huge step to ensuring that you get long-lasting results, so never skip it. Flo-Coat can get walked in within four hours of pouring it, letting it cure longer will make it more durable. You can apply Sakrete Cure N’ Seal immediately with a broom finish to enhance the whole curing process and reducing the need to wet cure the floor. If you’re not using it, the flooring has to stay consistently moist for three days. Covering it with plastic can help reduce how much you have to surface mist and keep the moisture levels even. Allow it to cure for a week before driving a vehicle on it.
Concrete Driveway Resurfacing DIY
Resurfacing your driveway is one of the many DIY projects you can do to boost your home’s curb appeal, protect the property value, and keep the exits and entry points easy and smooth. Although traditional concrete or asphalt driveways are too complex or impossible to DIY, you have other options with concrete stain or stamped concrete. Not only are these projects easier for you to take on by yourself, but they also give you a very customizable surface to work with.
Driveway Resurfacing Choices
When weeds start to grow through the cracks in your driveway, it may be time to think about concrete resurfacing. Cracks naturally appear in concrete or asphalt driveways as the changing temperature causes the driveway to contract and expand over the years. The cracks don’t look aesthetically pleasing, and if you don’t address them, they will eventually cause your driveway to take on an uneven or bumpy appearance.
You have several options to address these cracks when they appear. You can leave them alone, repair them, or resurface the driveway. If you choose to go with concrete resurfacing for your driveway, you have another decision to make. You have to decide about the type of surface you want to apply, and each one comes with benefits and drawbacks attached to it.
Asphalt and Concrete
If your driveway is currently concrete or asphalt, the natural response you may have is to repair the cracks. However, the repairs are usually visually obvious, and this makes your driveway look less consistent. You could always decide to resurface the driveway with the same type of material. If you choose to go with this option, it’ll eventually crack and need to be replaced or repaired again.
As a benefit, the installation cost is usually lower, but this also isn’t usually a DIY project that the average person can take on by yourself. So, you’ll have to hire professionals to do it for you, and this will cost you. Eventually, you’ll have to replace or repair the surface again, and the long-term costs can be higher. Also, most installations needs a three or five-day curing period that takes your driveway out of commission for a week. Depending on how many cars you have, your neighborhood, and the parking options, this can be very inconvenient.
Concrete Resurfacing and Stenciling
You create this type of surface by stenciling textures into a concrete overlay, and you can apply them on your own. The concrete stencils can look like natural slate, pavers, seashells, wood, and cobblestones, and this gives you several more options than concrete and asphalt. You can integrate colors into the concrete overlay itself, but it’s important to note that if one section has to get replaced in the future, it can be difficult to color match. Stenciled concrete can also be stained, and this is a better option as color matching is easier.
Stenciled concrete gives you the benefits of offering high compressive strength, resistance to thawing and freezing, and a slip-resistant surface. It can also come with a shorter curing period, and it’s ready for foot traffic a few hours after you pour it.
Concrete stamps or stencils are ways to add texture to your driveway to make it non-slip and unique.
Staining Existing Concrete
If your current driveway is in good shape but you want to swap the look, you can easily transform your dull, gray concrete into a more eye-catching colored finish. This is a much more cost-effective option than going for full concrete resurfacing, especially if you have no damage. You can apply concrete stain in two days, and this elevates the look of your driveway with a minimal money and time investment. This makes it a great way to boost your property’s curb appeal.
The Driveway Resurfacing Process
If you decide to go with DIY concrete resurfacing, staining the current surface or applying stamped concrete are the two easiest options. You can find attractive options for both methods.
Resurfacing and Customizing
Before you start your driveway concrete resurfacing process, you want to clean your driveway of any oil, loose debris, paint, or other contaminants that could affect the bonding process between the new surface and the concrete. This may require pressure washing, depending on the current driveway’s condition. Allow enough time for your concrete to dry out before you apply your resurfacing agent. If you see any cracks in the driveway, you’ll want to fill and repair them with a cement-based patching compound and allow them time to dry before curing.
When your surface is ready, you’ll mix your chosen product with the recommended amount of water, pour it on, and use a trowel or squeegee to create a smooth, even surface. At this point, you can allow the surface to cure or apply stamps to get your desired look. You can also apply a water-based sealer after a few hours. Once you apply your concrete resurfacing agent, it’s usually safe to walk on the surface within a few hours. You can usually drive on it after a day, and you can finish this project over a weekend.
If your current driveway is in good condition and you’re just trying to change the color, you can find solvent-based Aquacolrs or water-based options to do so. Unlike traditional paint, these items will allow you to create colorful patterns that won’t peel, chip, or crack. They are also resistant to UV damage, so they won’t fade. Both products require that you have a dry, clean surface before you apply them.
Pellucide Dye is available in 20 colors and you can combine them. You apply this concrete resurfacing option using an acetone sprayer, and it’ll dry in 15 minutes. Mix the product with the recommended acetone amount and apply it in even circles to get a uniform look. You can apply a spray-on sealer after the product dries. How long the product takes to cure will depend on which sealer you use.
Aquacolor comes in 19 shades that you can mix or apply in different concentrations to create deep, brilliant hues or a very subtle look. Mix the product with water, depending on the shade of color you want, and apply it using a garden pump sprayer or a high-volume low-pressure sprayer. You can apply multiple colors to get a unique look or get texture by using a sponge or roller. Apply a sealer to make it last longer.
Driveway Resurfacing Timelines
If you’re short on time, the concrete resurfacing method you pick out will make a huge difference. Resurfacing using asphalt or concrete usually takes between three and five days, and this doesn’t include the time needed to schedule a professional installer. Depending on which product you pick out, concrete stamping curing can take between 2 and 24 hours for light foot traffic, and 8 hours to 5 days for full use. You can use pavers right away after you finish the install, but they can take longer if a sealer or stain is applied. Stain can be ready to use in as little as a day, depending on the type of stain or sealer you pick out.
Concrete resurfacing is a project you can take on by yourself, but it’s a good idea to have a second person help you because you have to move so quickly once you start the pouring process. However, it’s a nice way to breathe new life into your driveway or concrete surface while saving time and money and boosting your home’s curb appeal.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.