Concrete Resurfacing - an alternative to paving
by Megan Macpherson
Old concrete driveways can be given a whole new look after being resurfaced. A resurfaced driveway can have the look of pavers or bricks, for a fraction of the price. This is done through coloured concrete, stamping and spraying, as well as creating patterns in the concrete with stencils. This concept applies to all concrete floor surfaces, such as courtyards, patios, pool areas, walkways, paths and backyards. This is an alternative to paving that goes over concrete, and saves the hassle of pulling up the concrete.
Concrete versus paving- concrete avoids buckling and mis-leveling which occurs with paving. Weeds can also grow up between pavers, unlike concrete which is sealed. On the other hand, pavers will not crack in response to earth movement, as concrete will. Cracks in concrete will need to be fixed, as they are noticeable. Concrete is a concrete decision. If you change your mind about the shape of a path, the size of a courtyard or patio, then to remove the concrete involves major demolition. With pavers, this is not as much of a problem, as they can easily be dug up and moved, or replaced by other kinds of pavers.
Concrete can be coloured using mineral oxide pigments, chemical stains and applied coatings. Mineral oxides are naturally occurring in rock, however artificially produced compositions are used more widely due to being fade resistant and chemically inert. They are supplied as a powder which is finer than the concrete and is added to the mix to mask the colour of the concrete. Integral colouring is when the entire mass of concrete is coloured, which makes the colour variations between batches more subtle. Coloured toppings can be poured onto an existing concrete slab, and bonded if is less than 50 mm deep, and unbonded if it is greater than 50mm deep. Coloured topping slabs may be poured on while the concrete is in its plastic or unhardened state. The two will bond together once hardened. Coloured topping can be poured on to a hardened slab, once the slab has been cleaned, scrubbed, and chipped back to expose the aggregate to the topping. Unbonded toppings can be placed on a smooth slab with a bondbreaker such as a plastic membrane.
Dry shake toppings is a colouring technique create using a blend of oxide powder, cement and sand. This is poured onto the surface of pre-hardened concrete, and worked into the surface with a trowel.
Chemical stains are another way to colour hardened concrete. They are poured onto the surface of the concrete and react with the chemicals in the concrete to produce a new colour. They do not usually produce even colour, and can appear mottled.
Another way to colour concrete is by using applied coatings, which can be sprayed on or applied with a particular finish or pattern.
Stenciling and stamped concrete is made by laying cardboard stencils over the concrete before it is hardened, and then using coloured powders to create the patterns and shapes. This is where the concrete can be made to look like bricks, pavers, stonework or any other design you can imagine. The surface of the concrete can also be brushed with a broom to give a coarse texture, which will make the surface slip free.
Stamping is made by using metal moulds or rubber mats to make imprints in the concrete after it has been coloured. The depth of the imprints varies as to what kind of look the concrete is supposed to resemble.
So resurfacing your old concrete driveway or garden path might be the cheaper way to go, especially if it needs maintenance work anyway. You can try to D.I.Y., but if you don’t have much experience with concrete, then get the professionals in. The front yard of your house will be given a whole new look after you transform your driveway, especially if that old grey concrete is now bright red.