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Overlaying Concrete Tips and Tricks

Concrete is an excellent building material that can be used for a variety of purposes. However, there are many things to consider when using concrete. For instance, what type of concrete should you use? What thickness should the layer be? What tools should you use when applying the concrete?

In this article, we'll cover the basics of concrete overlay, plus a handful of tips and tricks to keep in mind when planning your project.

What Is Concrete and Why Should You Use It?

There are numerous reasons why people choose to use concrete as their construction material. One reason may be that it is durable, which means your structure will last long without any issues.

Another reason is versatility in terms of what structures can be created with the materials available on site such as pillars, beams, footings, etc.  

Additionally, you can also use it to create a variety of textures and finishes, which allows you to have freedom in terms of how your new concrete will look.


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How To Calculate Concrete Overlay?

Before you can determine how much concrete to use for your overlay, a few things need to be taken into account.

  1. First of all, what is the thickness of the existing slab and its condition? If it's in good shape, you won't need too much material, but more concrete will be required if cracks or other damage has occurred.
  2. The second thing to consider is where any reinforcement steel exists; this includes rebar.
  3. Finally, make sure you take note of any obstructions, such as drainage holes, since they'll also require additional materials when replacing the existing concrete floor with a new concrete overlay.

Edging Tool - floor concreteTools of the Trade

When you're ready to apply your new concrete overlay, there are a few tools that will come in handy. These include:

  • a shovel for mixing and cleaning up excess material on-site
  • a trowel to smooth out any rough surfaces or high spots from debris accumulating during application of the liquid mixture
  • string line, which is helpful when laying out guidelines for cutting off concrete slabs with an electric saw after applying cement adhesive as well as transporting materials around the job site
  • a walk-behind saw which is useful for cutting up large concrete slabs into smaller pieces
  • an edging tool to create a neat border around your work area

How To Apply Concrete Overlay?

  1. The actual process begins by removing all dirt, grass, gravel, and other debris from the damaged concrete so it's down to bare earth before you can start pouring. You may consider pressure washing the entire surface first to remove any unwanted debris.
  2. Once this has been completed, then use either mortar mix or fast-setting concrete to fill in any cracks, holes, or other damage that may have occurred on the floor.

Note: if you're only applying a concrete overlay, then it's not necessary to use concrete mix since new material will be applied later on top of the existing surface, which is why using fast-setting concrete will do just fine for repairs before taking out your old slab and cutting off excess pieces with a walk-behind saw (if needed). 

On the other hand, when replacing an entire foundation or concrete floors, mortars work best because they are more flexible than fast-setting concretes; also, make sure to remove all reinforcing steel, including rebar, since adding additional materials at this stage could compromise the structural integrity of your flooring system.

  1. Once the repairs have been completed, then it's time to wipe down any dirt or debris that may be on your new concrete surface.
  2. Now you're ready for applying cement adhesive, which should cover all concrete surfaces of the repaired area plus a couple of inches onto other areas surrounding it because this will help with leveling out the existing slab, so everything looks smooth and even without being bumpy or uneven once you apply your overlay material. This is particularly important when using mortar mix since fast-setting concrete doesn't need to be leveled off before adding your final layer of concrete.
  3. After allowing enough time for the cement adhesive to dry, follow up by pouring in the liquid mixture into what would become an empty space; make sure not to get too much in the area where your new concrete will be applied since this may result in a higher chance of cracks and other damage after it has dried.

Note: once you've poured in your liquid mixture, then take a walk-behind saw with an edging tool to cut off any excess material that is outside of what would become the border for your finished concrete work; also, keep track of time while waiting because depending on how many layers are involved, you'll need to allow at least 24 hours before proceeding but allowing less than 12 could compromise the quality since curing occurs over time which results in a stronger material.

Decorative Concrete Overlay

What is a Decorative Concrete Overlay?

Decorative concrete overlays are a great way to make your home or concrete driveway look its best without having the high costs of tearing up old concrete floors and replacing them with new ones.

You can easily improve the appearance for a fraction of what it would cost to replace an entire floor while strengthening the foundation by applying decorative overlay styles such as polished concrete or stained surface treatments.

Stained Concrete Overlay

If you're looking for a more cost-effective and straightforward way to improve the appearance of your concrete floors while making them easier to clean, then why not try out an overlay?

Since stains are applied directly onto the existing surfaces rather than requiring any removal or replacement processes like other types, such as polished concrete overlays, they are the perfect choice for making your concrete look new again while being incredibly cost-effective.

Polished Concrete Overlay

Another great option if you're looking to improve the appearance of your concrete floor is polished concrete overlays.

Polished concrete is a very similar process to stained concrete. Rather than applying stains or dyes, you use diamond grinding tools with an industrial-strength polisher machine to grind down the rough surface of your concrete floor smoothen it out so that it has a shine.

This beautiful polished look is perfect for commercial spaces such as big-box retailers and shopping malls or even residential homes that want to add a unique style to their concrete patios without having to rip up their existing floor.

Stamped Concrete Overlay

If you're looking for a more decorative concrete overlay option, then stamped concrete may be the one that best suits your needs.

Stamped overlays are known as being some of the most innovative and creative ways to transform an existing surface into something new and exciting by using unique designs and patterns such as brick, cobblestone, or even wood grains. Stamped overlays are typically used for decorative concrete patios and driveways rather than commercial spaces like polished concrete since they're not as durable as other types of concrete floor overlay materials.


Tips and Tricks for Overlaying Concrete

Some helpful tips can make applying concrete overlay much easier on you. Here are some of our favorite ones:

  • Use drop cloths or tarps to protect surrounding areas from over-spray.

This is especially important if you are using any stains or dyes since they can have a strong smell and could potentially damage your carpets, sofas, and other fabrics with their harsh chemicals. This also helps keep dust levels down and reduces the chance of accidentally spilling on an area that you didn't want to stain or dye by mistake.

  • Don't forget to check weather reports before starting.

Depending on the type of overlay you are planning on applying, it is important that you check with your local weather forecast to make sure it will be a nice day outside, which allows for adequate drying time. Ensure that it isn't too windy or rainy since this could compromise your overlay's quality and cause potential damage to surrounding areas if excess rainwater washes away the concrete overlay mix.

  • With stained overlays, consider waiting until your concrete floor is fully cured.

Since you're applying the stains right onto the surface of your concrete and not requiring any grinding or removal processes to use it like other types such as polished concrete, we recommend that you wait at least 30 days before doing so since this will ensure that all oils and moisture have dissipated from your concrete.

Although these are just a few suggestions for making sure that you get started on your concrete overlay projects correctly, there are plenty more tips out there when looking into various concrete designs and methods for polishing, staining, stamping, and even painting an old concrete slab.


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