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Does Concrete Resurfacing Last?

Concrete is a fantastic construction material used all around the world for centuries. It’s versatile, easy to work with, relatively cheap and fairly easy to come by. Simply mix aggregate stone, sand, cement and water to make very strong concrete. Throw in some reinforcing steel rebar and you can make huge scale structures like buildings, bridges and dams. Or keep things small and make some concrete countertops or cast products. The most common thing people make out of concrete is flatwork. Things like patios, floors, sidewalks, walkways and driveways. But as strong and durable as concrete is, it doesn’t last forever. Eventually the surface will have some damage typically caused by weather, the freeze/thaw cycle, vibration, impacts, weight, or sun damage. When that happens should you replace the entire slab or reface it? And does concrete resurfacing last?

Concrete resurfacing is a very popular way to refinish concrete. It’s done in much the same way as refinishing a hardwood floor. A top thin layer of concrete is removed and a new layer is poured on top. This new layer is specially made to adhere to the old concrete. It’s extremely durable while being relatively thin and can last 10-20+ years if properly installed by a Pro and cared for. So yes it can last.

Concrete resurfacing provides a like new finish at an affordable price. In this article we’ll answer the most common questions we get asked along with some valuable info and tips from the builder.

What Is Concrete Resurfacing?

Instead of demolishing an old concrete slab, you can refinish it instead. The top layer of concrete is removed, minor cracks are repaired, and a new surface is poured. The material used to create this new layer is called a resurfacer. Although a resurfacer looks like normal concrete, it’s not.

A resurfacing compound has special bonding agent inside it’s mix that allows it to bond with old concrete. If you were to pour new concrete on top of old without a bonding agent the two layers wouldn’t stick together. This results in two thin layers sitting on top one another instead of a single slab of thick concrete. Eventually one or both of these thin slabs will crack.

In addition to the bonding agent, resurfacing compounds also include additives that make it extremely strong, even in thin layers. A typical concrete slab is around 4-6 inches thick. But a resurfacing layer can be as little as a 1/2 inch. Although we generally recommend at least an inch. It’s a very dense layer that’s durable and lasts for years if properly cared for.

What Does Resurfaced Concrete Look Like?

A resurfaced concrete floor looks almost identical to a typical new concrete floor.

Poured concrete slabs don’t all look the same. Depending on the mix that was used, color, stamping, finish, etc. you can create all sorts of looks. But there are a variety of finish options with resurfacing too. You can usually make a resurfaced slab look just like the original concrete if that’s the look you want.

This is in contrast to repaired concrete which generally shows repair work. Since the entire top surface is redone with a resurfacing compound you can’t tell the difference.

Once a resurfacer is poured you can do pretty much do all the same things to alter its appearance as regular concrete. The most common options are.

  • Color. Colors can be added into the mix or spread on top as the resurfacer hardens.
  • Texture. If you want your new top layer a little less slick then add some texture to the surface. It gives the concrete a sandpaper feel.
  • Stamps. Add some additional detail with stamps. There are dozens of shapes to choose from.
  • Finish. A finish coat can be added to seal the concrete and add a little shine. These are just like paint and range from matte finish to high gloss.

Can My Concrete Be Resurfaced?

Concrete resurfacing removes the top layer of a concrete slab and then pours a new layer of resurfacer. In the end the entire slab will look brand new. But it won’t be. Only that thin top layer is new. If the underlying concrete is damaged, cracked, deteriorating, etc. Then the concrete is not a good candidate for resurfacing.

If the structural integrity of the underlying concrete is compromised and/or there are deep cracks throughout the slab, replacement is typically a better choice. The problems with the underlying slab can end up damaging the new resurfaced layer.

For example, if you add a new top layer to a damaged and/or cracked slab, those cracks are just covered up not repaired. And the cause of that damage hasn’t been fixed either.

If you want your resurfaced concrete to last it need to be poured over a strong secure base of original concrete that’s damage free. If that’s not the case then you’ll have to do the necessary repairs or replace everything.

