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Concrete Flatwork
Written by Elizabeth Wood
Editor In Chief, United Home Improvement

Concrete is a strong hard building material composed of sand, gravel, cement and water. Typically it is used for walkways, steps, basement and garage surfaces, patios and porches. It is used for so many purposes because concrete is one of the most durable of building materials. However, it does still require a certain amount of maintenance.

Problems with concrete can be caused by several factors. Nature is the major contributor to damaged concrete. Surface flaking occurs when snow and ice melt and the water gets absorbed into the concrete. Concrete can also be damaged from oils, salts, grease, poor mixture, sunlight, and structural problems.

Common repairs made to concrete pavement projects include fixing cracks, filling holes, sealing a surface, replacing a structure, rebar a surface, resurfacing, fixing damaged colors and removing stains. Anyone with a little guidance and direction can handle these jobs.

Concrete Repairs:

• Stains caused from oils, grease, and salts can be removed using a power washer and a scrubber. It is a good idea to seal your concrete to prevent stains from forming.
• Small cracks should be filled immediately to protect against future damages. Chips can occur on the edges of concrete as well. Small chips can usually be repaired. Concrete repair kits are available for homeowners that plan to make repairs themselves.
• Concrete that is damaged on the surface but is structurally sound can be repaired by resurfacing. Resurfacing is pouring a thin layer of sand-mix concrete over the existing concrete.
• Concrete that is mixed poorly or installed during cold weather often begins to flake at some point. Sometimes the surface can be repaired, but if the damage runs too deep you may need to replace the entire structure.
• The most expensive repairs are related to settling. Concrete is not flexible enough to handle large shifts in the ground. When this occurs, repairs are extremely difficult to make.
• Discoloration requires you to blend a mixture of concrete colors to try and achieve a matching sample to make repairs with. Often times the color will not match up perfectly. A patch will be lighter-colored than the old concrete. One way to hide the patch is to stain the entire surface to blend the old with the new. But you'll have to renew the stain periodically.
• If your concrete structure appears to be weak, you may need to install steel rebar to create more durability.
• Depending on where your concrete is located, you will need to add a finish to it. Interior finishes are typically smooth and shiny. Concrete located outside should be given a textured finished to prevent slips and falls.

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