If you’ve got a concrete patio in your backyard then the thought of how to spruce it up has probably crossed your mind a time or two. While concrete patios are functional and utilitarian, they are a little bland-looking and are prone to cracking, chipping, and spalling.
There are a number of solid inexpensive options when it comes to covering a concrete patio, and the reality is there’s no limit to how creative you can get with cover-ups.
Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to cover up that boring old concrete patio – and transform it into a genuine backyard paradise.
Resurface the Concrete Patio
If your concrete patio is starting to form cracks and show its age, then a cheap and easy way to spruce it up is by resurfacing it. Resurfacing a concrete slab consists of applying some form of crack filler to the existing cracks, and then applying a concrete resurfacer over the entire slab that covers up the cracks and any other imperfection.The first step to resurfacing a concrete patio is power washing it. This will remove any dirt, debris, and small chips that may be hiding in the cracks.
Next, apply a concrete crack filler product to the cracks using a trowel and then let it dry and cure.
Once that’s done, you’ll want to apply the concrete resurfacer like Sakrete Flo-Coat over the entire slab using a squeegee. This product is designed to be set in just 3 hours and can handle light foot traffic in just 4 hours after application. It can also be color pigmented and stamped to create an appealing aesthetic.
Keep in mind that resurfacing a concrete patio alone will not change its overall appearance much. It will still have the same plain look as any other concrete patio, so if you want to enhance its appearance you’ll want to look into one of the following options.
Stamp the Concrete
Stamping concrete is a simple and easy way to improve the look of your plain old concrete patio. The basic idea is you’ll apply a concrete resurfacer over the old slab and then stamp a pattern into it using a template.There is a huge variety of different stamp patterns you can choose from, everything from a stone to brick to a wood flooring pattern. The process of creating a stamped concrete pattern is similar to the process of resurfacing described above.
In addition to the concrete mix, trowel, shovel, and squeegee, you’ll need to buy a polyurethane stamp mat. You apply the concrete resurfacer over the old concrete slab like above, and then you apply the stamp to the wet concrete.
You’ll likely need more than one stamp to stamp the entire slab before it dries. Also, you’ll want to make sure you apply enough concrete so that the stamp won’t touch the slab underneath when you apply it.
You’ll need to play around with how long you’ll need to leave the stamp in the concrete before removing it and reapplying it. You’ll also need some powdered or liquid release agent like Stamp-Tek Liquid Release to create a lubricated barrier between the stamp and the wet concrete.
Pavers are another excellent choice for sprucing up an old concrete patio. They’re basically textured concrete bricks designed to bear weight.
They’re available in a wide variety of different patterns, shapes, and dimensions, so you can easily find one to match your design plans.
One thing to keep in mind when planning this out is the thickness of the bricks can be an issue if you don’t have enough clearance between the concrete slab and your doorway. You’ll need to measure the space between the bottom of the doorway and the patio and ensure it’s less than the height of your pavers.
Pavers are available in a wide variety of dimensions, and you can typically find them with heights between 1” and 4”.
Installing the pavers will require a little heavy lifting, so be prepared to put in a little leg work. The first step is prepping the existing slab by cleaning it and then applying polymeric joining sand all over the patio. This sand contains polymers that will bond with the pavers when moisture is added.Next, glue the outermost layer of bricks. This layer is known as the “soldier layer”, and it works to hold all of the inner pavers in place and prevents them from moving.
Use some construction adhesive to glue down this outer layer and let it dry before moving on.
Next, apply the rest of the pavers, making sure to tamp them down and level them out as you go. When they’re all installed, pour more joining sand into the gaps between the pavers. Then, spray the whole patio down with water to activate the polymeric sand and bond the pavers together.
Similar to pavers, but more uniform and flatter, tiles are another solid inexpensive option to cover up a concrete patio.
Tiles require a smooth flat surface in order to work properly, so you’ll need to make sure the surface is completely flat before you install tiles. If it’s not, you’ll want to apply a self-leveling concrete resurfacer to the old concrete before you install any tile.
You’ll want to make sure your tiles are rated for outdoor use as well.
The first step is to thoroughly wash and clean the old slab with a TSP cleaner and a brush. Then, lay out your tiles without applying any thin-set mortar at first to make sure you have enough tiles and check if any need to be cut to size.
Next, mix a batch of thin-set mortar, apply it to the patio surface, and lay down the tiles using spacers to maintain a uniform gap between each tile. Then, wait for the mortar to dry completely before applying any grout.
Next, remove the spacers and apply the grout to the gaps in between the tiles. Grout is thin, so it will self-level in the gaps between the tiles.
When you’ve finished grouting, wipe down the tile’s surface to clean off any excess grout. Then, wait for the grout to cure and apply a sealant to waterproof the grout.
The above options are all fairly labor-intensive, but if you want a lazy and inexpensive way to cover up a concrete patio, then a physical cover-up like an outdoor rug or interlocking hardwood tiles both work well.
An outdoor rug like the JONATHAN Y Vintage Indoor/Outdoor Area Rug is a great way to cover up an old and worn-out patio. They’re cheap, can be swapped out in case you get bored of them, and look great when paired with outdoor seating, planters, torches, and more.Another great-looking option is installing some interlocking hardwood tiles. These gorgeous-looking teak wood tiles lock together like puzzle pieces and don’t require any special tools or expertise to install.
They will give your patio the look of a much more expensive all wood deck, at a fraction of the cost and effort.