Thursday, March 25, 2010

What should I do about cracks in the concrete?

Ask a Pro

Q. - My driveway has a lot of cracks in it. I desperately want to improve the look of it. Is there any way to fill in the cracks so they don't stick out like a sore thumb if I stain it? Surely the professionals use something to fill in cracks before concrete staining. I appreciate your comments!!

Hello Lillian,

A. - If they are hairline cracks then you should leave them alone as they will actually add character to the drive once it is stained. They may look bad on plain concrete but they tend to look cool on stained concrete, giving it more of a real stone kind of look. Anyway, if you do patch them the patch material will likely stain a different color than the rest of the concrete and tend to stand out more, like a sore thumb.
If they are not hairline, but rather large cracks which you can put a coin into or bigger, then there are ways to patch and stain them though it is a process.

You can use a concrete patch material or concrete resurfacing material. Or you can mix portland and sand together along with some water and a small amount of bonding agent.
You would purchase a small amount of every one of the different patching materials available at your local home improvement or lumber store. Then you would do a small sample board using cardboard or wood. Mix each material as directed on it's label, and put a small amount, about 6" to 12" square or so on the board or cardboard. Let them all dry for at least a few days, or as directed on their labels. Then you can do some color tests.
Do a concrete stain color test on your concrete in an out of the way place and stain the patch samples that you made. Then you can see which one will come the closest to matching the color the concrete is going to be. You can always use a brush and give them a second coat to darken them up if you need to.

Also you can help camouflage the cracks or patched cracks by using stain colors that tend to give multiple colors, like Honey Oak, Riverstone, and many others that Concrete Camouflage offers. Additionally, you can do one coat overall, then after it dries, you can spray on a second coat using the same color or a different color, holding the sprayer up higher and dropping it lower and then back higher and so forth as you go, and therefore highlighting it to help bring out more color variances.
Another way to highlight it is to simply hold the sprayer about waste to shoulder height when applying the second coat. That's how you do a tortoise shell look. You would use a light color first and hold the sprayer about a foot or so high when spraying the first coat. Then you use a darker color for the second coat and hold the sprayer higher up so it just highlights as mentioned above.