Unfortunately over time, many patios, verandas or other paved concrete areas begin to develop cracking, and very quickly the paved area will not be an area where you want to spend much time or especially where you want to be enjoying with visitors or friends either. So what are the best options for dealing with a cracked concrete slab?
To some extent, it depends on the extent and nature of the cracking itself. If the concrete has been correctly laid, there would normally be some steel reinforcing mesh laid in the slab, which would normally ensure that any cracks don’t open up very much and avoid any significant mismatch in height on either side of the cracking.
If the cracking is relatively insignificant and does not extend completely across the concrete slab, you can probably use some type of patching material to repair the cracks. There’s a wide variety of patching compounds available either online or through your nearest home center, but the better products will always be those which remain somewhat flexible over time. The reason being that although your repair job might look great immediately after you have finished it, over time the cracks may continue to open further and before very long, you’ll find that once again you need to make some repairs.
However the main issue with patching compounds is that they will never be able to fix the repair so that the deck is restored to its pristine original condition. Firstly, the patching compound will probably not precisely match the color of the concrete nor will it match the texture of the existing concrete, so it’s almost impossible to make a repair job that is invisible. Ideally therefore, you want to find some method which can hide the cracking altogether.
One solution might be to cover the concrete with outdoor carpet although your choice of color is rather limited and outdoor carpet is not everyone’s cup of tea.
Another alternative is to cover the area with interlocking deck tiles. Although these tiles have been on the market for almost 20 years, they are still not particularly well known because they are generally only sold online and not so much through brick and mortar retailers and almost never sold through traditional tile retailers. These decking tiles can be very useful because they are relatively tolerant of small cracking providing there is no significant mismatch in height on either side of a crack, as they rely of sitting on a flat surface to avoid the tiles rocking and potentially creating a tripping hazard.
These tiles simply snap together by means of the connecting tabs present on all four sides of the tile. So essentially you just place a tile in one corner of the area you want to cover and then just keep locking the tiles together at the outside edges until you have covered the entire area. You don’t need to worry about misalignments, variable spacing etc. that can plague a conventional tile laying projects since the tiles line up accurately without any effort.
A much better option however is undoubtedly porcelain pavers. These ¾” thick pavers are much thicker than a conventional interior ceramic or porcelain tile and means they can be laid as a type of ‘floating floor’ only supported at each of the four corners. For most patio installations over existing concrete, you just use rubber pads under the corners. These pads, typically 3/8” or ½” thick, have inbuilt spacer tabs so you don’t need to worry about alignment or spacing as this is taken care of automatically. The beauty of these pads is that they can be stacked, so if you want your resurfaced patio to be perfectly level rather than slope for drainage purposes, you can easily achieve just that. So as you lay the pavers across the area from high side to low side, you just stack the rubber pads to build up the height, with thin shims being used to make minor height adjustments so the pavers don’t rock on the surface. You can use this method up to a height of about 1 ½”. Beyond that height, adjustable height pedestals which have a screwed central column to adjust the height, become more a more economical option.
Instead of porcelain pavers, you could also use structural Ipe wood tiles which do not have any plastic base underneath like the interlocking wood tiles but are simply laid over the rubber support pads like the porcelain pavers. There tiles use thicker wood than interlocking tiles as they are designed for high traffic commercial use. You must however ensure that these tiles are not laid directly on the concrete. They need good air circulation under the tiles and should not remain in contact with water for extended periods.