What is Concrete Resurfacing?
Concrete resurfacing is a relatively common type of home upgrade. It involves pouring an additional layer of concrete over an existing surface and using it either as a smooth surface or as a chance for a new design twist on your home. There is a wide range of options available for you if you’re thinking of updating the concrete in your home.
This guide will talk you through what concrete surfacing is, whether it’s right for you, and some of the different options available. There is a concrete resurfacing option to fit every budget.
HOW DOES CONCRETE RESURFACING WORK?
Most of us have some concrete in our homes, whether that is on the driveway, in the basement, around the pool area, patio, or other floors throughout the home. Concrete is an extremely common part of any home project, and yet it’s rarely considered for its aesthetic properties. However, concrete doesn’t have to be all about practicalities. This is where concrete resurfacing comes in.
Concrete resurfacing is more or less exactly how it sounds. Instead of taking out broken concrete: removing the slabs, and relaying the concrete section (or the entire area of concrete), you simply place a new surface on top. This gives a new finish to the concrete and can improve the aesthetics and the structure of the concrete.
It’s obviously not a solution to major structural issues (in which case, resurfacing can actually be dangerous, in that it can lead to a false impression that the concrete is sound and solid underneath); however, for minor issues, resurfacing is a simple and cost-effective solution.
It works by using the existing concrete structure as a base. On top of that, new concrete is poured. Because you already have a solid bed of concrete, you actually don’t need to pour too much additional concrete – which keeps materials costs down. Then you smooth over the surface or apply a new decorative finish.
All in all, the process is extremely simple and doesn’t take a great deal of time. This also helps to keep labor costs new. Very quickly, you can change the appearance of your concrete, with very little costs involved (for a deeper breakdown of the costs, see the section below).
WHEN TO REPLACE AND WHEN TO RESURFACE
The first and most important point to make is that you shouldn’t resurface as a way to cover over major damage. You should think of resurfacing as like varnishing a piece of wood. If you had a wooden chair that was cracked, you wouldn’t varnish or paint it and then leave it—the same with concrete resurfacing.
As with any type of home repair,
the first instinct may be to patch up any damage rather than totally overhaul and replace the system. However, like other types of damage, a small amount in the short term can very quickly become a large amount. Think of your concrete as analogous to the windshield on your car; that small crack will eventually become a large crack, which will eventually require the entire windshield to be replaced. If there is major damage, you’ll need to get it properly repaired before you even think about resurfacing.
Of course, if you are in any doubt as to whether you need a full resurfacing, you should speak to a professional (or, ideally, multiple professionals) who will be able to advise on whether you need to service or not. However, the following circumstances are ones that are most likely to permit resurfacing:
The two main categories for requiring a resurface, therefore, are when there is only superficial damage or if you don’t like the look of your concrete. For major structural damage, you’ll need to look at a full replacement. For everything else, a small resurfacing job will suffice.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CONCRETE RESURFACING?
There are five main benefits to resurfacing your concrete:
It is far easier than removing your existing concrete and starting again from scratch. This is fairly self-explanatory, although again, it bears mentioning that this is not a solution if you have major damage to your concrete.
It saves time and money compared to a full re-pour. For most of us amateurs, concrete resurfacing is within our level of ability, whereas a full concrete removal and re-pour simply aren’t. That’s the difference between a weekend of work and some inexpensive materials and a thousand-dollar bill from a professional team.
It provides resilience to your concrete. If you add a new layer of concrete on top of your existing concrete, it will provide it with extra protection from wear and tear, weather, and other damage. This can buy you extra years before you’ll need to take further action.
You can update the aesthetics. As fashions change, you may find the patterns in your concrete to be outdated. A new surface allows you a blank slate to try something new and to bring the overall look up to date.
Your home will look updated. A shoddy piece of concrete in, for example, your driveway, can give a bad first impression. A resurfacing job will give you a brand new, smooth driveway that will lend an air of care and ‘classiness’ to your home. It’s like giving the walls paint or the hardwood floors a new coat of varnish.
As with any home DIY project, precisely when to undertake the work is up to you, although it’s a job that’s usually best done in the Spring or Fall when the temperatures are relatively stable. Doing it in high Summer or Winter can lead to cracking, which will undermine some or all of the benefits listed above. Since none of the benefits are necessarily time-sensitive, you can wait, do your research, and then make sure you get the real benefit of resurfacing. That also allows you to control the costs, which will be discussed in the section below.
HOW MUCH DOES CONCRETE RESURFACING COST?
Overall, the cost of resurfacing will cost somewhere between $3 and $25 per square foot if it is undertaken by a professional. The factors that shape where you fall within that range are as follows:
The size of the existing surface
Although the price is listed as being per square foot, if you have a larger area, there is an economy of scale, which will reduce the overall cost.
The design features
As mentioned above, much of the rationale for resurfacing is based on aesthetics. You can choose from a wide range of features, including different colors, textures, and other superficial factors. Naturally, each of these has a different price tag.
Existing concrete condition
If you have no issues with your concrete, then a professional will require only minor prep work, which will keep costs down. If you have cracking or other damage, if the surface is uneven, or any sort of materials (such as tiling) on the concrete, then there is a lot of additional labor involved, which will increase the bottom line of the job. The simple equation – the easier the concrete is to resurface, the cheaper the job will cost.
As with absolutely any home service, the cost of concrete resurfacing will be affected by the cost of living in your area. A home in Los Angeles will cost more than a home in rural Alabama because the cost of living is so dramatically different in those areas.
To put all of the above a different way: there is basically an option for every budget. Indeed, it’s even possible to do the work yourself and just buy the materials.
For the most basic repair mortar (including Portland cement and sand), you’ll pay somewhere around $4.00 per gallon. Depending on the size of your concrete area, this may be enough to cover the entire project. Then you’ll just need to add in your own time.
Ultimately, whatever your budget, there is a concrete resurfacing option for you. The first question you need to answer is why you are thinking of getting a resurfacing in the first place. Many companies have the ability online to see what different colors and patterns would look like around your home.