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Installations of concrete can last hundreds of years, but sooner of later, most end up developing small cracks and gaps, holes and crevices. If your concrete path, patio, or driveway has begun to show its age, make the necessary repairs sooner rather than later. After all, what’s a small problem today is only going to get bigger and more difficult (or expensive) to fix. While in some cases it takes a pro to work successfully with concrete, almost anyone can fix cracks in concrete. Here’s how it’s done.
MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Concrete repair mix
- Wire brush
- Mason’s trowel (or putty knife)
- Protective gear
Concrete surfaces cannot be repaired with concrete. Instead, use a concrete repair mix; these are readily available at most home improvement retail chain stores. Options include epoxy compounds, latex patching material, and mortar mixes. This last option works best to fill large cracks (or chipped edges), while the other products are suitable for cracks in concrete that are 1/8 inch wide or narrower.
It’s important to prepare the cracked area for patching. First, use a small hammer and chisel in combination to knock away any cracked, crumbling, or loose concrete. Chip to a depth of about one inch below the surface plane. Then, rinse the area thoroughly, scrubbing with a wire brush to dislodge any loose, lingering particles. Bear in mind that this is dusty work. To facilitate cleanup, you may wish to spread a tarp beneath the work area. Most important, be sure to wear the proper protective gear.
Epoxy or latex. To cracks 1/8 inch wide or narrower, apply an epoxy or latex patching product, mixed according to the manufacturer’s specifications. The material goes on either with a mason’s trowel or a putty knife. Force it all the way into the crack, then smooth the product level with the surrounding concrete. Different mixes cure differently; again, consult the directions listed on your chosen product.
Mortar mix. For larger imperfections in concrete, use a mortar mix. Creating your own mix is as simple as combining one part Portland cement, three parts masonry sand, and just enough water to form a thick paste. Moisten (but do not drench) the problem area, then apply the mortar mix with either a mason’s trowel or a putty knife. As you work, take pains to eliminate air pockets by pressing down firmly on the applied product. Finally, smooth the patch so that it’s level with the surrounding concrete. Let it cure for about two hours, then cover the area with plastic sheeting to keep it moist. Sprinkle water under the plastic every day for a few days or until the surface has hardened up.