If you’re having problems with your concrete, such as spalling, pitting, flaking, or cracking, don’t ignore it … it will only get worse.  Instead, consider a decorative concrete overlay as a solution.  What if your concrete is just plain ugly and you want to freshen your home’s appearance?  A decorative overlay will renew the concrete surfaces around your home, and overlays can be applied in many textures, colors, and patterns.  With proper installation and maintenance, an overlay will last for many, many years!

If your concrete slab has sunk or is heaving, or there are deep cracks throughout the slab, a concrete overlay is not an option.  In this case, your only recourse is to tear out the existing slab and replace it with new concrete. Additionally, resurfacing a concrete slab with an overlay does not solve underlying soil problems.

Make sure you have an acceptable surface for an overlay before you pursue it as an option.  What constitutes an “acceptable surface”?  In general,

  • the concrete slab must be sound;
  • cracks in the surface must be minor and properly repaired before the overlay is installed.


Now comes the most important piece of information in this post:  “The most critical factor when covering concrete with an overlay is to prepare the substrate properly. Overlays are designed to adhere to existing concrete and must have a clean, solid base to hold on to.  Not doing the proper prep work or not doing the job thoroughly is the most common cause of overlay delamination and failure.”  www.concretenetwork.com

Overlays are often scoffed at as a concrete treatment or repair option because there’s a lot of evidence of delamination and failure.  Unfortunately, decorative concrete overlays have gotten a bad reputation when, in all likelihood, the culprit was an installer who did not properly and adequately prepare the surface before the overlay was applied.

As with all coating projects, proper preparation of the surface is a critical step in the process.  “Lack of surface preparation causes 90% or more of overlay failures …” says Chris Sullivan, ChemSystems, Inc.  (www.concretenetwork.com)   Mr. Sullivan adds, “In most decorative overlay projects, surface preparation should cost more and take longer to perform than the actual overlay installation itself.”