How to Repair and Resurface Concrete Steps
By: Danny Lipford
Concrete steps are very durable, but exposure to the elements can take its toll over time, causing the concrete to crack and chip.
To repair and resurface concrete steps:
- Use a chisel and wire brush to rough up the surface and remove any loose concrete.
- Clean the surface thoroughly to remove any dust.
- To repair missing edges, make a wooden form to hold the concrete in place while it sets.
- Cover surfaces that will not be repaired with masking tape.
- Mix up concrete patching compound in a bucket, stirring it with a mixing paddle chucked in a drill.
- Add concrete acrylic fortifier to the concrete to increase bonding between the surfaces.
- Apply the patching compound to the steps to fill any gaps, smoothing the cement as it sets.
- Once the concrete patching material has set, apply a thin layer of concrete resurfacer to the top of the steps.
- Smooth the resurfacer, and add texture with a stiff brush to prevent slipping.
Watch this video to find out more.
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Danny Lipford: This week we’re looking at a number of repairs that you may be facing on the outside of your home. We’ve already looked at concrete driveways, asphalt driveways, but there’s another surface that a lot of homeowners have challenges with, and that’s concrete steps.
Now, this house is owned by a friend of mine, Brad, who bought it recently. It’s a 75-year-old house, plenty of little projects around here to do. But he’s well underway with a project to make his stairs look a heck of a lot better, and be a lot safer.
Before he started, the concrete caps around these brick stairs were cracked, chipped around the edges, and even the landing at the top was missing large chunks of concrete. Brad is the director of photography for our show, so he grabbed a copy of the Quikrete Guide to Concrete from our library and did some homework on this kind of repair.
The first step was roughing up all the surfaces with a chisel and a wire brush to give the repair material a good surface to grab onto. For some of the larger voids, he even had to create forms to support the repair material; which, in this case, is a quick setting cement mixed with an acrylic fortifier.
Then everything was cleaned to remove the dirt, debris, and dust. This mix is stiff, so it can be sculpted as it goes in. The acrylic fortifier improves bonding to existing surfaces, so this repair will last.
As it hardens, he’s able to work it more and more to get exactly the shape he needs, so that when the forms come off, the color is the only indication that there was ever a repair. We’re about to correct that.
Danny: Pretty good job on all of these, all of these corners. And you were able to kind of support all of these, but that always, someone comes down and breaks it out like that, it seems like.
Brad: Right, most of these, most of these posts were sort of dug out, you know erosion over the years. And that helped a lot to sturdy it up some. It looks a lot better, but you can still see that it’s very discolored, so that’s gonna be . . . resurfacing it is gonna sort of blend it all together.
Danny: All right, okay. So what, you want to mix, you’ve got the mixer here?
Brad: Yeah, the paddle bit’s already on it.
Danny: You pour, I’ll do this hard part. Dang, this thing is big enough to do a 55-gallon drum with it!
We’re mixing the resurfacer a bit thicker than normal because we have vertical surfaces to cover. And, in this small space, we’re using a wooden float to spread it, instead of a squeegee.
Brad: I’ve never done this before, so don’t be too critical.
Danny: No, just go thin.
It takes a little getting used to at first because the material doesn’t flow too well when it’s this thick, and working around these rails is a bit of a trick. But eventually we get the hang of it, and Brad starts coating the vertical surfaces with a masonry brush while I work on the horizontal.
Brad: It’s working out. I was a little nervous on that top step, but I think once it dries and we’re able to scrap it off. . . .
Danny: No worries, that’ll be all right.
All of the masking Brad did in advance really pays off, because it’s difficult to be very precise about where this stuff goes. As we get each step coated, we’re also using the brush to add a textured finish to the surface, so it’ll be safer to walk on than the old slick surface.
And you want to do this, and any last minute touch-ups, before the resurfacer completely cures. It’s also a good idea to remove the masking before it dries, so there’s no chipping when it comes off.
Danny: All right, let’s see Brad. We might as well start getting this off. You’re gonna have a few crumbs there on it for a little while. But that’ll sweep right off, cause it’s dried.
Brad: Yeah, it’s pulling off pretty clean.
Danny: Yeah, there you go. Lower it . . . lower it down. Yeah, like that, that’s less resistance. Yeah, there you go. You’re good . . . go on with it.
Brad: Cool. This looks great, Danny.
Danny: Sure does.
Brad: It looks awesome.
Danny: You’ll be able to do all the steps in the neighborhood, pick yourself up a little extra money.
Brad: I hope not!
Danny: Do one every Saturday.
Brad: I think one set is enough for me.
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