Maintaining the concrete hardscaping around your home will help retain your homeâ€™s beauty and value and it is something that it usually well within the skill range of most home do-it-yourselfers.
Even well-laid concrete can develop cracks, chips and broken patches. If left untreated, those damaged areas can contribute to other areas of your walkway, patio or driveway deteriorating as well. Water can seep into small cracks and openings and when it freezes, the pressure created can increase the size of the cracks and even create new ones or cause surface areas to lift away. It is vital to find and seal the cracks and openings before this happens. The best time to check for cracks is in the spring, when the weather has warmed.
Deciding on which concrete repair product to use can be the most difficult part of the process. Check with the experts at your local hardware or home center for their recommendations but basically you will want to use a patching compound if the cracks are large or if surface patches have broken away, or a sealant product if the cracks are small, one-eighth to one-half inch wide. Sealants work well with both horizontal cracks, like on a patio or walkway surface as well as vertical cracks that may have developed along the foundation of your house or garage.
If the concrete you are repairing has been colored, now is the time to buy a colored sealant or patch, or to buy a colorant to add to the product you will apply so that your repair will match the existing surface.
Do your repairs on a warm day when no rain is expected. Begin by cleaning the area well. Use a wire brush to remove any debris from the area. Leaves or grass that have gotten into the crack or loose cement will keep the sealant from getting into the cracks and bonding to the cement. Next clean the area with concrete/asphalt cleaner to remove any grease that could also prevent a good bond.
Create an opening in the tip of the sealant tube no bigger than the width of the crack, which will assure that you get the sealant into the crack and not beside it on the surface. Using a caulking gun, slowly squeeze the gun trigger so that a slow, steady stream of the sealant goes into the crack, filling it only to the surface.
If the crack is very deep, fill it a quarter of the depth with sand and then apply the sealant to fill the crack halfway. Add more sand to fill to a depth of three-quarters of the original depth and add more sealant to fill the crack to the surface level.
For vertical cracks the procedure is similar. Clean the area with a wire brush, then use the cleaner to remove any grease, followed with the sealant, applying it at an angle just until the crack is filled.
Once the sealant is dry, use a fine-grit sandpaper to remove any overfill and to feather the edges. Your concrete surfaces will give you many more years of good-looking service with a little tender loving care.