Tips For DIY Resurfacing Of Your Home's Exterior Concrete

by Matt Lee

Is your exterior concrete looking a little disheveled? You have a couple of options if your concrete driveway, patio, or sidewalk is starting to show signs of disrepair. You can demolish the current surface and pour a new slab, or you can do a process called resurfacing. 

Resurfacing involves pouring a thin layer of concrete resurfacer on top of your current concrete. This is a perfect solution if you are trying to hide minor cracks, discoloration, or chipping. There are several commercially-available resurfacers available at your local hardware store, making it a terrific DIY project. 

If your existing concrete is unstable, has severe cracks, or is otherwise irreparably damaged, resurfacing might not be an option. Resurfacing also might not be a wise idea if you have heat resistant concrete or another specialty concrete that doesn’t use standard Portland cement. 

Otherwise, this step-by-step guide will walk you through DIYing resurfacing your exterior concrete. 

Step #1: Remove Large Debris 

The first step is pretty straightforward. Take time to remove any large debris, pieces of concrete, and weeds from your concrete surface.  

Step #2: Pressure Wash the Concrete 

Grab a pressure washer with a fan tip with a psi of around 3500. If you don’t have a pressure washer, you can purchase a pressure washing tip for your standard garden hose.  When you’re ready to wash, hold the pressure washer about three inches away from the surface of the concrete, and spray in one direction - doing so ensures that all the debris will move the same way. 

Once you’ve finished, allow the concrete to dry completely. This usually takes around two hours, but the temperature and humidity in your area can affect dry times.  

Step #3: Do a Final Sweep

Once your concrete is dry, do a final sweep for any dust that might have accumulated during the dry time. You don’t want anything to be on your concrete for the next few steps. 

Step #4: Cover Edges and Joints 

Using weather stripping tape, cover the edges, creases, and joints of your concrete. Your goal is to cover and protect the areas where you don’t want new concrete.  

Step #5: Fill in the Large Cracks 

Take your resurfacer and mix it with water until it has the consistency of peanut butter or cookie dough. Then, fill in any cracks or holes. Use a trowel to even it out after patching the cracks and holes. Once you repair them all, allow the resurfacer to dry for around six hours before moving on to resurface the rest of the concrete. 

Step #6: Wet the Concrete 

Slightly wet the surface of your concrete. You want it damp not wet, so be sure to sweep off any excess water before moving forward. Concrete is a porous paving material, so it absorbs moisture. Wetting it beforehand eliminates the likelihood that it will absorb the water in the resurfacer. 

Step #7: Apply the Resurfacer 

Mix enough resurfacer to cover your concrete. Pour the resurfacer onto the pavement, one section at a time, using trowels to even out the mixture as you go. If you weren’t able to keep it even while applying, use a squeegee to even out the resurfacer layer. 

Then, optionally, you can add a second layer of resurfacer while the first coat is still wet. This time mix a thinner layer. You want it to be about the consistency of pancake batter. This second layer will be easier to manage and keep even. Do this second layer for a more finished appearance.  

Step #8: Add Texture 

If you want your concrete to be less slippery or to have some texture, run a concrete broom over the top of concrete while it’s still wet. Also, be sure to shape and round out all the corners and sides, too. 

Step #9: Let Dry and Remove Tape 

Allow your mixture to dry for around six hours, and then remove the tape. You’ll want to wait an additional twenty-four hours or so before driving or walking on the new, resurfaced concrete to avoid messing it up. 

Step #10: Apply a Sealer 

Once everything is dry, you can apply a concrete sealer. Concrete sealers can help protect your concrete from UV rays, freezing temperatures, and general wear and tear and keep your concrete looking in top shape for years to come. Keep in mind that concrete sealers are beneficial, but you’ll need to remove old sealers before applying a new one, so there can be a bit of maintenance involved. Be sure to research how to apply and how to remove concrete sealer before deciding whether an exterior sealer is right for you. 

Enjoy Your New Concrete

That’s it. If you follow these ten simple steps, you can rejuvenate your worn-out concrete and make it look brand new in no time. 

About the author: Matt Lee is the owner of the Innovative Building Materials blog and a content writer for the building materials industry. He is focused on helping fellow homeowners, contractors, and architects discover materials and methods of construction that save money, improve energy efficiency, and increase property value.