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How to Resurface a Concrete Driveway

Updated April 20, 2022

Do you have a concrete driveway that's seen better days? Are the cracks and potholes starting to drive you crazy? If so, you're not alone. A lot of homes have concrete driveways, and over time they start to show their age. But don't worry—there is a solution! You can resurface your concrete driveway yourself, and it's not as hard as you might think.

In this blog post,  we'll walk you through the steps of resurfacing a concrete driveway. But first, let's take a look at why you might want to do this in the first place.

Why Should You Resurface Your Concrete Driveway?

If your existing concrete driveway is riddled with cracks and potholes, it's likely to cause problems down the road. Not only is it unsightly, but it can also be dangerous. A driveway that isn't in good condition can easily become a slip-and-fall hazard.

In addition, a driveway that's in bad shape can also lead to water damage to your home. When it rains, the water will flow down the driveway and into your garage or basement. This can cause serious problems down the road, so it's important to address any issues with your driveway as soon as possible.

Now that you know why you should resurface your concrete driveway, here are a few signs that it's time for a concrete driveway resurfacing:

  • The driveway already has deep cracks or is pitted
  • There are large potholes on the concrete surface
  • The old driveway is stained or discolored
  • The concrete is crumbling or flaking
  • The existing driveway is suffering from salt damage
  • There is noticeable standing water on the surface every time it rains

If your concrete driveway meets any of these criteria, then it's definitely time to resurface it. Concrete resurfacing will restore the surface of your driveway and get it back to its former glory.

Concrete Resurfacing vs. Concrete Replacement: What's the Difference?

When it comes to repairing or replacing a concrete driveway, there are two main options: resurfacing or replacement. So what's the difference?

We've already discussed resurfacing, but what is the concrete replacement? Concrete replacement is exactly what it sounds like: removing the old concrete driveway and replacing it with new, fresh concrete. This option is generally chosen when the driveway is in bad shape and needs extensive repairs, or if the homeowner wants to change the color or style of their driveway.

The main difference between the two can be summarized as:

Resurfacing is a process that involves adding a new layer of concrete over the existing driveway. This is usually done when the driveway is still in good condition but needs a fresh new look. The old surface is cleaned and repaired as needed, then a new coat of concrete is applied.

Replacement, on the other hand, means tearing out the old driveway and replacing it with new concrete. This option is generally chosen when the driveway is in poor condition and needs extensive repairs.

The main advantage of resurfacing is that it is a more affordable option than replacement. In most cases, resurfacing can be done by the homeowner, whereas replacement usually requires the help of a professional. Resurfacing is also a more time-effective option. The entire process usually only takes a few days, whereas replacement can take several weeks.

Overall, resurfacing is a good option for those who want to give their driveway a fresh new look without spending too much money.

What Is a Concrete Overlay?

A concrete overlay is a type of concrete resurfacing. It is a thin layer of concrete that is applied over the existing driveway. This option is usually chosen when the driveway is in good condition but needs a new look. The overlay will add color and texture to the surface of the driveway, and can even be stamped to look like brick or stone.

The main use of an overlay is that it is a quick and easy way to give your driveway a new look. The entire process usually only takes a day or two, and the results are instant. An overlay is also a more affordable option than a replacement.

How to Resurface a Concrete Driveway

Now that you know why you should resurface your concrete driveway, here are the steps on how to resurface a concrete surface.

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Step One: Clean the Surface

The first step is to clean the surface of your damaged driveway. This will remove any dirt, dust, or debris that's on the surface. You can do this by using a pressure washer, or you can use a broom and some soapy water. Inspect the existing concrete surface for any loose material that needs to be removed.

 

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Step Two: Repair any Cracks or Potholes

The next step is to repair driveway cracks or potholes on the surface. This can be done with a concrete patching compound, which you can buy at any hardware store. Apply the compound over the crack or hole, and then smooth it out with a trowel. Let the patching compound dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Step Three: Apply a Concrete Resurfacer

The third step is to apply a concrete resurfacer to your cracked driveway. This will fill in any cracks or holes, and will also give the driveway a new, smooth surface. You can buy a concrete resurfacer at any hardware store. Follow the instructions on the package to apply it to your driveway.