Another option is to do a partial removal. Demo the really bad areas and leave what’s good. In the end it all comes down the price.

The best way to determine if resurfacing is an option is to consult with a Mason. They’ll be able to assess the existing concrete and determine if it’s a good candidate for resurfacing.

When Should Resurfacing Be Done?

Resurfacing conditions are the same as pouring traditional concrete. Above freezing temperatures and a dry environment are best. Try not to pour when it’s extremely hot either because the resurfacer could dry too quickly. Water evaporates from the mix much faster when it’s really hot out.

Extremely cold temperatures should be avoided because the water inside the resurfacing mix can freeze. When that happens the compound can crack and in some cases completely deteriorate.

The best weather for resurfacing is 70 degrees and sunny. Not too hot or too cold. Of course it’s not always possible to pour on a perfect day so just stay away from extremes. And check the weather. Never pour a resurfacer or any concrete product when it could rain.

If your working indoors then it’s fine to resurface concrete any time because the temperature and humidity can be controlled.

Cosmetically speaking, you should resurface concrete when it starts to look bad. It’s mainly done for looks. If your old concrete floor is cracking, chipping, flaking, deteriorating or showing other signs of wear and tear then it may be time to redo it.

How Much Does Resurfacing Cost?

Prices will vary based on the size and current condition of your existing concrete surface. But generally speaking its much cheaper than totally replacing the concrete.

There are a few issues to consider when calculating the price of resurfacing.

  • Repairs. Once the top thin coat of concrete is removed damage to the underlying slab should be repaired. Depending on what you find this stage could get expensive. Some times you can’t see damage until the top layer of concrete is removed.
  • Thickness. The thicker your new resurface coat is the more it will cost. Generally this isn’t a big difference because the compound isn’t too expensive and labor is about the same. But it’s still a little more.
  • Additives. Color, texture, finishes, and stamps all add additional cost to the job.
  • Access. Access to the job site is a factor whenever your dealing with concrete work. This is especially true when machinery is involved. If the entire job needs to be done by hand then expect to pay more.

Average Concrete Resurfacing Costs Per Square Foot

Below is a chart showing the typical cost to resurface concrete per square foot. Keep in mind that this is just for the resurfacing portion of the job. Add additional costs for things we already discussed like access, repairs, etc. Pouring the resurfacer is sometimes the easiest and least expensive part of the job.

Type Per Square Foot Per 100 Square Feet
Basic $3 – $5 $300 – $500
Decorative (Additional color, polishing, finishes) $5 – $10 $500 – $1,000
Stamped $8 – $20 $800 – $2,000

How Long Does Resurfacing Last?

Thanks to its durability, concrete resurfacing can last a long time. Considering it’s been properly installed, well cared for and the existing concrete base is strong. A properly resurfaced floor can last from 10-20+ years.

Longevity is one of the reasons proper installation and repair of the existing concrete are so important. If you pour a resurfacing coat on damaged concrete, then it won’t last long. Don’t get resurfacing confused with repairs. Resurfacing a concrete slab doesn’t fix underlying issues. It covers them up. The slab may look brand new when complete but underneath it can have serious structural issue if you didn’t fix them.

Another big issue is maintenance. Concrete doesn’t need any maintenance, but it benefits from it. If you seal concrete it will generally last a lot longer. Especially if the concrete is outdoors. A sealant will keep out water and can protect against harmful UV sun damage. If you want your resurfacing to last then I highly recommend you care for it with a good quality sealer.

Last is the root cause of your existing slabs damage. This is the reason your resurfacing in the first place. If you don’t deal with the cause after you resurface the slab, the damage will just repeat itself. This is mainly due to lack of maintenance or a problem with the old concrete. Most people that resurface a driveway or patio have some cracks, chips, flakes or deterioration. This is generally caused by sun damage, water or concrete issues.

Make sure you properly install the resurface layer and maintain it.

