Concrete is very durable and a concrete installation can last for a very long time. However, most concrete installations develop gaps, cracks, crevices, and holes sooner or later. If your concrete driveway, garage floor, path or patio is developing cracks, it is better to make the necessary repairs immediately. What may start off as a small problem is only likely to get bigger and more difficult and expensive to fix.
Cracks in concrete typically start to appear because of thermal movement, shrinkage or some other causes. The danger is that these cracks can widen over time and cause water seepage, which can result in the structural integrity of your home being compromised. Cracks in your concrete patio, driveway, walkway, garage, foundation, etc. are not only unsightly, they can be a hazard and cause you to trip and fall and can also hamper the value of your home.
Before you repair the concrete crack, it is a good idea to assess the general area and determine the cause of the crack. You need to assess if the structural foundation of your home has been compromised and if yes, you must determine the root cause, which could be:
If the concrete crack has resulted in structural damage, then you will need to use a flexible material and technique to resolve the problem. In the case that the concrete crack is a non-structural problem i.e. a decorative or aesthetic problem, even then, the issue must be addressed and fixed as soon as possible before it spreads or worsens, even if it calls for simply monitoring the situation. Hairline or less critical concrete cracks could be because of:
Any cracks in the concrete must be fixed to achieve any one of the following:
You must first eliminate the cause of the problem before fixing the crack in the concrete and preventing any further damage to the concrete is essential to the success of the repair job you undertake. Also, how to repair cracked concrete depends upon the size of the crack.
So, how to repair cracked concrete really? Well, while in some cases you may need to bring in a professional to fix the concrete; however, you can fix the cracks on your own too.
You cannot repair concrete surfaces using concrete. Instead, you need to make use of a concrete repair mix, which is available readily online or at home improvement stores. There are different types of concrete repair mixes available such as latex patching material, epoxy compounds, and mortar mixes.
Latex patching materials and epoxy compounds are suitable for concrete cracks which are 1/8-inch wide or narrower, while mortar mixes work best to fill chipped edges or large cracks.
It is very important to prepare the area of cracked concrete that you want to patch.
This part of the job can get quite dusty and so, to make the cleaning up much easier for you, it is a good idea to spread a tarp below the area you’re working. Most importantly, ensure that you are wearing proper protective eyewear, rubber gloves and protective gear.
You can fill narrow concrete cracks using latex or epoxy patching products. You can apply the product using a caulking gun or several of these products are available in bottles with applicator tips. For hairline or very small cracks, you can use a vinyl concrete patching compound.
You must apply this compound over the crack and then smoothen it using a trowel or putty knife. Usually, in the case of hairline cracks, applying the crack filler or caulk over the cracks is not effective because, over time, the caulk starts to peel off the concrete surface.
In the case of larger cracks and imperfections, use a mortar mix. You can create your own mix, which is extremely simple. Combine 1-part Portland cement, 3-parts of masonry sand and sufficient water and mix them all together to form a thick paste. You also have the option of purchasing a readymade repair mortar mix online or from your local home improvement store.
The most important thing to repairing wide cracks in the concrete is by undercutting the sides of the crack so that it gets an inverted “V” shape. This allows the mortar mix to get into the crack and create a mechanical bond, as well as a chemical bond between the patching material and the concrete.
So, now that you have learned how to repair cracked concrete, there is no need to get into panic mode when you notice cracks in any concrete structure in your home. If the crack is not a serious one, then with a few materials on hand, a bit of patience and effort, you can fix the crack and get the concrete looking brand new in no time at all.