Transforming a drab patio into an inviting outdoor oasis may seem complicated, but it’s easier than you think. With some creativity and a little work, you can turn your unused concrete slab into your favorite place to relax, drink, eat, and entertain. Revitalizing your patio boosts your home’s appeal, adds livable square footage, and enhances your ability to enjoy the outdoors. Follow these tips to create an outdoor living space that reflects your style and meets your needs for entertaining or solitude.

    Clean and Resurface Concrete

    Your patio’s concrete slab may be in good shape (except for a few cracks) and need only a deep cleaning. This prep work is the first step for a better-looking patio. 

    I recommend using a concentrated concrete cleaner to saturate the slab. The cleanser helps remove built-up dirt, grease, mildew, and other debris from the concrete surface. Let it soak for 10 to 15 minutes before using a pressure washer. This pre-cleaning prepares the slab for resurfacing.

    The slab may also have some cracks from expansion and contraction over time. If the cracks have both sides level with the surrounding concrete, they are likely just surface-level cracks you can fill in. You just need to fill the cracks and resurface the area with a product like Quikrete Re-Cap Concrete Resurfacer.

    Follow the instructions and add water to the dry mix until you get a thick consistency. Then, stir it thoroughly with a hoe before pouring and spreading the resurfacer onto the cleaned slab.

    Spread the resurfacer evenly across the surface with a squeegee. As it dries over the next few hours, drag a broom across the surface to create a textured, non-slip finish. The resurfacer levels the slab while filling cracks, dents, holes, and other imperfections.

    Adjust the Paver Retaining Wall and Flower Bed

    If pavers border a flower bed or another defined area, the other area can cause water to pool on the patio. I recommend adjusting them to improve the drainage and eliminate pooling.

    After removing existing pavers, shovel and rake the newly exposed dirt or sand, leveling it and smoothing it. Then, add a Pavestone paver base, tamp it down firmly to compact it, and place the pavers back on top. Gently slope the pavers away from the house foundation and concrete pad. This drainage slope helps rainwater to move away from the structures freely.

    Use a level to double-check that your pavers are sloped correctly to prevent water from pooling against the foundations. Once the pavers are level, sweep polymeric sand into the paver joints and mist them with water. 

    Install Sailcloth

    To enjoy your patio anytime, including hot summer days, adding sailcloth is an easy way to get shade and extra comfort. A sailcloth setup includes an aluminum frame and a triangle or square fabric sail. The triangle shape offers less coverage but looks more modern and attractive.

    The basic sailcloth installation process is:

    1. Assemble the aluminum frame according to the instructions.
    2. Lock the legs in place. They fit into the hubs at the corners.
    3. Stretch the triangular sail fabric tightly across the frame. 
    4. Fit the pockets sewn into the corners of the fabric over the frame legs. 
    5. Use the included fasteners to secure the sail.

    You’ll have a shady spot to escape the harsh summer sunlight. The lightweight, breezy fabric blocks the sun’s UV rays and allows airflow.

    So, Is a Patio Refresh Worth It?

    Upgrading an old patio pays off if you want a better outdoor living space. Resurfacing fixes cracks while grading and drainage repairs stop water from pooling on the slab. Adding shade yields more daytime use.

    A DIY patio makeover takes work, but the renewed space works for gatherings, meals, and relaxation. Hire a professional if you don’t have the time or skills to tackle this as a DIY project.

    For more information, watch our episode:

    FAQs About Patio Refresh Projects

    How long does concrete resurfacing last?

    A properly mixed and applied concrete resurfacer lasts an average of five to 10 years. The life span depends on climate, usage, and thickness. Reapplying a fresh coat can extend its life.

    What are the best paver brands?

    Top paver brands include Unilock, Belgard, Pavestone, E.P. Henry, and ORCO. Look for durable concrete or natural stone as ingredients. Consider color, size, and shape options when shopping for a paver to find the best choice for your budget and aesthetics.

    How is the sailcloth installed?

    Sailcloth requires assembling an aluminum frame on the patio. The fabric sail stretches across the frame and attaches using corner pockets. Most kits include detailed installation instructions, making this a DIY-friendly project.

    Can I install pavers over the existing concrete?

    You can install pavers over concrete that’s in good condition — with no large cracks and no crumbling. Put down a 1- to 2-inch bed of coarse sand first before laying and leveling the pavers on top.

    Is resurfacing or replacing concrete cheaper?

    Resurfacing costs an average of $2—$8 per square foot, while total replacement runs $8—$15 per square foot. So, resurfacing often saves money. However, badly deteriorated concrete may need replacing. Getting quotes for both options lets you weigh the pros and cons of both fixes.

    Editorial Contributors
    avatar for Amy DeYoung

    Amy DeYoung


    Amy DeYoung has a passion for educating and motivating homeowners to improve their lives through home improvement projects and preventative measures. She is a content writer and editor specializing in pest control, moving, window, and lawn/gardening content for Today’s Homeowner. Amy utilizes her own experience within the pest control and real estate industry to educate readers. She studied business, communications, and writing at Arizona State University.

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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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