Start with three and a half quarts of water in a five-gallon bucket. Then, while stirring the mixing paddle within the bucket, ask someone to slowly pour in the resurfacer. Continue mixing for at least five minutes after everything has been added. Stir only until the mix reaches a lump-free, syrup-like texture. If the mix is too thick, add some more water; if it's too runny, add some more resurfacer.

Since hand-mixing frequently produces lumps, it's strongly suggested that you use a paddle mixer instead of a barrel-type attachment on your power drill to mix the resurfacer. If you do use a power drill, mix slowly to avoid creating lumps.

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Step Four: Smooth Out the Surface

The fourth step is to smooth out the surface of your newly-resurfaced driveway. Use a broom or brush to spread the resurfacer evenly over the surface. Make sure to get into all the cracks and crevices.

If you're working with a huge area, it's generally a good idea to work in smaller sections and apply the resurfacer on one small section at once (no larger than 144 square feet) so that you can get a good finish. 

When the resurfacer is ready, apply it to the driveway in strips about a foot wide. Then, with a long-handled squeegee, scrub the resurfacer into the concrete by moving it back and forth across the surface. Allow the smooth new surface to set for five minutes before applying a nonslip finish with a wide-head concrete broom. Make sure that the brooms are running in the same direction and at the same speed across the work area for a consistent look.

Step Five: Let It Dry

Let the driveway dry completely. Usually, the newly resurfaced concrete driveway should be ready for foot traffic in around six hours. And after 24 hours, you may pull your car into the driveway and park it there again.

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Step Six: Seal the Concrete Surface

The final step is to seal the concrete surface of your newly resurfaced driveway with a concrete sealer. This will protect it from staining and fading, and provide an extra layer against thawing cycles, which is the natural tendency of the surface to break and flake due to the expansion and contraction of the freeze/thaw process.

Concrete sealers come in both a wet look and a matte finish, so choose the one that you think will look best on your driveway. Apply two coats of sealer to the surface with a paintbrush or roller, letting each coat dry completely before applying the next.

Now that you know how to resurface a concrete driveway, you can do it yourself with ease! Follow these simple steps, and your driveway will be looking like new in no time.

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How Much Does a Concrete Driveway Resurfacing Cost?

The average cost for basic resurfacing is between $2 and $3 per square foot which amounts to $1,200-$1,800 for a concrete driveway that has an area of 600 square feet. For those wanting something fancier, prepare a budget between $4 and $8 per square foot for colored or patterned concrete.

In general, prices can vary depending on the size and condition of your driveway. If you have a lot of cracks or potholes to repair, then naturally the cost will be higher. Additionally, you may also need to buy some extra materials, such as a concrete patching compound or resurfacer. But overall, resurfacing your concrete driveway is a much cheaper option than replacing it entirely. It's a project that most homeowners can do themselves with a bit of time and effort.

So if your concrete driveway is looking a little worse for wear, don't hesitate to give it a fresh new look with a coat of resurfaced concrete! It'll make your home look nicer and increase its curb appeal.

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Is It Better to Resurface Your Own Driveway?

If money's a little tight for you, it would be a more economical choice to resurface your driveway yourself because it will save you money. 

A professional contractor will charge you a labor cost of anywhere from $65 to $85 per hour, so if the job takes them six hours, that's a total cost of  $390-$510 for labor. If you do the job yourself, it will take you longer and require more effort, but you'll only have to pay for the materials, which will cost you around $200.

In general, it's a good idea to resurface your driveway every five to seven years to keep it looking its best and protect it from wear and tear. So if you're starting to see some cracks or potholes, now is the time to act! And with these simple instructions, you can easily get your concrete driveway looking like new again.

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