How to Make Concrete Steps Look Better? (A Quick Guide)

In this article, we will answer the question, how to make concrete steps look better? The discussion will provide you step by step instruction on different ideas and project designs that you can use to improve your concrete steps for curb appeal.

How to make concrete steps look better?

There are a lot of designs you can use as a basis to make your concrete steps look better from painting, applying decorative tiles, wood planks, bricks, or even stamped concrete. However, before you start your makeover project it is important to check if your concrete steps are in need of repairs.

Concrete Step Repairs

Whether this renovation is to improve your front porch steps, driveway or even your garden, the first step of your concrete steps make-over is of course repairing any damage in your staircase. Small cracks can be fixed with filler, however, large cracks may require professional help as it could affect the foundation of your home.

In case major repair and foundation repair is necessary, the average cost for this repair is $3,667 with most homeowners spending between $2,271 and $4,207.

Tools Needed:

Materials Needed:

Step 1: Clean the concrete

Sweep the stairs to remove any loose pieces and debris with broom and trowel hand tools. Old concrete should be rigorously cleaned to ensure proper adhesion of fillers and resurfacer. A washer with 3500 psi pressure must be used to remove and dirt, grease, oil or any deteriorating concrete.

Step 2: Prepare the concrete patch mix

Concrete comes with its own bonding agent. Put the powder in the wheelbarrow or cement mixer. Pour a measured amount into the cement mix from a bucket rather than a hose.

Continue mixing for a few minutes then add water to achieve a peanut butter consistency. 

Step 3: Apply the concrete mix

Using a square nose shovel put some concrete mix on top of your concrete step. Use two trowels to spread your concrete mix; one trowel is for you to lean on while working with the other.

Step 4: Fill the holes

While the concrete is damp, fill up any holes with enough amount of filler. For a few scratches and small cracks in your concrete steps you can just add filler and cover up those holes. And smoothen with a finish trowel. However, if your concrete steps are damaged and you want it to look new again you can resurface your concrete.

Step 5: Resurface concrete steps

To resurface your concrete steps, tape off the edges first for areas you don’t want new concrete and fill walkway joints with weather stripping. Dampen the concrete then apply the resurfaces. For half a bag of powder with 51/2 cup of water at a time. Follow the instruction on the resurfaces brand you preferred for the preparation. Evenly spread it out until it’s between ⅛ and ¼ inch thick.

Step 6: Use a concrete finishing broom

If you prefer to make it slip-resistant, wait for 5 minutes then sweep a nylon-bristle concrete broom across it. Remove the weather stripping after 20 minutes then wait for 6 hours to proceed with your concrete step makeover.

You can also test using the broom if your concrete is too dry. Run the finishing broom across the concrete, if little balls appear, it is too dry. As a solution, spray little water on the surface and check again using the broom.

Plan for a Design

There are a wide range of designs you can apply to your concrete steps to make it look better. You can simply repaint it, add bricks, tiles, wood panels or decorative stones. Also you can place plants, lanterns and other decorative details at your front steps. All these steps can give a whole new look to your resurface concrete patio.

Here are some concrete front steps idea to achieve a new look for your old steps:

DIY Front Steps Decor

Sometimes a total transformation is not necessary to improve your concrete steps. A little bit of smart decorating can do the work. Add plants near your door and place them symmetrically and doormats with interesting colors. You can also add handrails, this will not just serve its function as aid when using the stairs but can improve the look of your front door steps.

DIY Concrete Steps Patch

If there is a tight budget for your project a plain patching of your existing concrete steps and resurfacing will already make a difference and improve your old concrete steps. 

DIY Front Step Makeover with Paint

A simple application of paints that will compliment the color of your house, your garden, and your driveway can make a drastic change to your front steps. Make sure to prime first your concrete steps before you start painting because it helps in binding the paint and concrete together. Epoxy paints are best for both indoors and outdoors use. Make sure that all parts are covered thoroughly. Let it dry and enjoy your renovated patio.

DIY Concrete Steps Covered with Wood Planks

Spice up the appearance of your concrete steps by adding some wood planks on top of your concrete steps. Drill holes on your wood planks for your cement bolts. Insert these cement bolts into each holes to anchor the wood to the cement. Coat the wood with flooring adhesive.

DIY New Brick Step Build

Building brick on top of your concrete step can also be another way to upgrade the look of your concrete step. Apply mortar to existing concrete steps using a mason’s trowel then lay the first riser brick in place, make sure they are level and flush. Apply another layer of mortar then set the bricks on the tread starting from the rear. Fill the joints completely with mortar then smoothen them.

DIY Front Steps Tile

A complimenting exquisite tile design can create a new look for your front porch. Pour the levelling compound and wait until it seeps and dries then arrange the tiles as based from your preferred design. Place a layer of adhesive to glue your tiles in place. Lay your tiles on the adhesive.

