Be it for their driveways, patios, or flooring, concrete flatwork is a staple of many homes and for good reason. Concrete has nearly unmatched strength in the world of home construction and repair. Yet, concrete is designed for, but not necessarily for extreme, flexibility. Shifting soil and freeze and thaw cycles can cause concrete to crack and pull apart. Unfortunately, the same qualities that make concrete so strong also make it difficult to repair. For small cracks, an epoxy resin can be used for a manageable sealant. In some cases, new concrete can be poured over the old. More often than most homeowners would like, however, proper concrete repair requires removing the old concrete.
Common Areas for Concrete Repair
Subfloor: Most sub floors for living areas are made of framed wood. The sub floor is the structural floor underneath the hardwood or carpeted floors you walk on. Concrete sub floors are usually found in basements or in remodeled garages or patios.
Finished Floor: Most living areas are finished with tile, hardwood or carpet, but decorative concrete is beginning to change that. Special consideration (see below) must be given when considering repairing concrete for finished floors.
Garage or Basement: Concrete is the universal surface for garages and basements. These areas often get heavy traffic and require easy maintenance. Damage often is caused by dropped objects.
Driveway: These areas get heavy traffic from heavy objects. If you anticipate heavy traffic, you should consider adding steel reinforcement and pouring a thicker pad. Again, shifting soil and freeze cycles are common culprits.
Exterior Walkway: Concrete or stone masonry are popular options for exterior walkways. Stone masonry will be more decorative; however concrete will be less expensive and lower maintenance. Sitting water can cause a freeze-thaw cycle that will lead to repairing the concrete.
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Patio: Like walkways, concrete or stone masonry are popular options. Settling soil is a common cause of damage. Concrete pads reinforced with steel beams can prevent this. If the damage is severe, you may want to consider replacing the patio with a new pad. Attach the steel reinforcement beams into the house foundation for further strength.
Steps: A basic problem with concrete steps is settling; sometimes the steps will settle at a different rate than the porch or walkway. You can prevent this by replacing the steps with new concrete. Attach the steps to the patio or walkway with steel reinforcement. Concrete floors with special applications sometimes need special repairs.
Special Cases in Concrete Repair
Colored Concrete: Concrete can come in a wide variety of colors created by adding dyes to the liquid mixture. Fixing damage to colored concrete is tricky. Getting the right blend of colors is not an exact science. Don't expect a concrete repair contractor to create the perfect match. If a perfect match is critical, consider removing and replacing the area with new concrete.
Lightweight Concrete: Concrete comes in different forms with different mixtures of cement, gravel, and water. Some applications call for extremely lightweight concrete. Properly repairing concrete entails using an identical, lightweight mixture.
Cracked or Broken Edges: Unfortunately, any hard surface can chip or break away at the edges. Commonly caused by impact or erosion, cracks can be fixed if the problem is small.