Can I Resurface My Own Concrete?

While you can purchase a resurfacer at just about any local hardware store, I generally wouldn’t recommend doing it yourself.Unless your sure the existing slab is in good condition then you should probably hire someone to help you. Preparation is very important when resurfacing concrete. If you use on top of a damaged slab then the resurfacer won’t last long before it starts to crack.

Also, a resurfacer needs to be applied correctly. If your not experienced with concrete work the finish may not look great. After the resurfacer is poured and setting you can give it a broom or smooth finish, trowel the edges, add color and texture, or just finish is natural. But all these things take some time and experience. Working with concrete can be stressful because everything has to be done at the right time before the concrete hardens.

Concrete resurfacing also requires concrete tools to finish it. Luckily they’re not that expensive to buy but it still costs extra money. But if you’ve got the experience and the tools already then of course you can do it yourself.

If you find damage in the existing slab then I’d recommend hiring a contractor to make repairs. You should never pour a resurfacer on top of damaged concrete.

Can You Stain Resurfaced Concrete?

Yes. You can use stains on resurfaced concrete in the exact same way you would on regular concrete floors.

Make sure you only use concrete stains. Wood and other types of stains are not meant for concrete.

Concrete stains chemically react with the concrete, or in this case the resurfacer, to permanently change it’s color. Stains are not a paint. Once you stain the resurfaced layer there’s no undoing it. And the color doesn’t always match what’s on the swab since the stain interacts with the concrete. make sure to test the color out on a small area first.

In general, any product sold for use on concrete will also work on a resurfaced surface.

Tips To Make Concrete Resurfacing Last

Here are a few important tips to follow when resurfacing your concrete slab. Especially if you want the resurfaced layer to lat.

  • Repairs. Make sure you repair damage to the existing concrete before pouring the resurfacer. If you don’t, the resurface coat probably won’t last long.
  • Cleaning. Always clean the existing slab prior to pouring the resurfacer. This is very important. A resurfacing compound has special ingredients that make it bond to the existing concrete. If the slab is covered in dirt or dust then it won’t bond properly. The result will be a thin new layer sitting on top of old concrete rather than one thick new slab.
  • Finish. There are a lot of gimmicks out there that you should avoid. It doesn’t matter that it’s a resurface coat. Finish the new coat in the same way you would new concrete.
  • Inspection. If your thinking of doing a DIY resurfacing of your concrete driveway, patio or walkway, then do an inspection first. If you find damage that needs repair and it’s more than you can handle then hire a Pro. Do not pour a resurface coat on damaged concrete.
  • Maintenance. Even though concrete doesn’t need maintenance, it definitely benefits from it. Use a good quality sealer. Especially if your concrete is outside. It will help the resurface layer last longer by sealing out water and potentially blocking harmful UV sun damage.

Summary: Does Concrete Resurfacing Last?

Concrete is a fantastic construction material used all around the world for centuries. It’s versatile, easy to work with, relatively cheap and fairly easy to come by. Simply mix aggregate stone, sand, cement and water to make very strong concrete. Throw in some reinforcing steel rebar and you can make huge scale structures like buildings, bridges and dams. Or keep things small and make some concrete countertops or cast products. The most common thing people make out of concrete is flatwork. Things like patios, floors, sidewalks, walkways and driveways. But as strong and durable as concrete is, it doesn’t last forever. Eventually the surface will have some damage typically caused by weather, the freeze/thaw cycle, vibration, impacts, weight, or sun damage. When that happens should you replace the entire slab or reface it? And does concrete resurfacing last?

Concrete resurfacing is a very popular way to refinish concrete. It’s done in much the same way as refinishing a hardwood floor. A top thin layer of concrete is removed and a new layer is poured on top. This new layer is specially made to adhere to the old concrete. It’s extremely durable while being relatively thin and can last 10-20+ years if properly installed by a Pro and cared for. So yes it can last.

Concrete resurfacing provides a like new finish at an affordable price.

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