8 Steps for Making Your Sad Patio Look Brand New Again

If your less-than-perfect patio is an eyesore—take heart—a simple resurfacing project can restore it to its original good looks in a single weekend.
This content is paid advertising created in partnership with Quikrete. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.

Follow these tips for a smooth finish

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concrete patio resurfacing tips

While it’s one of the strongest and most durable construction materials around, even concrete suffers over time from stains, cracks, and surface flaking (aka spalling), leaving it looking old and worn. When the concrete in question is a patio, it can detract from the look and feel of the entire yard. Resurfacing a worn-out patio is a straightforward DIY project when using a product such as Quikrete Re-Cap Concrete Resurfacer. A few basic tools, a free weekend, and a couple of friends who are ready to roll up their sleeves is all that’s needed to give that pathetic patio a fresh new look—without the expense or labor that’s involved in tearing out and re-pouring it.

The secret to a successful patio resurfacing project lies in correctly prepping the surface and then applying the product uniformly. Keep reading to discover eight steps for getting the best results with Quikrete Re-Cap, and check out this video to watch a resurfacing project from start to finish.

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1. Clean It Like You Mean It

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clean patio before resurfacing

In order for Re-Cap to form a strong bond to the patio’s surface, the existing concrete must be meticulously cleaned. Grease, paint spills, and even algae and mildew can reduce the resurfacing product’s adhesion, so don’t hold back when it comes to cleaning. Sweep, scrub, and scrape away all dirt and debris, and follow that with a thorough washing with a high-power pressure washer (3,500 psi or higher). Using a pressure washer is a vital step in making sure the existing concrete is clean enough, so don’t skip it—you won’t get the same results from a spray nozzle.

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2. Make Repairs in Advance

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repair damage to patio before resurfacing

For a smooth, long-lasting patio, cracks and uneven areas of the existing patio should be repaired before applying the resurfacing product. This can be accomplished by mixing a small amount of the Re-Cap product with water until it reaches a paste-like consistency and then using a concrete trowel to smooth the mixture into holes and indentations. If areas of the existing patio are raised, such as a high spot or a ridge, grind those areas level with the rest of the patio using a walk-behind concrete grinder (for large areas) or a handheld angle grinder fitted with a diamond grinding disc (for small spots). The smoother the existing patio is, the smoother the finished surface will be after resurfacing.

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3. Work in Sections and Maintain Control Joints

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Use Control Joints to Section Off Work Area

Because Quikrete Re-Cap is a cementitious product, once you begin to apply it, you'll need to continue the application process over the entire section before it starts to set and becomes difficult to use. You should work in sections less than 144 square feet in size (12-feet-by-12-feet) and maintain existing control joints to dictate where cracks will happen in the future (unfortunately, all concrete will crack eventually) You can do this either by inserting flexible weather-stripping into the joints or by covering the joints with tape to keep the resurfacing product from spilling.

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4. Pre-wet the Patio

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Pre-wet the Patio when resurfacing concrete

On a hot, dry day concrete will quickly suck the moisture out of cementitious products causing it to set too quickly, which makes it difficult to use and susceptible to cracking. Before applying Re-Cap, wet and rewet your patio until it’s saturated with water before removing any standing water with a bristle broom or squeegee. This will help keep the resurfacing product from drying too quickly so you avoid cracks and have adequate time to get a professional looking finish.

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5. Develop a Plan and Work Quickly

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work quickly when resurfacing

Before mixing the resurfacing product, gather together all the tools you’ll need: a 5-gallon bucket for mixing, a drill with a paddle bit, a large squeegee for spreading the product, and a push broom for creating a non-slip finish. At around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (ambient temperature), Re-Cap offers a work time of 20 minutes if the patio has been thoroughly saturated. As the outdoor temperature rises, work time is reduced, so make sure you’re ready to complete the process once you start. Recruiting one or more workers—and making sure everyone knows what job they’ll be doing—will make the project go more smoothly.

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6. Keep Coverage Consistent

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consistent coverage when resurfacing concrete patio

The trick to a successful resurfacing project is to mix and apply the product in an identical manner to each section. A single 40-pound bag of Re-Cap will cover about 90 square feet of existing concrete to a depth of 1/16-inch when mixed with 2.75 to 3.25 quarts of water. You can apply Re-Cap up to 1/2-inch thick, but it might be easier to control uniformity if you apply two 1/4-inch-thick coatings (allowing the product to harden between coats) rather than applying a single thicker coat.

Aim for the consistency of pancake batter when mixing Re-Cap, and be sure to use a heavy-duty drill fitted with a paddle bit. Hand mixing can leave lumps that will detract from the finished look. For uniformity, it helps to have one worker pour out an even strip (about 1-foot wide) of the product and have another worker trowel the product over the surface.

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7. Broom for Safety

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broom finish concrete patio

A completely smooth concrete surface can become slippery when it’s wet, so it’s a good idea to add a broom texture to the resurfacing product as it begins to harden. This is best accomplished by pulling—not pushing—a stiff bristle broom from one side of the section to the other in long, uninterrupted strokes. The direction of the strokes should be perpendicular to the natural flow of foot traffic—on a patio, this is usually perpendicular to the door that opens onto the patio.

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8. Let it Cure

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cure concrete patio

The new patio surface will feel hard to the touch soon after spreading it out, but wait at least 8 hours before walking on it, and wait until the following day before putting patio furniture in place. The product needs a bit more time to harden and bond securely to the existing concrete. The color will lighten as it cures.

By following these tips and best practices, you’ll soon have an updated patio that you’ll be proud to show off to family and friends.

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