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Does anyone know how to refinish a concrete walkway?
Old 04-07-2009, 06:59 PM   #1
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Does anyone know how to refinish a concrete walkway?

Our house has a long concrete walkway, from the driveway to the front steps (also concrete) that was poured in 1990. The surface is scored into 18 inch squares, two each side by side (walkway is 36 inches wide up to the steps, where it widens to 72 inches, and it is about about 35 feet long). The walkway has developed cracks that we tried to fill with concrete filler, but it looks very obvious, and the cracks are getting worse.

We'd like to avoid the large expense of having the whole thing jackhammered up and a new walkway laid. One solution we considered, was to put down a new layer of concrete and embed flagstones in it. Not sure either of us is handy enough for such a large job, though. Would hate to invest the time, money, and effort, only to have it scream "Amateurs were here."

I've had no luck hunting on the Internet for "concrete refinishing." It seems like it should be possible to fill the cracks properly, then put down a new layer of tinted concrete on top (I forgot to mention that the original white has turned a dingy beige color).

Anybody been in a similar situation? What did you do?

Thanks,

Amethyst
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Old 04-07-2009, 07:10 PM   #2
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In my last house I had my large patio redone . Tinted a slight color and a swirl pattern . I liked it a lot .It is a big business in Florida usually under patio re finishers or pool deck remodels. As I remember it was not terribly expensive .
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Purron's thread on concrete steps
Old 04-07-2009, 07:10 PM   #3
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Purron's thread on concrete steps

No sooner did I hit "submit" than I found a thread that Purron started on this very topic. So I'm following up the hints that Purron garnered, as well as seeking any additional hints. Then, we will see about taking concrete steps toward getting something done

(Purron, did you ever get your front steps refinished?)
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Old 04-07-2009, 10:13 PM   #4
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I've been eyeballing this stuff...

Quikrete at Lowe's: 40 lb. Concrete Resurfacer


...to resurface my patio. I have no experience with this product; just noticed it on the shelf.
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Old 04-08-2009, 01:08 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
We'd like to avoid the large expense of having the whole thing jackhammered up and a new walkway laid. One solution we considered, was to put down a new layer of concrete and embed flagstones in it. Not sure either of us is handy enough for such a large job, though. Would hate to invest the time, money, and effort, only to have it scream "Amateurs were here."
Anybody been in a similar situation? What did you do?
Funny you should mention this. We're in the middle of repairing our lanai/sidewalks, which also date from 1989.

An old 20'x20' outdoor lanai had been badly poured. The contractors said that there's just no way to put a thin layer of concrete on top to fix the dips & other problems without eventual shifting & spalling. So we had that jackhammered out and re-poured with the proper slope. During the demolition we found that a sprinkler line had been clamped off (plastic flex pipe, not PVC) and the water leakage had undercut the sidewalk. The ground subsiding under the sidewalk had caused it to crack. Our sidewalks have both cracked around the drain cleanout plugs from the kitchen/bathroom drains. One sidewalk slopes toward the house instead of away from it, and in less than 20 years rainwater has already effloresced the footing.

Concrete may not seem like rocket science but the contractors had a tremendous inventory of tips, tricks, special tools, and ways to work the concrete. No way we could have duplicated their experience, let alone achieved the proper slope and finish.

The rest of our sidewalks, lanai, and driveway had been covered in FuturaStone, which has no UV resistance and does not wear well in Hawaii sunshine. We've just had the FuturaStone scraped off to expose the bare concrete. Small cracks may be epoxied but bigger ones will be jackhammered out, the soil underneath stabilized & compacted, and repoured. They say that they have to "respect the cracks" by following the expansion joints and stabilizing the cracks-- or else the stamped concrete will eventually crack in the same way. After the concrete has been pressure-washed and etched, it'll be covered with an inch or two of stamped concrete.

Now that the FuturaStone is no longer hiding the concrete, we can see that one section of our sidewalk had been jackhammered out to connect a sprinkler line to the municipal/house water line and then repoured. The replacement concrete is darker, sandier, and eroding just from scraping tools across it. The contractor said it was poured from a Sacrete mix (too much sand, not enough cement) instead of a concrete mixer or a concrete truck. They're not sure that they're going to be able to salvage it-- easier to just repour the "correct" way instead of with "amateur" work.

One of our covered lanai has a round patch about three feet in diameter that's also a different consistency than the surrounding concrete-- again a bag of Sacrete dumped in by an amateur. The difference is that it's covered by a roof so there was no rainwater or other weathering. The contractors think they can live with that one. I'm wondering if we need to scope it with a metal detector or a ground-penetrating radar before we cover it over...

The issue with your cracks is that the ground underneath may be moving (or frost heave?) or the concrete may be losing its strength. You may have sewer/drain/sprinkler pipes underneath that could be moving or even collapsing. If you put more weight on top of everything then you'll just accelerate the motion/decomposition.

Spouse and I have talked about our concrete job for over five years and we spent a lot of time figuring out what we wanted. The contractors have been hugely busy during the housing boom but the recession is making the selection (and the price) much more "affordable". If you decide that you're going to continue to have a sidewalk there then I think it's worth consulting a contractor or two who've done soil stabilization and foundations, who may have the experience to diagnose what's causing the problems with your sidewalk, and the best way to fix it.

Otherwise you'll get to fix it every few years!
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Old 04-08-2009, 01:26 AM   #6
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Re: old concrete guys - we had some exposed aggregate done - the trick was to sprinkle sugar on top of the finished concrete. That "killed" the hardening action of the concrete on the surface, which allowed it to be washed off exposing the pea gravel. Simple little trick, great result. Amazed me.
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Old 04-08-2009, 10:43 AM   #7
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In this area, interlocking stone pavers are very popular. They are permeable, don't crack, and come in myriad patterns/colors. They're not terribly cheap but compare reasonably well to having concrete re-poured.

The folks at Sunset magazine (Sunset - How To Live In The West) also have great ideas for re-working concrete areas, and they have good alternatives to concrete as well.

Good luck!
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Old 04-09-2009, 07:30 PM   #8
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The issue with your cracks is that the ground underneath may be moving (or frost heave?) or the concrete may be losing its strength

Likely the latter, although frost heave is a definite possibility. There are no pipes under the walk. I also have no idea how much, if any, footing was put under the concrete. We came by on weekends to inspect the house while it was building, but we didn't often get to see things actually being done.

We'll consult some of the contractors from the helpful link in Purron's thread - see whether there's a way to fix trouble spots without having the whole shebang torn up and starting from scratch.
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