As a homeowner, you can repair the concrete of your driveway, walkway, and steps if you invest in the right patching materials and tools, and take the time to prepare the surface properly before work begins. Note a few simple tips for ensuring successful concrete repair around your home so your work will look good and the repairs will last.
1. Undercut the edges
Undercutting the edges means to cut around the layer on the underside of the concrete, so that the base of the area to be repaired will be wider than the top. This gives the concrete more strength and will allow the repair job to be strong enough to last for years. To undercut concrete, use a chisel and hammer so you can reach into that underside and chip out some pieces and create that wider opening.
To tamp something means to push it down into an opening, and when you put down concrete patching material, you may not realize that you should tamp it into place. Use a float or trowel with a straight edge and gently tamp down the concrete patching mixture so that you remove air bubbles and so it settles into the cracked area, leaving no gaps or spaces around it.
3. Brush the surface
Note that concrete filler should be brushed or smoothed once it's set. Being set refers to when the material first begins to solidify but isn't quite hardened; once it reaches this consistency, you want to brush or smooth the surface so that it matches the area around it. Check the manufacturer's timeline for when you can expect patching materials to be set and then be sure you use your trowel or a stiff brush to smooth over and brush the surface of the patch so it looks better and more uniform once it hardens completely.
4. Use a form where necessary
For larger areas that need patching or for patching the side of a concrete step, use a form. This can be a wood chip that you put inside a large hole in the driveway and which will help keep fresh concrete in place, or a wood piece you nail to the chipped step with masonry nails and which will also keep wet concrete in place. Never assume you can or should just fill in cracks with patching compound alone but use forms for larger repairs and those to the side of any concrete piece.