Today we’re going to take a crack — or more precisely, repair a crack — regarding anything concrete.
So, if the cement pad leading to your front door has been damaged by the many years of winter salting, and could use a resurfacing, then let’s get that back to smooth. Or, if one of the concrete steps has a broken edge that’s proving to be a continual tripping hazard, that’s a repair in definite need of attention.
Once you become familiar with the process of mixing and troweling, and your hand/eye coordination in how you scoop out and apply the concrete is a little more fluent, we’ll take a crack at a horizontal repair, and address the loose cement that’s beginning to flake off your home’s foundation, referred to as the parging. Until then, let gravity be your friend, and start the learning process by addressing a few horizontal surfaces.
Are there restrictions or challenges to a successful cementing? Only one, that being: really hot, sunny weather.
The worst case scenario, or at least what would be considered a disappointing result, would be to repair and resurface a damaged walkway, only to have the surface develop cracks a few days later. What you don’t want the cement to do is dry too quickly. It might look and feel ready for traffic within the first few hours, but it’s still curing, and will need at least 24hrs of being covered with plastic, or continuously being sprinkled with water, in order to remain crack-free and bond to the existing concrete surface. Essentially, concrete is like a duck, in that it has no issue with lousy, rainy weather, and basically loves the water. So, unlike exterior paints or stains, which require temperature and atmospheric conditions next to ideal in order to have any success of sticking, if you look outside and see anything other than a tornado or tsunami heading your way, you’re pretty well good to begin the mixing procedure.
Tools for the job will include a pointing trowel (triangular in shape), a finishing trowel (rectangular in shape), a pail for mixing, steel brush, and although a pointing trowel is a good mixing device, maybe treat yourself to a paint/compound mixer that you can attach to your cordless drill, offering a convenient time and muscle saver.
Other than the pre-mixed compound itself, the only other component to this mixture is water. Although, there are concrete adhesive products available, recognized by their milky appearance, that can be added to a mix in lieu of water, or a portion thereof. It can then be brushed on to the concrete surface that’s to be repaired in order to encourage adhesion. These are really only necessary when using regular concrete and sand mixes. However, in the case of the homeowner attempting to resurface a step or walkway, simple is best.
So, where one inch thick of cement resurfacing compound should be enough to return this roughened surface back to smooth again, products such as the Bomix Spread’N Bond are recommended, since they already have adhesive products in their mix.
Surface preparation? Wet the area, brush it clean with a steel brush, rinse the area with your garden hose, and brush out any puddling water with a broom. Mixing procedure? Pour about a cup of water into a pail, gently shake in the Spread’N Bond mix, then squeeze the trigger on your cordless drill and commence mixing. You’re looking for a mix consistency that would allow you to form a ball with your hands. Use your pointing trowel to scoop the concrete out of the pail, plop it down on the surface, and spread roughly over the area of need. Then, switch to your finishing trowel to spread the mix to the desired thickness.
Once the area is resurfaced, gently drag a broom over the surface in order to provide a non-slip type of texture. Although it’ll be tough to resist, and you’ll certainly be proud of your endeavor, avoid signing off on this project with a handprint. It’s your front step, not a work of art.