Outdoor living spaces like patios add value to your home, while also increasing your ability to entertain and enjoy your environment. You have a wide variety of materials to choose from in order to create a patio, but concrete and flagstone are two of the more durable and aesthetically appealing options. Both of these materials can stand up to harsh weather; however, some maintenance will still be necessary to preserve them. If they are maintained correctly, patios made of concrete or flagstone can last for a very long time. Here are some ways you can keep your patio beautiful and functional.
Sweep dirt, debris, and lawn clippings off your concrete patio on a weekly basis. The combination of harsh weather and built-up dirt or yard waste can cause discoloration to concrete surfaces. Rinse your patio off every month or two, and pressure wash it at least once a year. When pressure washing, first soak the concrete with a mixture of baking soda and water before using the pressure washer. In addition, use a pressure washer that delivers between 2,000 and 3,000 PSI – this amount of pressure won’t damage the concrete.
Resealing is also important because it protects the concrete’s outer surface from water damage. The sealant soaks into the concrete’s pores and keeps it from absorbing water. It is a good idea to reseal your concrete patio every few years. There are different shades of sealant to choose from, making it possible to change or enhance to the visual appeal of your patio.
As with concrete, you will want to keep your flagstone patio swept clean to prevent dirt and yard waste buildup. If your patio’s surface is already stained, use bleach or diluted muriatic acid to remove the marks. Your acid solution should consist of one quart of muriatic acid to 2 gallons of water. Note that when you use bleach or muriatic acid, they will need to be rinsed off quickly so that they do not damage the stone surface.
Because flagstone is susceptible to water and food stains (especially if you cook or dine in your outdoor space), it is a good idea to seal it. This will keep your flagstone from staining and help to preserve the stone’s natural colors. Before applying sealant, repair or replace any chipped or cracked stones. Replacing damaged flagstones is easy if they have been installed without mortar. Simply lift the affected stone out and put another one in its place.
Whether you want to spice up your home’s exterior for a block party, improve its structural safety, or get your home ready to sell, there are several ways to breathe life into battered concrete. You may be able to complete smaller jobs yourself if you’re able to bend, lift premixed concrete bags, and use a caulking gun. But how do you know when the repairs should be done by a professional? Repairing concrete doesn’t have to turn into a nightmare if you understand what situations you can handle and which are best left to a contractor.
Tips for Repairing Concrete
Isolated cracks happen, but they’re usually not a sign of a major structural problem. Smaller concrete cracks will likely require only patching material. For larger cracks, you may be able to use a caulking gun and a tube of concrete repair caulk. You’ll need an inexpensive float tool that helps spread the concrete mixture evenly. Sweep away any loose surface concrete and dampen the area with water. Get these cracks covered so water doesn’t seep in and cause the crack to enlarge. Larger cracks may require a chisel to loosen up pesky concrete chunks before applying new patching material with bonding glue. Use a tamper to tamp the mixture into deeper cracks.
Concrete resurfacing may require a wheelbarrow or bucket for mixing bags of concrete. You’ll need to strip any paint or other finishes off the concrete before resurfacing. According to This Old House,
“You can coat the slab with a concrete resurfacer, a no-shrink blend of Portland cement, sand, and polymer additives that fills divots and makes a uniform finish. Its natural color is dark gray, so buy enough to cover your entire walk. One 40-pound bag coats about 35 square feet. If you want a different color, just add a concrete tint.”
Follow the instructions on the package about application temperatures. Note how long it will need to dry before being used or exposed to rain.
Curb Appeal and Non-Skid Surfacing
There are a variety of concrete coatings you can apply to your concrete to update its look and add a non-skid surface at the same time. However, these coatings can wear out quickly and contain extra steps, like sprinkling colored flecks on top of the epoxy.
Granite Grip by Behr enhances the look of your concrete while giving you a non-skid surface. Concrete can be slippery, so increased grip can help prevent slips and falls. This formula also fills in hairline cracks. Apply the formula to horizontal concrete using a brush or roller. Each can covers 50 sq. ft., and easily gives your concrete the sophisticated look of granite while providing safer footing.
Trust your gut! If you feel you could hurt yourself or just can’t do a quality repair — no matter the size — call a professional. These major problems will definitely require the help of a contractor:
- Sunken slabs. Sunken slabs may occur due to poor workmanship or sub-base erosion problems. A professional may need to add concrete under the surface to repair it or even break up the existing slabs and start from scratch.
- Widespread cracking. Numerous cracks, even if they’re only hairline, may be signs of an underlying problem that a professional needs to troubleshoot.
- Concrete thresholds. Repairing concrete thresholds may require higher strength concrete and steel reinforcement.
Repairing concrete around your home can be a breeze in most situations. But to ensure the best quality results, never hesitate to call in a professional.