From Dan Harding on March 26, 2008 in Tools and Tips
Just about anyone who owns a home has some kind of concrete surface to deal with, whether it be a driveway, patio, or residential sidewalk. If your concrete has not been properly maintained over the years then you will have a number of unsightly blemishes or defects to contend with. Commonly you will find sinking and cracking, fading, or efflorescence (salt rising to the surface to crystallize there, causing decay or crumbling). Most of us tend to look upon our fading patio or cracked driveway with a sense of hopelessness or a shrug-it-off mentality under the imposing price tag of removing and replacing the concrete. Let these negative thoughts fade into memory, not your concrete! There are solutions that can make your concrete look as good as the day it was poured, without even a glance at a jackhammer.
If you’re lucky enough to have a concrete slab that is still free from physical defects (such as cracks) yet it still looks faded and old, then staining might be a viable option for you to make that slab look brand new. Chemical stains are made to penetrate the concrete and react with the material to create new (or renew old) color and vibrancy in the existing surface. Stains can be used on exterior and interior surfaces with a wide variety of effects. You can really get creative with staining.
More for exterior work, concrete sealers can both waterproof and brighten up your existing concrete surface. Any concrete surface should be sealed regularly (usually every few years) depending on the extremity of weather the concrete is subject to. If your driveway or patio is fading, it is likely due to a lack in this vital maintenance regimen. There are various types of concrete sealers, varying in chemical design. You can ask your concrete contractor about which sealant is right for your project and for information on distributors, costs, etc.
Most people who are searching for ways to beautify their fading concrete surfaces are seeing cracks and other failures in their slab. For you, an overlay would be an excellent, cost-effective choice to get that driveway/garage back to old form. An overlay is a thin layer of concrete mixture applied directly over your existing surface. Overlays are often freeze/thaw and salt resistant. However, understand that application of an overlay is very detailed and precise work. Many manufacturers of concrete systems require that certified, trained contractors install their product for warranty purposes.
NOTE: Even if you find it necessary to use an overlay system, it is still important to look into sealing and maintaining your new surface. Be sure to ask your concrete contractor about recommended sealers and a good maintenance regimen for your area.