How to skim coat concrete

Give new life to concrete that is cracked, pitted, uneven, or just needs sprucing up. Applying a skim coat to obtain a smooth surface can be left natural or coloured with stain especially made for concrete. Go one step further and create the look of stone or brick, at the fraction of the cost, whether it's a sidewalk, front porch or patio.

Prepare the surface by removing any dried paint or residue. Use a pressure washer for a thorough cleaning. Protect all edges of the house and doorjambs with wide painter's tape.

Pour muriatic acid and carefully sweep with a wide broom to cover the entire surface. This etches, exfoliates and opens up the pores of the concrete. Muriatic acid is caustic, so use gloves and a mask for protection.

Neutralise with eight parts water to one cup of ammonia after the entire surface has been etched with the muriatic acid. Rinse once more with the pressure washer to remove all residue. The next step should be worked on the wet concrete.

Prepare the thin-set mixture and spread evenly onto the wet concrete, using a long-handled squeegee. The thin-set product is a high polymer modified cement that will produce a smooth coat that is ready for further applications.

Use decorative stamps purchased at building supply stores, such as a stone or brick pattern, before allowing the concrete to dry completely. If you choose to only stain the surface, allow the surface to dry completely for a few days.

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