Back in the 70’s and 80’s, pouring a concrete patio was an easy and inexpensive way to enjoy an outdoor living space with relatively little upkeep. But over time, that surface has likely begun cracking and crumbling, leaving you grumbling and wondering what to do to breathe new life into the backyard. Luckily, there are plenty of options that will allow you to give that old concrete patio a facelift without having to jackhammer it out and start all over again. Also, autumn is a perfect time to kick off a project like this because the weather is beautiful and you won’t have to forgo any summer fun to get the job done. So if that old concrete is giving you the heebie-jeebies, here are a few ideas to bring it up to date with the times:
If your concrete is in good condition without a lot of cracks, a color treatment might be all you need to give it new life. Best of all, this is an easy do-it-yourself job that can be tackled in a day or weekend. Staining concrete works by breaking into the surface to create a different color or texture, so you’ll need to add a non-slip sealant to ensure the concrete stays strong. Also, never use an indoor product for outdoor purposes as they will make the concrete very slippery after rain. The most popular staining trend right now is transforming the cold gray color of concrete to a warmer, more natural reddish brown.
People love pavers because they break up a patio with more texture than one huge slab of concrete. You can achieve a similar look by scoring your current concrete and adding patterns and lines to mimic the look. This will require a professional who will come in and use a machine to cut one-quarter inch lines into the original pavement. What’s neat about scoring is that you can choose tons of different designs - from traditional square or rectangular shapes to diamond or intersecting lines. What I love about scoring is that you get a similar look to pavers without having to worry about weeds growing through the cracks.
If you really love the look of pavers, it’s possible to lay thinner stone over your existing concrete slab, just as long as the finished height won’t cause any drainage or walking issues. It’s always a good idea to have a professional look at the property first to make sure you won’t have any problems down the track. If you have the height clearance for it, the project is simple and the veneer of your choice can simply be mortared onto the existing concrete for a whole new look. If your current concrete has visible cracking, this is a great way to cover it up, but if the patio is crumbling, you might need to have it repaired before going over it with a veneer.
If you’re not into refinishing your concrete, you can create dimension by adding walls or fencing to the backyard. Creating individual spaces for dining, cooking, or lounging can be done with low walls which can double as seating, or higher walls to create privacy and intimacy. If you’re looking for a less expensive option, a trellis or vertical garden can be built to create a beautiful green wall in the warmer months. Even rows of potted palms will do the trick, plus they can be moved around depending on the different ways that you’ll be using your space.
No matter how you choose to update your concrete patio, there are plenty of options based on both your needs and budget. Do you have another idea that you’d like to try? I’d love to hear from you. Send me a message on Facebook at facebook.com/odonnellbros.
Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.