Can You Tile Over Cracked Concrete Patio?

Concrete patios are a common occurrence among many homeowners. The choice of concrete as a primary construction material carries several benefits and downsides. But, cracked concrete is not only unappealing, hazardous, it can also affect the structural integrity of your patio. Repair it as soon as it happens, but can you tile over the cracked patio?

If you notice cracks on your concrete, it’s best to deal with the issue immediately.

Can you tile over a cracked concrete patio?

You can tile over a cracked concrete patio. Concrete is a tough, brittle product that provides a firm surface for most floor types. Most homeowners consider using concrete as a cheaper option than other patio construction materials. The average cost of concrete is about $10 per square foot on average.

A significant downside to using concrete relates to occasional cracks and chips that can affect the quality of your outdoor space. Specialists suggest that a primary reason why your concrete could be cracking is structural issues.

Shrinkage, rough handling, and uneven surfaces are the leading causes of cracking. Concrete shrinks as it dries, and water evaporation can cause your slab to reduce by 50mm every 100 ft. Excessive use of water (while making the concrete) reduces the strength of the material and leaves it vulnerable to cracks.

Always buy concrete from a recognized dealer to avoid low-quality products that can cause you problems in the future.

How to Install Tile Over Cracked Concrete on Patio?

Concrete blocks have a long lifespan (30-50 years), making them a desirable choice for your patio. Using concrete also limits the growth of weeds and other unwanted vegetation that can affect the aesthetics of your outdoor space.

Cracks in concrete remain a cause of concern. Concrete cracks occasionally happen on freshly poured material as it shrinks. The fractures will slowly fade and become nearly nonexistent with time. However, the gaps may not entirely close up, so your patio may suffer from problems as they expand.

You can opt for several strategies when dealing with such incidents. One of the better suggestions involves laying tiles over your cracked concrete blocks.

Here’s how to correctly lay tiles over a cracked concrete patio

1. Clean the concrete

Cracks in concrete can be hazardous for unsuspecting people who may occasionally trip over the uneven surface. It’s crucial to fix cracks in concrete quickly to safeguard against injuries and other negative repercussions.

Always make sure that your concrete surface is clean before attempting to fix the affected area. Cleaning a concrete surface is quick, straightforward work that requires little specialized knowledge.  Besides, it helps to rid the surface of debris that could affect the quality of your work.

You can use a stiff bristle broom/ wire brush to dislodge any loose particles from the concrete. Make a level platform on the surface plane by chipping the loosened sections off with a hammer and chisel (about 1 inch).

Remember to wear protective attire – gloves, a dustcoat, eye goggles, and a nose mask to reduce the risk of injury as you work.

2. Repair damaged concrete patio

You can readily repair damaged concrete surfaces at your home without the need for expert intervention.

Minor concrete cracks can cost up to $5 to $9 per square foot to repair (although the cost varies from location and product preferences). Wider gaps can cost significantly more to repair thoroughly.

Mud jacking is a popular method of dealing with large dips/cracks on concrete blocks. The practice involves strategically digging holes around the affected surface and pumping the slurry mixture down the gaps at high pressure. Such cases might require specialized attention (adding to the overall repair cost).

Small and medium cracks are easy to fix. Once you’ve got a clean concrete surface, you can apply a binding chemical product to fill the gap. Epoxy and latex are popular materials in making concrete patching products. There are different types of products, and it’s always better to check on the manufacturer’s specifications on individual items.

Seal narrow cracks by filling the affected surfaces with an ideal binding product and use a putty knife to level and smoothen out the patch. You can also choose a mortar mix to repair medium cracks on your surface.

Prepare the mortar by mixing cement to sand in the ratio of 1:6 (the proportion varies depending on intended use). Use a trowel (or another suitable tool) to fill the crack before you level and smoothen the material. Mortar might take some attention and may take time to dry. Remember to keep the cement moist during curing.

3. Prepare the concrete

Concrete preparation is essential when laying tile over a concrete floor. Having poor prepping can affect the tiling process, cause damage to your tiles and affect the overall finish of your work.

Make sure your concrete surface is free of debris, cracks, and other debris before proceeding to prep your concrete surface. For best results, it is advisable to use an uncoupling membrane to protect against moisture damage and shrinkage over time. The membrane costs about $1.35 to $2.15 per square foot but provides reliable service for an extensive period.

Always ensure you have a level surface before installing tiles on your concrete floor. Prepare uneven patches with a suitable primer, mortar (or a concrete grinder) for broader and more distinct bumps/dips.

You can use a medium-sized beam (6ft-8ft) to check for any uneven areas on your concrete. Spread the beam across the floor, measure, and mark any gaps on the surface. Repeat the procedure on other sections, fix and inspect.

 Following confirmation that your surface is level, you can start working on installing tiles.

4. Lay tiles over concrete

You can lay tiles directly over concrete, use an uncoupling membrane or a cement board. However, choosing the best approach primarily depends on individual preference, type of tile, and floor in use.

People often favor ceramic tiles because of their durability, ease of installation, and wide range of options to choose the right tile. Besides, ceramic tiles are well-suited for outdoor spaces and patios.  A notable downside of ceramic tiles relates to cracking, breaking, or chipping when installed or handled without care.

It’s always advisable to hire a technician to cut and lay tiles over a large surface, but if you are looking to save costs (or trust your abilities), you can handle the installation yourself.

Start by measuring and marking your tile lines across the entire surface. Look out for parallel sections where you can lay whole tiles easily. Cover the surface with tiles (you might have to cut certain portions of your tile for a perfect fit).

After ensuring that the tiles are correctly placed, you can begin laying the individual tiles on the concrete. A thin-set mortar is ideal when laying tiles over concrete. Proceed by dealing with individual sections at a time.

 It’s a good idea to start with the center tile and work towards the edges. Remember to wear protective attire, use spacers, and gently press on individual tiles during placement.

It’s vital to give your tiles enough time (24 hrs.) to adhere to the concrete after you’re satisfied with laying the tiles. Wipe off excess mortar using water to prevent the product from sticking to your tiles.

Mix the grout with cold water and fill any spaces between tiles using a thin flat-base float. Spread the grout over the tile surface, allow the grout to settle for 20 min before wiping it off with a damp sponge.  Finally, let the grout dry (about 72 hrs.).

You can also add a sealant to keep the grout free from water and dirt.

Other ways to cover cracked concrete patio

You can find alternative techniques to cover a cracked concrete patio. Some alternatives are ideal when fixing minor cracks, while others can cover large surfaces with ease.

Here are other ways that you can cover a cracked concrete patio

  • Use caulk and sealers to cover small to medium-sized cracks.
  • Use polymer resin to cover large surfaces.

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