As they age, concrete slabs like driveways and patios crack, pit, chip, get stained, and wear down from years of use and exposure to heat, cold, rain, wind, and people. Resurfacing a concrete slab is a cost-effective way to restore its appearance and functionality without the high price of full replacement. 

This guide covers important preparation steps, concrete resurfacing products, application techniques, cure times, and what to expect for longevity.

With proper planning, prep, and execution, a resurfacing project can renew the look and durability of old, damaged concrete areas around your home.

What to Know Before Starting

Concrete naturally deteriorates over time because of exposure to the elements. Resurfacing a worn slab restores its look and strength. However, before starting a resurfacing project, there are some important factors to consider:

  • The condition of your existing slab: Any major cracks or faults in the structural integrity need repair before resurfacing. Use a pressure washer to clean debris from cracks. Fill cracks deeper than ¼ inch with concrete crack filler. Check out our guide for more on concrete crack repair techniques.
  • Drainage: Ensure your slab is sloped to allow water runoff. You may need to install a new drain if water pools on your slab.
  • Surface preparation: Proper preparation is crucial for a new concrete overlay to adhere correctly to the existing slab. You must clean your slab of any oil, grease, dirt, and loose material. Use a pressure washer for the best results.
  • Climate conditions: Resurfacing concrete requires favorable weather. Work on this project when temperatures will be at least 50°F for the first 24 hours of curing. Rain or freezing conditions will ruin an overlay.
  • Joints: Any existing expansion joints or control joints in your slab need maintenance during an overlay. Otherwise, you’ll experience cracks and slab movement. Use foam backer rods or weather stripping to keep concrete out of joints.

Addressing these factors will provide a good start to your resurfacing project.

Types of Concrete Resurfacers

Here are a few different concrete overlay products commonly used for resurfacing:

This type contains polymers that make it more flexible and durable than regular concrete. It is also more adhesive. The downside is a higher cost.

Extremely thin layers, usually around ⅛ to ¼ of an inch thick. The fluid consistency makes it easy to apply over large areas. If you want, apply multiple coats for durability.

These creative patterns provide decoration and textures to mimic stone, brick, tile, etc. However, they’re labor-intensive to install and require a release agent and secondary coloring step.

Pre-blended mix of cement and aggregates applied ¼- to ½-inch thick. These mixes are comparable to traditional concrete but come at a lower cost. Mixes are available from major manufacturers like Quikrete and Sakrete.

Professional concrete contractors can access commercial-grade products, but DIY-friendly options are also available at home improvement stores if you want to do it yourself.

How to Apply a Concrete Resurfacer

Once the necessary prep work is complete, applying a concrete overlay is straightforward:

  1. Mix the concrete resurfacer with water to a fluid consistency per the manufacturer’s instructions. Use a paddle mixer for thorough blending.
  2. Lightly dampen your slab before application, but don’t leave standing water.
  3. Pour the resurfacer mix onto your slab, spreading it out with a long-handled squeegee. Work the material back and forth and coat the surface evenly.
  4. For thin resurfacers like micro-toppings, apply multiple coats to build overlay thickness gradually. Allow each coat to cure before adding the next one. Check concrete curing time guidelines and dry times suggested by the product manufacturer.
  5. Use a float or trowel to smooth and level the wet concrete. Work from one side to the other to eliminate air bubbles and pockets.
  6. Now, you can imprint decorative patterns onto the wet overlay using texture mats or stamps. Make sure you have proper release agent coverage first.
  7. As soon as the concrete firms up, apply texture to the surface for slip resistance. Use a broom, trowel, or edging tool.
  8. Let the concrete cure undisturbed for at least 24 hours. Mist occasionally with water during curing.
  9. Seal and protect your finished overlay using a recommended concrete sealer once fully cured.

With proper concrete products and procedures, resurfacing an old, damaged slab is a manageable DIY project. However, hiring a professional concrete contractor is advisable for inexperienced homeowners or large surface areas. Their expertise with surface prep and product selection can help provide long-lasting results.

So, Is Resurfacing Worth It?

If you are dealing with cracked, pitted, flaking, or stained concrete, resurfacing can often restore your slab’s appearance and function at a fraction of the full replacement cost. When installed properly, concrete overlays last 10–15 years or longer.

However, resurfacing is not a permanent fix. If you don’t resolve the underlying slab’s structural problems, ‌your new surface will deteriorate faster. In either case, you may still need frequent repairs.

Weigh your overall concrete condition to decide if resurfacing is worthwhile for you. Replacement may be a better long-term investment for slabs with extensive damage or drainage issues. Getting an assessment from a concrete professional is advisable before proceeding.

With reasonable life span expectations, resurfacing can cost-effectively renew concrete surfaces around your home. Just be sure to address any major existing slab issues first.

FAQs About Concrete Resurfacing

What is the cost of resurfacing concrete?

The cost for your project can range from $2 to $8 per square foot, depending on overlay product and slab size. Professional installation averages $6 per square foot.

How thick should a concrete overlay be?

Standard resurfacing mixes are applied ¼- to ½-inch thick. Some polymer-modified overlays can be as thin as ⅛ inch. Use multiple thinner coats rather than one thick layer.

Can you apply new concrete over old concrete?

Yes, resurfacing ‌your existing concrete is a common technique. Proper surface preparation is key to the overlay bonding correctly. You must clean and roughen your slab to accept new concrete.

How long does concrete resurfacing last?

With quality installation, concrete overlays last 10 to 15 years, though some last longer. Durability depends on the product, slab preparation, and environmental factors. Proper maintenance also prolongs its life span.

When can you walk on resurfaced concrete?

You can have light foot traffic after 24 hours of curing. Allow three to five days before driving vehicles over your newly resurfaced slab. Curing times vary by product, so check the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Related: Concrete Floor Resurfacing vs. Polishing

Editorial Contributors
avatar for Jonathon Jachura

Jonathon Jachura


Jonathon Jachura is a two-time homeowner with hands-on experience with HVAC, gutters, plumbing, lawn care, pest control, and other aspects of owning a home. He is passionate about home maintenance and finding the best services. His main goal is to educate others with crisp, concise descriptions that any homeowner can use. Jon uses his strong technical background to create engaging, easy-to-read, and informative guides. He does most of his home and lawn projects himself but hires professional companies for the “big things.” He knows what goes into finding the best service providers and contractors. Jon studied mechanical engineering at Purdue University in Indiana and worked in the HVAC industry for 12 years. Between his various home improvement projects, he enjoys the outdoors, a good cup of coffee, and spending time with his family.

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Sabrina Lopez


Sabrina Lopez is a senior editor for Today’s Homeowner with over 7 years of writing and editing experience in digital media. She has reviewed content across categories that matter to homeowners, including HVAC services, home renovations, lawn and garden care, products for the home, and insurance services. When she’s not reviewing articles to make sure they are helpful, accessible, and engaging for homeowners like herself, Sabrina enjoys spending time with her family and their two parrots.

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