A lot of homes have concrete balconies because they’re durable. But what about concrete balcony restoration? Concrete is a strong material that can withstand outdoor conditions better than most. Eventually, though, after years of rain, snow, sun, and other factors, concrete balconies break down.
Small cracks grow and the concrete fades. Harsh conditions, poor maintenance, or low build quality can ruin a concrete balcony even faster. Those small cracks are harmless at first, but if left alone too long and cause the concrete to separate and break apart. As a result, the broken concrete can be a safety hazard for people walking on it.
Here’s an easy guide to concrete balcony restoration so you can keep your balcony is great shape.
Watch the Cracks
A lot of concrete has cracks in it, and most of them are harmless. It is, however, important for homeowners to keep an eye on cracks in concrete balconies.
Note when they appear and monitor them for six months. If they keep growing, it could point to larger problems in the concrete. It may be necessary to ask a structural engineer to inspect the balcony to see if it’s salvageable.
Growing or large cracks can underscore larger problems in the build quality. Small cracks that stay small can be easily repaired.
Concrete Balcony Restoration Steps
Restoration and repair is a great way to refresh your concrete balcony and save the money you would have spent building a new one. Most of the time, restoration efforts make the balcony look brand new!
Here are the steps involved in basic concrete balcony repair and restoration.
1. Clean the Surface
The concrete balcony must be as clean as possible before any work is done on it. Trapping dirt, debris, or an excessive amount of dust will affect the way it looks and whether paint or sealant will stay on as long. If possible, a power washer is the best way to get the concrete clean. Run it over the surface slowly to give it time to rock any mud or concrete debris free. Do your best to expose the cracks and get any material out of them.
2. Prep the Area
Some concrete balconies have wood, plastic or metal rails or other items attached to it. Use some duct tape or plastic sheeting to cover any non-concrete areas to avoid getting them dirty. Also, tape over any control joints on the balcony. Control joints allow concrete to expand and shrink in different weather conditions. They need to say in good condition and you don’t want to cover them with any new concrete.
3. Repair the Cracks
Home improvement stores sell concrete caulk. It comes in tube form and can be used to fill up cracks and seal them. Different caulks require different setting times, so make sure you read the instructions on whatever product you’re using. After the cracks are full, use a wet finger or a smooth tool like a putty knife to run across and smooth the surface. Proceed to the next step after the caulk is dry.
4. Concrete Dressing
Concrete dressing usually comes in a five-gallon tub and is a dressing spread across old cement to give it a fresh finish. Typically, concrete dressing is mixed with water until it’s slurry and smooth. Spread the dressing across the entire surface of the concrete balcony. Make sure to add as much pressure as possible when inserting dressing into crevices. It will affect the final product.
Depending on the size of your balcony, this may require more helping hands. You want just enough dressing prepped to finish a section of the balcony, but not too much it dries out before it’s on. Someone on hand to prep small batches will help make sure your dressing doesn’t set before it’s applied.
Be warned, concrete dressing dries very quickly. It’s hard enough for people to walk on the concrete after just two hours. It’s usually good to go for anything, though, after around eight hours. Weather will also be a big factor in how fast things dry. Do your best to restore your concrete patio when there isn’t any rain or high winds in the forecast. If dirt, branches, and leaves get blown into your new wet dressing, it could ruin the way it looks.
It’s critical to apply the dressing as smoothly as possible. This step has a huge impact on the final look of the concrete balcony restoration. Make sure you have a trowel on hand to do the spreading. A trowel is a flat tool specifically designed for smoothing out concrete and will make your job a lot easier.
5. Add Some Texture
It’s not the best idea to have a perfectly smooth concrete balcony. Some people might prefer the look of smooth concrete, but it’s a safety hazard. Especially when wet, it’s easy to slip and fall on smooth concrete surfaces. Add some texture to the dressing before it dries with a bristle brush or some other tool designed for texturing concrete.
Restoring a concrete balcony isn’t a dangerous job, but there are some basic safety precautions everyone should be aware of for the job. Taking a few steps to keep things safe will make sure nothing bad happens. It might be a good idea to tape or rope the balcony off so visitors or children in the area know not to step on the concrete.
Having an area cordoned off will also help things stay safe during power washing. Power washers are very strong, and the water jet can send rocks and wood chips flying. Users should wear glasses or safety goggles when operating a power washer.
That’s it! Follow these steps to get an older concrete balcony looking new in no time. It’s a straightforward project that most DIYers can tackle with little trouble and a few trips to the home improvement store. Get it done before summertime so you can enjoy reading, grilling, and other outdoor activities from your lovely refreshed balcony.