Concrete and Asphalt Repair
By Jim Sulski
Summary: Cracks in concrete and asphalt are easy to repair. Fix driveways and stairs yourself concrete, simple tools, and these tips.
Not only are cracks and gouges in sidewalks, stairs and driveways unsightly, they are downright dangerous.
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Despite its sturdiness, concrete falls victim to Mother Nature's freeze-thaw cycle.
The drastic change between hot and cold temperatures causes concrete to constantly expand and contract, with the results being small cracks in the surface.
Then, water gets into those cracks and come winter, freezes up, pushing up the surface so that larger flaws - or miniature versions of potholes - begin the form.
Improper installation and general wear and tear also adds to the breakdown of concrete and asphalt.
Repairing concrete is a fairly simple process, with one caveat. The patches are never aesthetically pleasing and they are never permanent.
Typically, you can get five to ten years out of a concrete patch. For the price of the repair - usually a few dollars - that's a fairly good deal. The first step in concrete repair is to remove all the debris and loose pieces of sidewalk, stair or driveway.
Use a hammer and cold chisel to chip away any concrete that appears to be unstable. With large cracks, try to chip away at the concrete so that the crack becomes larger at the bottom and narrower at the top.
Then, thoroughly remove the debris with a vacuum cleaner, an air hose or a water hose.
If the crack or flaw is on the outside end of a sidewalk or driveway, you'll need to build a form - a sort of mold - to prevent the patching compound from spreading on lawn. The simplest type of form is a piece of wood two-by-four that can be applied to the side of the sidewalk. To keep it in place, nail a couple of stakes or pegs alongside of it in the ground.
A concrete block, bucket or water or other heavy item may also do the trick.
Next, mix the patching compound with water, adding only a little water at a time. Remember, the drier the consistency of the mix, the stronger the patch will be.
There are also premixed concrete patching products also available.
Dampen the crack with a fine spray of water. You can then coat the damaged area with a bonding agent, which can improve the adhesion between the patching compound and the existing concrete.
Pack the patching compound into the crack with a steel trowel and smooth it down as best as you can. Large or long cracks can be smoothed down with a two-by-four.
When the compound starts to set or dry, usually in about 30 minutes, brush or float it so that it is level with the rest of the sidewalk or driveway surface. Again, you can use a trowel or a piece of two-by-four for larger patches.
Lay a damp piece of canvas or burlap over the patch until it dries completely and hardens. Set up a barrier so no one walks on the patch. Avoid stepping on it for a day or so.
The patch should be cured - kept warm and most - for several days. You can do this by covering the patch with a wet piece of canvas or burlap, or by spraying the surface with a garden hose and then covering it with plastic sheets weighted down by stones.
Patching concrete stairs require slightly more effort as you are working against gravity. That may require a bit more creativity when it comes to creating a form or forms to hold the patch.
For example, if the crack is on the middle edge of a step, the form should be slightly wider than the riser, the vertical part section of the stair that comes up from the tread.
If you're repairing a broken corner, you'll need to connect two forms in a right angle to cover the corner. Plastic tape or wood screws are both efficient ways of connecting the forms.
Then, you'll need to figure out how to support the forms securely against the steps. Concrete blocks or buckets of water usually have enough weight to hold the risers in place. You can also use two-by-fours as props to hold the forms in place. Anchor the two-by-fours into the grounds with a stake.
Then, patch the crack as directed above. The new step patch should be cured for as long as a week. Also, avoid stepping on the new patch for at least a week, and at least several weeks if it's a corner patch.
© by Jim Sulski. All rights reserved. February 7, 2005.
NOTE: This column is distributed by Real Estate Matters Syndicate,
PO Box 366, Glencoe, Illinois, 60022. This column may not be resold, reprinted,
resyndicated or redistributed without written permission from the publisher.
© 2005 by Ilyce R. Glink. Distributed by Real Estate Matters Syndicate.