A concrete overlay can give your old, worn, or damaged concrete patio, driveway, or pool deck a brand new look.
From a simple resurfacing to a stamped concrete overlay, there's a lot of ways to add a new design, color and even a pattern when you use an overlay.
I've been a concrete contractor since the early 80's. In that time, I've seen a lot of concrete that could use some resurfacing.
Back then there wasn't much for user friendly products that would allow you to easily resurface a worn out, ugly looking slab of concrete.
But now, that's all changed!
With today's "just add water" bag mixes and "polymer modified" additives, it's really quite easy to install and apply a concrete overlay
A concrete overlay is a thin layer of concrete used to resurface or repair existing concrete. The new overlay can be applied from feather edge thin up to 2" thick in some cases. Overlays can be stamped, broom finished, or left smooth.
Most all manufactures of concrete overlay products have their own proprietary blends.
All you really need to know is there's a blend of Portland cements, various aggregates and polymer resins.
It's the polymers in these overlays that make them special. The polymers are the "glue" that help make them very strong and provide a tenacious bond to properly prepared concrete.
A concrete overlay will last a very long time if the surface it's being applied to is prepared properly.
The existing surface has to be clean and sound with no loose or flaking areas of concrete.
Deep spalling and cracks have to be repaired first. (This is how to do that)
You may have to treat the existing concrete first with a concrete densifier and hardener if your concrete is really old and porous.
And... you have to mix and apply the concrete overlay according to the manufactures specifications.
Then you need to seal it with a concrete sealer to protect it.
If you do all of that, your concrete overlay will last a long time.
When you look at the cost of concrete overlay material, it's going to depend on what your using it for.
There's concrete overlay for very thin micro-topping 1/16" or less. There's overlays made for resurfacing 1/8" to 3/8" for broom finish and stamped concrete appearances.
There's other overlay material used just for deep repairs and others used for getting a polished concrete floor look.
At Walt Tools a bag of micro-topping concrete overlay is about $30.00 per 50 lb. bag, and that will cover 100 square feet at 1/16" thick.
The 1/8" - 3/8" bag of concrete overlay is about $24.00 per 50 lb. bag, it covers 22 square feet at 1/4" thick.
A 50 lb. bag of self-leveling polish overlay mix is about $38.00 and covers 16 square feet at 3/8" thick.
Walt Tools has a very user friendly and wallet friendly line of concrete overlay bag mixes.
In most cases if the sub-base is prepared properly and any damaged concrete is repaired properly then the concrete overlay will not crack.
Existing cracks in the concrete you're going to overlay have to be fixed like this or there is a chance the repaired crack could transfer up through the overlay.
If the existing concrete you're about to overlay is still moving (settling or heaving) then the new concrete overlay will most likely crack right over the repaired cracks.
Some concrete overlays have to be kept wet soon after they cure so they don't cure too fast. If a concrete overlay cures too fast for some reason (like being in the hot sun) it could crack from rapid curing.
This is more likely to happen on 1/4" thick and thicker overlays.
This is how thick a concrete overlay should be for these applications:
These are just general guidelines and what I've done the most of.
Each overlay mix you use has its minimum and maximum thickness for use right on the bag.
If you have a project where the overlay material is going to be 2" thick or more, some mixes can have pea-stone added to them for the thicker applications.
If you have a concrete driveway that needs to be resurfaced using a concrete overlay material, then TRU-IMPRESSIONS OVER-Eze polymer modified concrete overlay what you can use.
It's made specifically for resurfacing concrete flatwork. It comes in a white or grey base that can be tinted with integral pigment when you mix it.
The added micro polypropylene fibers give it added flexural and tensile strength plus more durability than other overlay mixes.
The mix has a blend of flexibilizers, plasticizers, and finishing agents that help minimize any freeze and thaw spalling & cracking on the surface.
If you're going to use a concrete overlay on your countertops, you're either going to go very thin and smooth or stamp it with a pattern.
For thin and smooth - Use Tru-Impressions Canvas Microtopping, it comes in light grey and white. You can dye it with color or stain it after it's cured.
For a countertop with a texture or stamped - Use OverEze overlay mix, this can go on up to 3/8" if you want to stamp a design into it. Can also be colored or stained.
In the video below, we had to repair some spalled concrete on this concrete patio before we could overlay it.
The video will show you, step by step, what it takes to resurface a damaged, spalled, or worn concrete patio slab.
These stairs were in bad shape and were supposed to get demolished & replaced with a new set of poured in place concrete stairs.
When the owners got the final quote on what it would cost to replace the entire set of stairs and part of the frost wall you see in the background, they opted for a concrete overlay instead.
My company, Day's Concrete Floors, Inc. was called in to see if we could repair, resurface, and overlay the stairs to save them and make them look new again.
Well, they were pretty banged up but they were structurally sound.
We ground off some paint and profiled the smoother parts with a 4" handheld grinder. The rest of the stairs we used a high velocity pressure washer to clean and profile the concrete.
We re-formed the stair treads, applied the concrete overlay product in multiple applications and the end product was a new set of stairs at about 1/5 the cost of replacing them.
Yes, this decorative overlay replaced old carpet and tile in a hotel lobby.
The project totaled 4500 sq. ft. of stamped and hand carved stones.
The overlay material was a total of 1/4 inch thick over an old concrete floor.
This stamped concrete overlay was installed over an old, worn concrete patio that sloped towards the house.
We resurfaced the concrete with our overlay, stamped a cobblestone pattern into it, and sloped the overlay away from the house to shed water.
A spray down or sprayed on concrete overlay is great when you need some texture on the surface for slip-resistance or if you use a stencil to create a pattern like the one below.
Concrete resurfacing using an overlay can make an old, cracked and pitted concrete patio look like new again.
On this patio, I repaired the small cracks, lightly ground the surface, applied the overlay with a hand trowel at about 1/16 inch thick, then dragged a broom across the overlay to give it a broom finished look.
Very simple and inexpensive!
As you can see, concrete overlays can be used for many kinds of projects.
You can use them to repair concrete, for ultra thin toppings, for decorative stamping and staining, and to level a floor that's tipped or pitched the wrong way.
An overlay can be much less expensive than a complete demo and replace with new concrete.
If you're thinking of trying this yourself, my advice is practice on some hardy board or old concrete you don't care about.
We've been trained to use these products. We mostly use Walt Tools and Elite Crete Systems brand.
They do have training classes that will teach you how to use their concrete overlay products and provide you with support if you have questions.
Of course, hiring a professional, is always a good choice also.