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Over time, a set of concrete steps can often develop stains, cracks or chips, especially on the tread areas that get the most foot traffic. In addition to being unsightly, this damage can also be unsafe, so get ahead of repairing concrete steps before the damage gets out of hand. This project guide shows how to repair concrete steps, including the corner or edge of an exposed step, as well as delves into resurfacing concrete.
Tip: For steps that have extremely deep fractures or ones that are sinking, we recommend replacing the steps instead of attempting a repair.
Prepare the Damaged Area
- Make sure the damaged area is clean and cleared of debris before you start repairing concrete steps.
- Sweep the broken area, removing weeds, dirt and broken concrete chips.
- Scrub the damaged area with a stiff, wet brush, such as a wire brush.
- If possible, pressure wash the damaged parts of the steps. If the steps are damp, the new concrete will adhere better.
- Tape off the areas where you do not want new or additional patching material.
Tip: Consider the size of the crack when determining how to fix concrete steps. Thin cracks can be filled with masonry crack filler or concrete repair caulk and a caulk gun. Use the gun to force a thick bead of caulk into the crack. Shape the caulk with a putty knife or trowel and allow it to dry.
Build a Form for a Corner
If you’re fixing a chipped or broken corner of a step, build a simple, L-shaped wood form (or mold) to ensure the patch stays in place.
- Screw together two pieces of wood, such as 1- x 2-inch boards, into an L shape.
- Place the form against the chipped corner, flush with the top of the step.
- Secure the form with duct tape. Brace with pavers or bricks if needed.
Tip: Coat the inside of the form with cooking oil so it doesn’t stick to the cement patch.
Mix the Repair Material
The type of concrete repair material can depend on the extent of the damage. Small areas with superficial chips or cracks may only need a concrete patching compound. A larger area with holes, crumbling concrete or structural damage may need quick setting cement.
- Mix the concrete in a wheelbarrow or small concrete mixer.
- Stir until the lumps are removed and the cement mixture has a consistency like thick pancake batter.
Tip: Before resurfacing concrete steps, remove any stains from oil, paint or tree sap, or cover them with a sealer before applying concrete to keep the stain from bleeding through.
Apply the Concrete Repair Material
- Begin by dampening the area with water.
- Repair superficial damage by applying a layer of concrete patch with a mason’s trowel.
- For structural damage, put the concrete mix over the holes or damaged areas with a square head shovel.
- Fill the holes and smooth the surface with a trowel. Work the new concrete into the pores of the existing concrete. Consider using two trowels, leaning on one while working with the other.
Tip: If required by manufacturer’s instructions, apply a concrete bonding adhesive to the exposed concrete with a paint brush. This will help the patching compound adhere to the original concrete.
Finish the Concrete Surface
- Add a second coat as needed while the first coat is still wet to ensure that the concrete has a smooth, finished appearance.
- Brush the surface with a masonry brush or concrete finishing brush. When repairing or resurfacing concrete steps, make sure the surface doesn’t become too smooth. Smooth steps that get slippery when wet can be a falling hazard.
- Shape the edges of the steps and the corners where the steps meet with the side of the trowel.
- Allow the surface time to dry according to manufacturer’s instructions, often up to 24 hours.
Repairing concrete steps and resurfacing concrete steps can be a cost-effective way to make your home safer without hiring a concrete contractor. Just follow the instructions on how to fix concrete steps outlined here. You can rent tools for the cost savings and so you don't have to worry about storing them. Or, when you’re ready to purchase the items you need for the project, The Home Depot delivers online orders when and where you need them.