Q?Can you color concrete?

Concrete can come in a wide variety of colors created by adding dyes to the liquid mixture.

Fixing damage to colored concrete is tricky. Getting the right blend of colors is not an exact science. Don’t expect a repairperson to create the perfect match.

If a perfect match is critical, consider removing and replacing the area with new concrete.

Q?What types of Concrete Finishes are available?

Concrete surfaces come in three different finishes. The most common for interiors has a smooth finish created by running a flat trowel over the top. This can be quite smooth, almost like glass.

Smooth surfaces don’t work well outside. A little water can turn a smooth concrete surface into a slip hazard. Contractors should texture exterior surfaces with a brush-textured finish, a rougher surface that wicks away water and provides traction.

Exposed aggregate finish is a rougher finish and less common. The gravel that makes up the concrete is exposed to the surface and good for traction.

Q?What are common concrete surfaces and uses?

There are several different types of concrete surfaces and which type you install depends on the area it will be installed. Here is where the most common types of concrete are typically used.

Garage or basement: Garage or basement concrete surfaces work well in garages and basements because they are structural floorings and can take heavy use with little maintenance. Cleaning concrete is also easier than other, more-delicate flooring.

Driveway and parking areas: Most driveway or parking areas are either concrete or asphalt. Brick or stone masonry is an expensive alternative. These areas need to handle heavy use and be easy to maintain. With concrete, you will need to finish the surface with a “brush-textured finish,” a rougher surface that helps with traction.

Exterior walkways: Concrete or stone masonry is popular options for exterior walkways. Stone masonry will be more decorative, however, concrete will be less expensive and requires less maintenance. A concrete walkway should also have a “brush-textured finish.”

Patios: Like walkways, concrete or stone masonry are popular options for a patio. Concrete will be less expensive and quicker to custom make and should have a “brush-textured finish” like all exterior concrete surfaces.

Detached garages, sheds and porches: Detached garages, sheds and porches need a concrete base flooring for support and structure.

Steps: Concrete steps are commonly installed at the same time as concrete walkways, patios and porches and the same factors should be considered.

Q?Can settling be repaired?

Settling is a common cause of damage as soils shift up and down over time. Concrete is designed for strength, but not necessarily for extreme flexibility. Small shifts are okay, but larger shifts will damage concrete. Settling is often a serious and expensive problem. In most cases, repair is not an option.

Q?Is there anything I can do about flaking concrete?

If you see the surface breaking away, this may signal that the concrete mixture may be flawed. Concrete’s unique blend of elements gives it strength and durability. Flaking is not a common characteristic.

Flaking can also be a sign that the concrete was poured during cold weather. A strong freeze will cause the new surface to become brittle and can make the surface prone to flaking. A professional can repair some surfaces, however, if damage is deeper, the pad will need replacing.

Q?What to do with a concrete edge that is cracked or broken?

Unfortunately, any hard surface can chip or break away at the edges. Commonly caused by impact or erosion, cracks can be fixed if the problem is small.

Q?How do you fix cracked or chipped concrete?

Often fissure openings in the surface or small pieces breaking away are signs of future problems. Take these tiny signals seriously and have a contractor check out the problems and make repairs.

Q?Can I clean dirty or stained concrete?

A professional power washer can usually remove splotches or stains on concrete surfaces. Sealing the surface against spills can prevent this.