HOME IMPROVEMENT GUIDE: Conquer Sidewalk Cracks
By Kerri Bartlett, Assistant Editor
Most homeowners can identify with the dilemma of a cracked sidewalk. In addition to being a safety hazard, a cracked sidewalk can also be an eyesore. Fortunately, repairing a cracked sidewalk isn’t very diffi cult.
• ENLARGE THE CRACK. The fi rst thing to do when repairing cracks that are bigger than a hairline crack is to enlarge the crack. Use a chisel and hammer to enlarge the crack along its entire length.
• UNDERCUT THE CRACK. When repairing a crack, you want to undercut the crack. Undercutting means you will be making the crack wider at the bottom than at the top. When it’s time to lay new concrete, undercutting will help create a stronger bond between the new concrete and the old.
• REMOVE LOOSE MATERIAL Once the crack has been undercut, remove any loose material, then brush the cleaned area with a wire brush to be sure no residual materials are still there.
• APPLY A CONCRETE ADHESIVE. A concrete adhesive isn’t a necessity, but it will help the new concrete hold when the time comes to lay it down. Once the adhesive has been brushed into the undercut area, allow it to dry until it has a slightly sticky feel.
Homeowners who prefer not to use a concrete adhesive should moisten the area that needs repairing with water. Just moisten the area, as you don’t want any standing water.
• APPLY THE CONCRETE AS DIRECTED. When using a pre-mixed concrete patch, all you will likely need to add is water. For larger cracks, some homeowners prefer to mix their own patch. When mixing your own patch, you will likely need to add sand and/or gravel. * TIGHTLY TAMP THE PATCH INTO THE UNDERCUT AREA. All areas should be completely fi lled.
• SMOOTH THE REPAIRED AREA DOWN. As the mixture starts to set, use a trowel or wooden fl oat to smooth down the repaired area.
• ALLOW THE REPAIRED AREA TO DRY. Give the repaired area a couple of hours to dry. After roughly two hours, cover the repaired area with boards or plastic sheeting.
• KEEP THE AREA COVERED. The repaired area should be kept covered for roughly fi ve days. During this period, wet the repaired area once a day. This allows the concrete to cure.
Top home-improvement mistakes
David Crane, president of Crane Builders, LLC said the top mistakes homeowners make are avoidable with a little – well, a lot, actually – of planning.
OVERESTIMATE ONE’S SKILL LEVEL
They start a Do-It-Yourself project and realize that they are not qualifi ed to complete the job.
Some people get into financial trouble because a project grows into a bigger undertaking than was expected due to unforeseen complications. A good contractor can help homeowners predict the unplanned for occurrences that might be lurking behind the walls, in the pipes or under the fl oor.
HIRING AN LESS THAN COMPETENT WORKER
Some homeowners make the mistake of hiring contractors who are not qualifi ed or competent for the type of job that is being administered. When the project is not performed correctly, another contractor has to be hired to redo the project, which can increase the overall cost. Ask a builder if they have done similar projects and for references on those projects. Someone who does small projects might not have the most expertise in bigger projects.
HAVING UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
The biggest caveat is to have realistic expectations of the scope of work and cost, which can greatly eliminate fi nancial surprises. Many times, homeowners will begin a simple project and run into other steps that they never anticipated, such as removing fl oor coverings or walls only to discover that a mold problem exists or old structures must be replaced.
FAILING TO PERFORM PROPER PLANNING AND RESEARCH.
Problems can be avoided by properly researching a project. Talk to a professional. Make sure that you have a solid understanding of the scope of work and cost of a project before it is started. Most of these mistakes can be avoided by proper planning and research before a project begins.
Posted on: 4/8/2013