Guide to Fixing Brick and Concrete

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Home Improvement

Repairing Concrete Steps


To repair damaged front or back concrete steps, chisel out the worn edges to remove the crumbling concrete and create a clean, open angle along the top of the step.

Over time, concrete steps can become worn and damaged by harsh weather conditions. However, recasting damaged steps is a simple process that can be completed with ease.

Tools Required:

  • Safety goggles
  • Cold chisel
  • Sledgehammer
  • Whiskbroom
  • Garden hose
  • Hammer
  • Sturdy wheelbarrow
  • Shovel
  • Stiff paintbrush
  • Trowel
  • Wood concrete float

Materials Required:

  • Boards as long and wide as the steps to be mended
  • Bricks
  • Boards for sides of form
  • Short pieces of 2 × 4
  • 4-penny common nails
  • Ready-mix sand concrete mix
  • Liquid concrete bonding agent
  • Plastic dropcloth

Estimated Time: 1 day; if multiple steps need recasting, plan to spend more time. Additionally, several minutes will need to be spent each day during the curing period. To start the project, use a cold chisel and sledgehammer to chisel out the crumbling concrete at the edge of each damaged step. Wear safety goggles and angle the chisel to cut straight back into the riser of the step and sharply down into the tread, forming an acute open V along the edge of the step. Clean the undercut edge with a whisk broom and flush it thoroughly with a garden hose.

Next, build a form around the step that needs recasting. Use a board as long and wide as the front edge of the step and stack several bricks against each end to hold it firmly in place. Ideally, the top edge of the form should be level with the sound surface of the step.


Build a form for each step by wedging boards upright at the sides and propping a board flat against the riser.

To close the ends of the steps, set a board across each side of the chiseled-out step, flush against the concrete and level with the step surface at the top edge. Nail a piece of 2 × 4 across each board along the top of the step and wedge another piece of 2 × 4 under this brace to hold the forms solidly in place.

Prepare the ready-mix sand concrete mix according to the instructions on the package. Pour the dry mix into a sturdy wheelbarrow, add water, and mix it thoroughly with a shovel. When the concrete mix is ready to use, dampen the chiseled-out step with a garden hose. Apply liquid concrete bonding agent to the undercut edge with a stiff paintbrush according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Spread the bonding agent evenly into the undercut edge, being careful to cover the entire inside surface. Clean the paintbrush immediately with water and work quickly to apply the concrete mix.

To repair a boarded-in step, fill the edge cavity with concrete and use a trowel or shovel to spread it along the edge. Remove any air spaces by slicing through the new concrete with the sharp end of the trowel and pack it firmly into the undercut edge. Roughly level the surface with the trowel to meet the surface of the old concrete. Smooth the newly poured concrete with a wood float, ensuring it is level on both the old surface and the new edge. Wait for the concrete to harden for about 45 minutes and then smooth the surface again with the wood float to match the texture of the old concrete. If you prefer a smoother finish, wait until the water film on the concrete has been absorbed and then use a clean trowel to smooth the edge of the step. Allow the concrete to set until the surface water film has been absorbed, then cover the steps with a plastic dropcloth, weighted above and below the mended steps and at the sides. Let the patched edges cure for a week before walking on them. During the curing period, lift off the plastic several times a day and spray the recast steps lightly with water from a garden hose, then replace the plastic. To avoid damaging the new edges, keep the forms in place until the concrete has completely cured. Check out the next page for instructions on repairing cracks in brick or concrete block walls. For additional home repair tips and instructions, read Home-Repair Safety Tips and Home-Repair Tool Basics.

FAQ

1. What are the most common types of damage to bricks and concrete?

The most common types of damage to bricks and concrete are cracks, chips, and spalling. Cracks can be caused by natural settling, temperature changes, or structural issues. Chips can occur from impact or wear and tear. Spalling is when the surface of the brick or concrete breaks off in small pieces, usually due to water damage or freeze-thaw cycles.

2. How do I know if I need to repair my bricks or concrete?

If you notice any cracks, chips, or spalling in your bricks or concrete, it is important to repair them as soon as possible. These types of damage can worsen over time and lead to more extensive and costly repairs down the road. Additionally, if you see any signs of water damage or mold, it is crucial to address the issue immediately.

3. Can I repair my bricks or concrete myself?

Yes, minor repairs can usually be done by a DIYer with the right tools and materials. However, if the damage is extensive or involves structural issues, it is best to hire a professional contractor. It is important to follow proper safety precautions when working with bricks and concrete, as they can be heavy and sharp.

4. What tools and materials do I need for brick and concrete repairs?

For brick repairs, you will need a chisel, hammer, trowel, mortar mix, and a wire brush. For concrete repairs, you will need a drill, mixing paddle, concrete patching compound, and a trowel. It is also important to have safety equipment such as gloves, goggles, and a dust mask.

5. How do I repair cracks in my bricks or concrete?

To repair cracks, use a chisel and hammer to widen the crack and remove any loose material. Then, apply a layer of mortar or concrete patching compound, making sure to fill the crack completely. Smooth out the surface with a trowel and allow it to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

6. How do I repair chips in my bricks or concrete?

To repair chips, clean the area with a wire brush and apply a layer of mortar or concrete patching compound. Smooth out the surface with a trowel and allow it to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If the chip is deep, you may need to apply multiple layers.

7. How do I repair spalling in my bricks or concrete?

To repair spalling, use a chisel and hammer to remove any loose material. Then, apply a layer of mortar or concrete patching compound, making sure to fill in the damaged area completely. Smooth out the surface with a trowel and allow it to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

8. How do I prevent future damage to my bricks or concrete?

To prevent future damage, make sure to address any issues promptly and keep an eye out for signs of damage. Additionally, regular maintenance such as cleaning and sealing can help protect your bricks and concrete from water damage and wear and tear.

9. How long does it take for the repairs to dry?

The drying time will vary depending on the type of repair and the manufacturer’s instructions. Generally, it can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days for the repairs to fully dry and cure.

10. Can I paint over the repairs?

Yes, you can paint over the repairs once they are fully dry and cured. Make sure to use a paint that is specifically formulated for use on bricks or concrete and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

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