How to Overlay Concrete Driveways

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A concrete driveway should last for many years. Unfortunately, harsh weather and other factors can damage the surface. Rather than replace the entire driveway, you can install a driveway overlay, which is a thin layer of concrete on top of the existing slab. Although a driveway-resurfacing project may be something you would rather leave to the professionals, if you understand how to pour concrete, you can take on this job as a do-it-yourself project. While you're adding the overlay, you can change the color of the slab, as well as add different designs to the surface.

Things You'll Need

  • Chisel
  • Hammer
  • Power washer
  • Dish detergent
  • Scrap lumber
  • 1-inch by 4-inch furring strips
  • Wooden stakes
  • Carpenter's level
  • Portland cement
  • Mixer
  • Old paintbrush
  • Sand
  • Gravel
  • Coloring agent
  • Rake
  • Long board
  • Float
  • Curing compound
  • Nonstick spray (optional)
  • Stamping tools (optional)
  • Use a chisel and hammer to break off any loose or cracked areas in the concrete. Use a power washer to remove all the debris from the surface of the driveway. If the concrete has grease stains, wash them with a mixture of four or five drops of dish detergent mixed in a gallon of water. Rinse well. Allow the surface to dry completely before proceeding.

  • Build forms to hold the overlay in place. They may be scrap lumber, or you can use 1-inch by 4-inch furring strips. Brace them against the existing concrete at the right height by placing wooden stakes in the ground to hold them. Use a carpenter's level to make sure the forms are level.

  • Mix Portland cement with water to the consistency of paint. Dampen the cement slab. Use an old paintbrush to spread the cement paint over the surface of the driveway. This acts as a bonding agent for the cement overlay.

  • Mix one part sand, two and a half parts Portland cement and water to form a thin overlay. If you are pouring a thicker overlay, you may add three measures of gravel to the mix. Add color to the mix at this time if you're coloring the concrete.

  • Pour the overlay mixture on the driveway surface before the cement paint dries completely. Use a rake to push the mixture into corners and other areas where it doesn't naturally flow.

  • Level the surface by pushing a long, straight board back and forth across the top of the forms. Add more overlay if necessary to any low spots.

  • Use a float to smooth the surface. Add a curing compound to the surface as soon as the surface is the way you want it. If you prefer, spray nonstick spray on concrete stamping tools and stamp the concrete overlay.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your driveway is on a steep incline, you may want to hire a professional to do the overlay. Self-leveling mixtures used by do-it-yourselfers don't work well on surfaces that have a steep slope.
  • Depending on how badly marred the surface of the concrete driveway is, you may need to fill cracks with concrete patching compound before you begin the overlay.
  • Pick a cloudy day with temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit for the best results.
  • For safety's sake, leave the surface slightly rough. Use a broom to roughen the surface if you don't have any special tools for that purpose.
  • Wear gloves when working with concrete products.
  • Wash all tools with water before the concrete dries on them.

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