Concrete stain: Refresh your cracking driveway and give it a new look!

A lot of Atlanta homeowners have driveways suffering from a lack of attention. Some of the problems...

A lot of Atlanta homeowners have driveways suffering from a lack of attention. Some of the problems are aesthetic while others are structural. Aesthetic problems usually involve mold, mildew or staining. However, structural problems can occur from any number of reasons such as concrete shrinking due to weather changes, settlement cracking, damage from excessive vehicular loading or upheaval from tree roots. Is your concrete driveway stained, worn out, cracking or crumbling? Is a complete driveway overhaul outside of your budget? If so, then perhaps concrete stain and/or resurfacing is a perfect option to refresh that unsightly driveway and increase your curb appeal.

Concrete patching

The first step to refreshing concrete is to patch any existing cracks and holes. However, keep in mind that this will only work for minor cracks, small thin gaps and small holes such as those no larger than 1/4- to 1/2-inch wide. The driveway must be a solid surface before you attempt any cleaning, resurfacing or staining. The areas needing attention should be filled with a concrete patching compound. After the compound has cured, the concrete must be cleaned before continuing.

Concrete cleaning

Concrete must be cleaned and free of contaminants before concrete resurfacing and/or staining can be done. It must be free of any paints, oils, dust, dirt, sealers, mold and mildew. A contractor will clean the concrete using various techniques depending on the condition of the driveway; this includes sand blasting, pressure washing, and/or chemical washing. After the surface has been cleaned, the concrete may be resurfaced and/or stained depending on the desired outcome and the condition of the existing driveway.

Concrete resurfacing

If your driveway suffers from cracking or crumbling, it will have to first be resurfaced before you can use a stain. A concrete resurfacing compound is used so that it can form a bond with the existing concrete. An added benefit of a resurfacing compound is that most concrete resurfaces are self leveling so that it leaves a nice smooth level finish. Basically the compound is troweled over the entire surface and then allowed to dry. After this is done, you should wait typically 14-28 days (depending on the stain manufacturer's instructions) before staining your concrete driveway.

Concrete decorative staining

Is your driveway ready for a bit of pizzazz? Depending on the condition of your driveway, you might be able to skip patching and resurfacing and just have your concrete driveway stained. However, staining results always work best on new concrete. So, what is concrete staining? Basically, it is infusing the concrete with a product, giving it either an opaque or translucent tone by penetrating the concrete surface and depositing color. It involves taking the run of the mill gray driveway and giving it some flair. Stains come in a variety of colors, and they can really add character to your driveway. There are two types of stains for concrete, reactive and nonreactive.

Reactive Stains: These stains are water based acidic solutions that contain mineral salts and that chemically react with concrete. They work by penetrating the concrete surface and then react with the existing calcium hydroxide, or lime, in the concrete; the more lime in the concrete, the stronger and more vibrant the finish. These are permanent type stains that provide a translucent mottled look and do not chip or peel. The best colors for driveway applications come in browns, tans and orange browns. The blue green colors are not really suitable for exterior application as the color inevitably changes due to environmental reasons.

Nonreactive Stains: These are water based acrylic stains and dyes, which come in a greater variety of colors than reactive stains, and simply pigment the concrete. These kinds of stains leave a more opaque look.

Factors to consider for staining

There are many factors that affect stain results, and you should discuss these factors with your contractor. Stains have different results depending on the composition of the cement, the age of the cement, the finishing of the cement, the concentration of the solution and weather conditions. Furthermore, since the stains are water-based, stain may continue to react over time, so this is a consideration that has to be made when selecting colors, and only colors that have had success in exterior applications should be used. Finally, the method of application, such as brush versus sprayer, can also provide a variation in results.

Ready to revamp the driveway?

Call a reputable remodeling specialist who specializes in concrete resurfacing and staining for more information on how to give your driveway a fresh new look. They will be able to best provide you with your options and discuss your expectations on the final finish.

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