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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:

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

get started

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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31 Comments

  1. Great timing and excellent work on the patio. I have been looking at this product and was planning to do my deck and all the concrete around my house in the spring. Thanks for the great step by step photos.

  2. Great home design idea. Love the renewed colouring. Patio at home is already covered with snow, but next year I am on it!

  3. I’m a little on the fence with this and any concrete stain (with the exception of acid stain) or concrete paint. I have had no luck in the past staining or painting concrete. I hope this product does not start peeling away after a few weeks. For that reason I will wait till spring and look for reviews on how this product worked. I do have high hopes!

    1. I totally get you on that, and it’s precisely why I want to do a re-review after a little while. I hope it doesn’t, but good or bad, it will be up on the blog after I’ve had a chance to assess how it does through the winter (I may even do a second next fall, since our summers are so hot down here too).

  4. Wow, I’m impressed!! I will say I’m amazed at how well that cleaner worked. Ha, and the supervising dog was very cute and funny:).

  5. I had no idea it would be this affordable to transform my patio – yours looks fantastic. Mine is an awful green and brown color that is so embarrassing. I would like to borrow the supervising dog when I do the job :)

  6. Wonderful patio makeover! I cannot believe that deep cleaner really works – must try on our atrium.

  7. My husband and I are renovating our 1970’s home into a stylish home as well. Now that spring is finally here our yard work and such has begun. Our patio is a big to do this year as it has definitely seen better days. So before we dive into painting ours (by your photos I’d say it’s 5x larger than yours) I was wondering how your patio held up over the winter. I’d love to give ours a face lift but not if it isn’t gojng to hold.

    1. It’s actually held up pretty well. No chips or peeling yet. But since I’ve been somewhat sluggish on the back yard planting game, I’ve yet to take new pictures. So far, so good! I’ll add a review to my to-do list this coming month and another one after the heat of the summer dies down, just to see if the hot weather and humidity cause any peeling as well.

  8. Looks awesome Sarah! Seriously, what a transformation. Have you thought about using concrete sealant to further prevent any corrosion or deterioration?

    1. The product itself gave no indication that it should be sealed (in fact, I’m hesitant to apply sealers when the product was this thick to begin with). I’ll do a new update on the patio soon, but it’s holding up well!

      1. In that case, I would wait it out a little while to see how it holds up. Looks like you did an awesome job! If we start to get a lot of ice or snow here in Atlanta this winter, I would put on a light layer of sealant to prevent cracks and other deterioration.

        Can’t wait to see the updates on how everything is holding up and what other exciting fixes you make!

        1. Not sure if you saw the post date on this project, but this was done last fall; so it’s already been through one winter. To truly test a product that promises long-term results like this paint did, I felt it was important not to add any additional products that might compromise the test (and I remove any product mentions when it appears to be a promotional comment, just FYI). I probably won’t be sealing it since like I said, it’s been holding up really well through last winter and the summer heat! I’m going to take new photos after I scrub it down again, so that should be a new post soon.

          1. Sounds good! Can’t wait to see the new post!

            And my apologies if I came off as trying to tell you how to do your job. I love your blog and can tell you know what you are doing! I look forward to following more of you projects!

          2. I didn’t take it that way at all! I love and welcome input from readers… especially since most of the time that I’m sharing these projects, it’s usually something I’ve never tried before. So all of us can learn from someone else’s experience!

  9. A really great idea, making such a small change makes a massive difference you would think it was new!

  10. Living in the Southwest means there’s a lot of concrete destruction, getting dirty, etc… But I can’t agree more that it’s not just about power washing and repainting. Especially after a summer in the sun and a few monsoons, your concrete is bound to get destroyed. I recommend investing in a good sealer, or some kind of varnish-y type to really make it permanent. Then you can just wash it with just a hose!

  11. Be sure to paint the side edges as well as the top. That seals water from soaking in there and looks better too.

  12. How did it hold up after a second winter? I am thinking of using this or a similar product under my deck to dress up an old concrete slab.

    1. So far, it’s taken a beating and held up very well. There was some staining in one spot (I think due to a rusty tool or pine straw) but there is no peeling or anything that I can see.

  13. I am considering using this around my pool but, normally, painting concrete makes it hotter. My concrete finish would be called cool-Crete because it has pits in it to make it cooler. What can you tell about how hot it is with the paint finish? Thanks.

    1. To be honest, my back patio gets partial shade and dappled light from trees, so my conditions wouldn’t be the same as yours… but I haven’t found that the slab is any warmer than it was before. I would highly recommend reading other reviews of the product in your case! And I know that The DIY Village (friends of mine, so tell ’em I sent you if you comment!) also did a review of the same product, but on their wood deck instead of a patio… they might be able to tell you about how sun impacts the warmth underfoot. Their post is here!

  14. Hi Sarah
    Just wondering how the “Resurface it” product is holding up…. now 2 winters gone bye. I live way up north of Minnidosa lots of snow , then summers hot…. I always find I have to re-do any concrete paint I do just like the deck! What a pain!

    1. Hi Lori! It’s been holding up really well! I’m actually about to do another upgrade project (using paver stones) just because I’m planning on doing a bunch of other upgrades outside, but the product itself isn’t showing any peels or chips so far. With the high temps of Georgia summers, I can say that it works well for heat, but we don’t get a lot of snow, so I would recommend reading a few more reviews too. Good luck on your project though!

  15. Hi Sarah! My driveway/patio (driveway extends all the way to the back of the house) is all asphalt; any tips on making asphalt prettier?

  16. Sarah, We are considering Rescue It! for a similar project. How does your patio look now after 4 years? Any pictures? Thank you.

    1. Great timing! I just recently scrubbed & power washed it again for a new project. For the most part, it’s held REALLY well, all things considered. Almost all of it looks the same as it did when it first went on. The edge along one side has some chipping. It took a VERY intense power wash in order to chip away — so while it’s not perfect, you do have to consider that it’s still just paint, and for it to stay that intact for 4 years with total neglect from me is pretty impressive. I will have new photos once I have that new project ready to share (the deck and shed I’m currently working on have my attention first though). I think if you did proper upkeep and touched up paint like you would with any other outdoor paint/stain project, it could stay looking pristine for a nice long while.

  17. Hello, just curious about how plant/grass friendly all this stuff is. It looks like you were cleaning out a bunch of stuff at the time so maybe it didn’t matter much at the time for you? We’ve had a difficult time getting our grass looking nice, although it was fun figuring out what shapes the dead patches looked like (my favorite being a butterfly shape), and I don’t want to spray the cleaners into the grass to find out it’s terrible for it. Thanks for answering those follow up questions too, I was wondering how it was holding up.

    1. If you check out my deck project, you will see the paint is still holding really strong! I had mostly weeds around the patio at the time I used the cleaner, and my hydrangeas and other surrounding plants are pretty hardy. So, as much as I wish I had a solid answer for you, I really don’t. Grass varieties tend to have different sensitivities too, and I use the drought-tolerant stuff that’s good for GA sun. Great question though.