How To Resurface Concrete Patios

Step-by-Step Instructions, Tips, and a Supply List

Image: example of a concrete patio that needs resurfacing.
I undertook the project to resurface my concrete patio because the patio surface (the light gray, with stones embedded) shown here needs to be raised to the level of the abutting driveway (the black surface). David Beaulieu

The first step required for DIYers to resurface a concrete patio is to make a trip to the hardware store and buy a suitable resurfacing product. I bought QUIKRETE, myself, but other options are generally available as well. My own project was necessitated by the fact that I had to raise the level of my patio about 1/2 inch where it meets my driveway, so that it would be flush with the driveway (its unevenness made the area subject to tripping).

QUIKRETE® Concrete Resurfacer is intended for precisely such thin applications.

This is a fairly easy do-it-yourself project for beginners. It will require about one hour of your time per 5 square feet of surface to be covered.

Instructions to Resurface a Concrete Patio

  1. Buying a product specifically designed for resurfacing concrete is a key step in this DIY project. According to the QUIKRETE website, "QUIKRETE® Concrete Resurfacer is a special blend of Portland cement, sand, polymer modifiers and other additives designed to provide a shrinkage compensated repair material making thin repairs to sound concrete which is in need of surface renewal." This is exactly the type of product I needed to resurface my concrete patio.
  2. Rent a power washer and wash the existing concrete surface. This step will help the new concrete adhere to the old surface.
  3. You do not want to fill in your existing control joints, so apply duct tape over them. You may similarly mask any other contiguous surfaces, to keep them clean.
  1. If, by the time you get ready to apply the new concrete, the surface you power-washed has dried, thoroughly wet it again, to improve adhesion (but there should be no standing water).
  2. Mix the new concrete. There are fancier ways to do the job, but I mixed it in a wheelbarrow, using a shovel.
  3. Properly mixing concrete involves adding water in stages, until the proper consistency is attained. Normally, I would add the water using a garden hose. However, I was resurfacing my concrete patio on a cool day, so I chose to use heated water to speed the setting time (following QUIKRETE's directions). This required me to bring out water from inside my house (fortunately, I did not need much).
  1. Now simply begin shoveling the new concrete onto the surface and spreading it with your masonry trowel.
  2. If your concrete resurfacing needs to be ultra-smooth, run a concrete float over the new surface before it hardens (this is feasible if you treat only one small area at a time).
  3. To make your resurfacing more slip-resistant, run a broom across it before it hardens.

Curing the Concrete

For drying times and related information, I gleaned the following information from QUIKRETE's site:

  1. Drying time is about 6 hours, at minimum (meaning no one should be allowed to walk on the patio during this time). But wait 24 hours before driving a car onto your patio. 
  2. Temperature is a factor in the curing (drying) process. The colder it is outside, the longer it will take for the concrete to dry.
  3. Rain is your enemy in this project. If rain is in the forecast, cover your concrete patio with a sheet of plastic for at least 6 hours. Again, temperature is a factor, so if rain is projected and it is cold outside, keep it covered for even longer. 
  4. There is no need to apply a sealant to the surface later.

Indeed, one of the key jobs to research as preparation to resurface a concrete patio (or for any project involving concrete) is curing concrete properly.

You could do everything else right, and yet, if you were to get this one step wrong, your whole project could be ruined.

Tips, Supplies Needed

  1. Resurfacing concrete patios can be an aesthetic project, but I undertook the task for practical reasons. Water runoff from my concrete patio was threatening to eventually undermine my driveway, by seeping under it: thus my need to raise the level of the patio. In addition, as related above, I wished to eliminate a tripping hazard.
  2. When resurfacing concrete to a depth greater than 1/2 inch, make successive applications (allowing for drying in between).

You will need the following supplies for this DIY project:

  1. QUIKRETE® Concrete Resurfacer (or the equivalent).
  2. Masonry trowel.
  3. A container within which to mix the concrete resurfacer (I used a wheelbarrow).
  4. An instrument with which to stir it (I used a shovel).
  1. Duct tape.
  2. Water supply (e.g., garden hose).
  3. Protective clothing (especially gloves).
  4. Safety mask and goggles.
  5. Optional: broom, concrete float.
  6. To rent: power washer.

Maybe you intend to undertake other landscaping projects this year? Here is some help with various DIY projects, ranging from building decks to setting up small water features.