Tips to notice damage & repair front steps
Last modified: 2019/02/05 | Approximate reading time 5 mins
Leaving your house at the start of a long day and returning home at the end of one is a rite of passage. The steps that lead up to your front door deal with the weight of yourself and your loved ones going through these motions, in and out, over and over. So of course, it’s not surprising that the front steps of your home can begin to wear down over time. If you’re dealing with a cracked or broken step or beginning to notice signs of wear and tear, then you’ll need some tips on how to deal with this as soon as possible.
Repairing a damaged front step should be taken seriously, as leaving a crack or hole to grow can be dangerous as well as unattractive. Read on to find the vital signs that your stairs need to be repaired as well as maintenance tips to keep them good as new.
Tips to notice damage and repair your concrete front steps
1- The concrete is crumbling
Concrete is an appealing material for many homeowners and contractors alike. This is for a number of reasons, but one of the main ones is its durability. If properly cared for, concrete can last for decades and will require little to no maintenance or deteriorating. Of course, as with any material that’s used outdoors, when employed for front steps, concrete is exposed to various harsh weather conditions including rain, snow, storm, sun and so forth.
If you’re taking a step down from your front door and notice that the steps are crumbling, this is a definite sign that the concrete is internally deteriorating and will need to be repaired as soon as possible. It may be especially urgent if you notice huge chunks of the steps missing or pieces that have fallen to the side of the staircase or along your front walkway. This might simply be a cosmetic fix, as the steps could still be in good shape internally.
2- They wobble when you walk
As mentioned, your front steps are subjected to heavy foot traffic. You might not notice signs of damage outwardly, but when you step down do your steps feel unsafe to walk on? If you answered yes, this is a definite signifier that your steps are internally crumbling. If there’s just a slight wobble in certain parts of the step, chances are there is a deeper problem going on. This is a structural issue, and repair methods for this may be more complex than for the above problem.
3- Weather is making them worse
So, your front steps appear to be in good shape and they feel ok for the most part. However, following every single winter, you notice more damage than was present before. If you’re living in a particularly cold climate and use quite a lot of salt on your staircase, this will add to the concrete’s deteriorating. Rain is another weather condition that has a huge impact on your outdoor surfaces. If you live in a particularly wet climate, there’s a chance your front steps will need to be repaired more often than those in dry areas of the country.
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How to repair your front steps: cosmetic repairs
Now, if your stairs seem to be in decent structural shape but you’ve noticed stains that are unbecoming, these can be tended to easily. On top of the stains, there are several other superficial issues that are common among front steps. These include some of the aforementioned signs such as crumbling, flaking as well as crazing, which can be seen as spider web-like cracks. If these issues are simply minor, we’d suggest using a resurfacer to smooth out the appearance of your steps. These products can be found at your local hardware store, but bear in mind that you’ll need to look for one specifically made for the outdoors.
Begin by giving your staircase a thorough clean to remove any stuck-on dirt or debris. A power washer can be very effective, but avoid using one if your stairs are crumbling. If you need a tool that is a little bit softer, consider using a wire-bristle brush. After the area has been cleared, you’ll need to prepare your resurfacer. Follow the instructions as listed by the manufacturer. In most cases, this will involve combining water and resurfacer in a large bucket.
Next, dampen your concrete steps, lay and spread out the resurfacer over your stairs making sure to smooth it out using a trowel as best as possible. You may need more than one trowel for best results. When that’s completed, you’ll need to let it dry for a few hours. Ideally, this should leave behind a surface that is blemish-free. Be certain to wait a few hours before yourself or your loved ones step down on it. Then, voila! Of course, if the damage in your stairs actually points to internal problems, this will not solve them.
How to repair your front steps: structural repairs
While your stairs may need a bit of a cosmetic upkeep, if the problem is more serious it will need to be dealt with as soon as possible. This is because any structural damage in concrete will only worsen over time. As you should already be aware, structural repairs are much more complex than cosmetic ones and if they’re very bad you may need to put in quite a bit of effort.
Regardless of where the damage rests, begin by getting rid of any loose material on the steps. Loose pieces left can compromise the fixed surface. Brush away any debris and make sure the space is clean and clear. Now, if there is a fairly significant hole, you’ll need to insert a metal rod into the stair itself. This is called a re-rod. Drill a hole into the space where there’s a break. Now, take a metal rod that’s been set aside and coat it in the bonding material. Also, place some bonding material into the hole, making sure there is no debris in the hole before doing this.
Put the rod into the hole with force, but do leave half of its length sticking out. Now, use the same bonding material and coat the broken pieces of the step with it. Do this job with a brush so that it finds its way into all the tiny cracks. Now, take a patching compound from your local hardware store and mix this with water as per the instructions of the manufacturer.
It will appear like wet concrete and may be difficult to spread at first. If the hole or piece missing is large, you’ll need some scrap lumber to fill in the section. Screw or nail it in place if necessary. Now, take a trowel and apply the mixture to the necessary areas, making sure to smooth it out.
This will need to cure for a week before the steps will be ready for feet.
If the problem runs much deeper, you may need to replace the staircase altogether. Do make sure this is completed with the help of a trusty contractor.
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