How to Make Your Patio Look New Again for Less Than $100

how to make your old patio like new again

olympic disclaimer

Last year, I made an Olympic-sized (pun-intended) effort to make over my back yard.

took down ivy (which dumped bugs and dirt in my bra), sawed down branches, pulled out weeds longer than my arm, built a fencefound an entire toy store’s worth of balls and frisbees, and even dressed up my tiny patio with some new outdoor chairs and a couple planters. There was just one problem:

My concrete slab patio is complete garbage.

It’s not really the slab’s fault; it’s mine. I often work on projects on my own, slowly, and there are simply never enough hours in the day, muscles in my back, and patience in my body to get it all done as quickly as I can visualize in my mind. Thus, this little patio paid the price from neglect and was now begging for help. So when Olympic asked me to review their Rescue It! deck and concrete resurfacer, I figured I give it a try. After all, anything is better than this!

I must admit, I was a little nervous about trying out an outdoor paint project on concrete. While I have had plenty of practice with paint, I don’t paint a lot of things that are left outside. Outdoor products have to withstand a multitude of issues, and paint can chip and peel when temperature and moisture creep into the surface. But the promises of Rescue It! seemed, well, promising: with the proper preparation, I could get a like-new patio that would also withstand the elements and fill in cracks… which might even help the patio not look like this again in the future.

What You’ll Need:

  • Olympic Premium Deck Cleaner
  • Garden style pump sprayer (I used a 1-gallon size with a high-volume tip)
  • Stiff bristle broom
  • Pressure washer
  • Concrete caulk or patching compound
  • Olympic Rescue It! Resurfacer (measure out your surface area and make sure you’ve got enough to do two coats… you need more than you think!)
  • 3″ brush
  • 1/2″ nap roller
  • Roller tray
  • Extension pole
  • A weather forecast that actually cares about getting your projects done on time

Colors

I was somewhat impressed with the extensive color selection, but wasn’t thrilled at how tiny the take-home swatches are (it’s tougher to be sure you’re picking out the right color). After having painted the slab in front of the house with paint once before, I knew how difficult finding the perfect “freshly poured cement” color would be. Grays are usually too blue, so it’s better to steer toward grays with lots of brown in them. Now that I’ve lived with the front slab gray color for a while, I knew I wanted something slightly darker and with a little more brown in it for the back yard. Heritage Gray was my answer.

Olympic Rescue It color options

#Prepmatters

To do this project, it’s important to remember to properly prep the surface. Really. I’m all for skipping steps when and if you can – but in this case, to get this product to stick for the long haul, you need to follow all of the directions (which are downloadable, here).

First, brush off any loose debris from the patio and fill up the pump sprayer with deck cleaner. The patio should be completely dry when you spray, and you’ll need to spray the solution at full concentration (this surprised me, as most cleaners like this are usually mixed with water). Even without scrubbing, you will see a noticeable difference in a matter of minutes.

Don’t be surprised if you see some white buildup as the cleaner starts to take effect. Since you’re outside, you won’t have to worry too much about ventilation, but this cleaner smells somewhat bleachy – so be sure to wear suitable clothing and eye protection and avoid sticking your nose directly into the bottle (or in layman’s terms, “breathing in the fumes”).

If you think your patio is particularly gross (like mine), use a stiff broom to help evenly distribute the cleaner and scrub off any algae. I was pretty impressed with the difference I could see in the concrete already; just look at that color change!

Next, hose everything off. A pressure washer works best to clear off any loose dirt (since my patio is level with the ground, hosing things off just right so as to not wash dirt back onto the patio proved to be a little bit of a challenge). I borrowed my Dad’s pressure washer and had a LOT of fun. Allow the patio to dry, but repeat the cleaning step as many times as needed. I ran out of cleaning solution before I could fully cover the patio a second time, so I would recommend getting more cleaner than you think you’ll need (the bottle says up to 300 sq. ft, but my patio is only 80, and it didn’t fully cover it a second time). You’ll want the surface to be as clean as possible to get the product to stick.

Fill in any cracks or gaps that are larger than 1/4″ and let dry. Allow the surface to dry for at least 24 hours before moving on to painting.

Weather

One caveat that I ran into when doing this project: between needing the surface to be dry before cleaning, to allow proper dry time before painting, and enough cure time afterward, you need a minimum of four dry days in a row to complete this project. Sure,  you could do the cleaning part and then a small gap in the middle for paint if the surface can stay clean, but it likely means prepping the surface again, which means more dry time. Originally, I was hoping to do this project at the beginning of October, but the forecast predicted rain every few days all month. I was happy for rain, but I found the holding pattern a little frustrating, especially since the weather was going to cool down soon. This product is also sensitive to temperature (it needs to stay under 90 and above 50 degrees during application), so my overall recommendation is to do this project in the late spring or early summer when the weather tends to be drier and warmer.

Application

To begin painting, take your brush and work the paint along all of the edges of your patio. If you run into a small imperfection or crack, use a short dabbing stroke to work the paint in, then brush over to smooth things out.

The paint pretty much goes on like any other; it’s just a lot thicker and a little grainy (the texture in the paint supposedly helps the surface from becoming slippery underfoot). If you have to wait a few days from a rain delay like I did, take the paint back to the store to have it shaken up again (the texture will settle and it’s hard to stir). As you apply the paint, be sure to keep any debris off (the surrounding pine trees that blanket my yard kept trying to sabotage my progress).

saboteur tree bark

Because of the stippling to fill in small holes and such, I wouldn’t necessarily call this project quick (I lost track of time, but it was easily an hour or two with the stippling and back brushing), but the extension pole helps things go a LOT faster once things are filled in.

As always, the project supervisor watched, but did not attempt to help.

Important: for waterproofing reasons, make sure you do two coats (it helps prevent water from getting underneath and causing peeling). After the first one goes down, you can recoat in 6 hours. Mine looked pretty great after one, so I was tempted to call it a day, but after applying the second, I could see how the next coat filled in areas that the first did not.

Allow the final coat to dry for at least 48 hours before foot traffic, and 72 hours before putting furniture or potted plants back on it. I found that it dried much faster than this, but I’m staying off of it until the required days are over, save for the occasional sweep to keep pine straw from making themselves at home.

Before & After

Now is the fun part. Before: grimy, algae-covered, mess of a patio. And after: no more grime!

patio before and after

Cost:

(Olympic provided me with the deck cleaner and resurfacer products for this project, but I still wanted to do the math in case you decide to purchase it yourself.)

  • Deck cleaner – $7.98
  • Rescue It! Resurfacer – 49.99 ($99.98 for the 3-gallon container I had, but I still have about half left over to paint the front slab)
  • Pump sprayer: $14.97
  • 1/2″ nap roller: $3.98
  • 3″ nylon brush: $3.98
  • All other materials: already owned (renting a power washer will likely set you back in the $50-75 range to rent for a day)
  • TOTAL COST (w/o tax) : $80.90

Oh, and one more great big pro: I’m posting a giveaway tomorrow morning for you to win your own #PrepMatters kit! This will include both the cleaner, the paint, and at $25 gift card to purchase your other supplies. So be sure to come back in the morning to check it out (or if you’re reading this at work on Friday morning, go ahead and check to see if there’s a new post up for the giveaway already launched!).

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