A durable and practical building material, concrete has been used in construction since at least the Roman times. The material has come a long way since then, but the same two things are still assured after it’s mixed and poured: it will get hard, and it will crack. While cracks in concrete are expected, they can be unsightly at best and can grow in size, damage property and devalue your home if left unchecked. Repairing structural or foundational concrete is one matter, but if your patio, path or driveway has developed cracks, gaps, holes or other damage, there are simple repairs you can perform yourself. Here’s how to do so.
Tools and materials
- Concrete repair mix
- Wire brush
- Mason’s trowel or putty knife
- Protective gear (dust-resistant clothes, gloves and mask)
Surprisingly enough, concrete surfaces cannot be mended using concrete. Instead, concrete repair mix should be used. This can be purchased at most home improvement stores or from online retailers such as Amazon.com. Popular options include epoxy compounds, latex patching material and mortar mixes. The first two products are appropriate for concrete cracks that are 1/8 inch wide or narrower. Mortar mixes are ideal for large cracks or chipped edges. (See Step 3 for how to create your own mortar mix.)
The cracked area must first be prepared before patching. This will be a dusty process, so be sure to wear proper protective gear, and consider placing a tarp beneath the work area to aid in cleanup. To begin, use a small hammer and chisel together to tap away any cracked, crumbling or loose material. Chisel down to a depth of approximately one inch below the surface of the concrete. When finished, thoroughly rinse the area and scrub with a wire brush to clear away any remaining particles.
Refer to the specific directions of your chosen patching product.
For cracks that are 1/8 inch wide or narrower, mix an epoxy or latex patching product. Use either a mason’s trowel or a putty knife to apply the product. Fill the crack completely, then smooth out the mix with the surrounding concrete.
For larger cracks or chips in concrete, mortar mix should be used. You can create your own mortar mix by combining one part Portland cement with three parts masonry sand and just enough water to create a thick paste. Moisten the area to be patched, then apply the mortar mix with the mason’s trowel or putty knife. Be sure to eliminate air pockets as you work by applying firm pressure on the product. Lastly, smooth the patch to make it level with the surrounding material. Allow the mix to set for two hours. (Fun fact: concrete products do not “dry” but rather “set” or “cure” – water does not leave the material but instead chemically combines with it to create a hard, dry final product.) Cover the patch area with a plastic sheet to keep it moist, and sprinkle water beneath the plastic every day for a few days or until the curing is complete and the surface is fully hardened.
Your driveway or patio may not be admired for centuries like the Roman Pantheon and aqueducts, but if you follow these repair steps, you can keep your concrete attractive and functional longer.