DIY Airstone Porch Stairs

Airstone is generally used for aquariums whose purpose is to gradually diffuse air into the tanks. However, airstones can also be used to cover-up your concrete steps. Just add adhesive to your airstones and lay the stones end-to-end based on your design.

DIY Stamped Concrete

Installing stamped concrete can be challenging but still worth it. Stamped concrete are also called textured or imprinted concrete and are replicated stones such as slate and flagstone, tile, brick and even wood.  Seal stamped concrete using a sealer. A sealer will also help enrich the color of the concrete; reduces the chance that efflorescence will discolor the surface, add a sheen to the surface, and blocks penetration of stains, chemicals, dirt, debris, leaves, etc.

Conclusion

This article answered the question, “how to make concrete steps look better?”. Wide variety of DIY projects to make your concrete steps look better but it is important to do repairs first before proceeding to your project. There are DIY designs and designs that you can consult a contractor, however, this will require additional labor cost.

For any questions and suggestions about this article, please feel free to submit your thoughts in the comment section below.

FAQs: How to make concrete steps look better?

Is precast concrete cheaper?

Precast concrete is cheaper compared to poured concrete. The cost of precast concrete panels on average is around $150 to $300 per square meter which is 23% percent cheaper than concrete poured on site. Also, precast concrete is fast to build, strong and durable. Energy efficient, sound insulting, and environmentally friendly.

How much does it cost to resurface concrete steps?

Resurfacing your patio, porch, driveways, and walkways can cost an average of $3 to $10 per square foot depending on the condition of your existing concrete slab and your local labor costs. A fee at least $500 to $1,000 for contractors can cover a small project. 

Can you pour new concrete over old cracked concrete?

You can pour new concrete directly over the old if your concrete is relatively sound and raises its elevation a few inches. However, you need to install a bond breaker between the slabs so that the two slabs will not bond to each other.

How do you stick new concrete to old concrete?

Mixing up a liquid bonding agent that contains polymers greatly improves the bond of portland cement of new concrete products to old. When using this liquid bonding agent, apply the bonding agent onto the existing concrete and allow it to dry then apply the repair material once the bonder becomes tacky. 

What sticks best to concrete?

Adiseal adhesive and sealant is the best adhesive for bonding different items such as metal, stone, tile, cable, polystyrene, glass and other materials. It had been proven to be the best by an independent adhesive strength test by Ultimate Handyman. It is flexible, waterproof, does not stain or bleed, has very high gap fill properties, has high initial grab and does not require sealing.

REFERENCES:

BH&G Editors. (2020, February 7). Your step-by-step guide on how to pour concrete steps. Better Homes and Gardens. Retrieved from https://www.bhg.com/home-improvement/outdoor/walkways/how-to-pour-concrete-steps/

Cameron, J. (n.d.). DIY experts show how to repair concrete steps by patching and resurfacing them. DIY Network. Retrieved from https://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/skills-and-know-how/masonry-and-tiling/how-to-patch-and-resurface-concrete-steps

Carr, G. (2018, December 26). Stamped concrete stairs: Bringing life to your concrete steps. GWC. Retrieved from http://gwcdecorativeconcrete.com/blog/stamped-concrete-stairs/

Concrete adhesive (2021, January 14). Retrieved from https://adiseal.com/concrete-adhesive/#:~:text=Adiseal%20is%20the%20best%20adhesive%20to%20use%20on%20concrete%20as,type%20of%20material%20to%20concrete.

Crawford, J. (2020, August 24). How to paint concrete steps. Improvenet by Craftjack. Retrieved from https://www.improvenet.com/a/how-to-paint-concrete-steps

Gleeson, J. (2020, March 31). 20 DIY front step ideas to up your home’s curb appeal. Country Living. Retrieved from https://www.countryliving.com/home-maintenance/g31970500/front-step-ideas/.

How much does concrete resurfacing cost. (2020, October 19). Thumbtack. Retrieved from https://www.thumbtack.com/p/concrete-resurfacing-cost

How to fix up an entrance (n.d.). DIY Network. Retrieved from: https://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/skills-and-know-how/carpentry-and-woodworking/how-to-fix-up-an-entrance

Schneider, R. (2020, October 20). Building with precast concrete panels. Hi Pages.Retrieved from https://hipages.com.au/article/building_with_precast_concrete_panels

Stamped Concrete (n.d.). Stamped concrete. Retrieved from: https://www.stampedconcrete.org/step-by-step.html

Vandewater, S. (2016, April 25). Placing new concrete over old. Indiana Decorative Concrete Network. Retrieved from https://indecorativeconcrete.com/placing-new-concrete-over-old/

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