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A concrete dilemma: To repair or to replace?

By: Glenna Allen


QuikreteconcretespreaderConcrete surfaces are known for their durability and uniform finish, but concrete in any form will eventually wear out, leaving homeowners with a dilemma: repair or replace?

Knowing which option is best means acquiring some basic information about concrete and exploring possible solutions with professionals.

According to concrete manufacturer The Quikrete Companies, concrete damage can be traced to many sources, including time, traffic and exposure to the elements. The most obvious warning signs are cracks, either large or small, running across the surface. Concrete may appear to have a bubbled texture, blisters caused by sealing the concrete surface before all the air has had time to escape. Sunken areas or divots are common imperfections which occur when there is not proper support and the concrete sinks. Rust stains may be a signal that reinforcing steel below the surface is deteriorating.

Take stock of the number, size and location of the defects in the concrete surface. It is important to remember that each case is unique and solutions may vary, but the general rule is cracks or divots larger than a quarter-inch wide or more than a few inches deep usually indicate that the homeowner is better off replacing the concrete in question, while lesser defects may be remedied by filling or resurfacing. Bubbles and rust may signal more serious problems that cannot be seen and further evaluation by a concrete expert is a good idea.

The age of the concrete is another key component to consider when assessing damage. Age can be the largest determining factor of how susceptible a concrete driveway, walkway or patio is to damage, and should always be taken into account when considering whether to repair or replace. Relatively new concrete slabs that are already cracking or sinking will most likely continue to split and shift, as they probably were not installed properly, and a professional inspection is recommended at the earliest signs of a problem.

Older concrete surfaces may simply be victims of age and due for replacement.

Often the condition of concrete surfaces isn’t the only motivation behind the decision of whether to repair or replace. Completing the look of the house and its aesthetic value also is an important consideration when choosing to update a driveway, walkway or patio. A homeowner trying to sell a house may need to consider whether potential buyers will be deterred by concrete surfaces that are cracked or pitted. Repairs are not always invisible solutions and in some situations replacing concrete is best alternative.

Deciding whether it is best to repair concrete or go all-in and replace it can be a difficult decision. Even though there are basic signs and guidelines, it is always best to get an expert opinion on the matter. While certain imperfections and damages can be seen plain as day, there might be some greater source of the problem that cannot be seen on the surface.

Concrete professionals are knowledgeable about the many products available to repair concrete and can offer solutions that might otherwise be overlooked. Qualified providers also are much better equipped to determine whether concrete can be restored to its original integrity and, if not, advise on replacement options.

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