Have you ever considered pouring concrete over existing brick to renovate the look of your driveway or porch? If so, we bet you want to know if this idea works. We've done the research to bring you the most reliable answer to this question.
You can cement or pour concrete over brick but there are certain things to consider for a successful project.
- You must prepare the brick surface first before pouring concrete.
- Knowing the proper way of mixing concrete is also essential.
- Your job will be easier and less time-consuming when you have the right tools and materials.
It may not be that simple to pour cement over brick if this is your first time doing the job. That's why we suggest that you keep reading to find out all the basics and other helpful information including tricks to make durable concrete.
Can You Cement Or Pour Concrete Over Brick?
If you are just an average DIYer, you would probably think that cement and concrete are the same. But while these terms are often used interchangeably in daily life, concrete and cement are technically two different things.
Cement is a binding material that comes in powder form that is mixed with concrete, mortar, tile grout, etc. to improve structural durability. It would not work to use cement alone on any project.
On the other hand, concrete is a mixture of gravel, sand, and cement. In masonry, this is the most common substance used for flat structural surfaces.
Thus, if you are going to resurface an existing brick pathway or wall, then you would be using concrete, which contains cement. And you would not want to go directly to the steps unless you know the proper way of mixing concrete first. Don't worry, we've got you on this!
Tools for Mixing Concrete
Using several bags of concrete mix will be easier if you have a mixer. You can rent one for around $35 per day. Otherwise, you would have to mix manually by hand. Here are the tools you need to mix concrete:
- mixing pan or wheelbarrow
- large bucket
- stiff brush for cleaning
- Pressurized hose
You will need other tools when you are ready to pour the concrete over the bricks. A leveling tool and a shovel should be available when the pouring process comes. You will also need wood pieces, wire, nails, and a hammer to install a concrete form over the bricks.
How to Pour Concrete Over Brick
Mixing concrete is fairly easy, especially when working with small amounts, but you need to wear protective equipment before you begin. Wear gloves and goggles for your safety.
Here are the steps on how to cover brick with concrete.
1. Prepare the brick surface.
Do not pour concrete over the brick surface until it is clean. Prepare the area by getting rid of the elements that would affect concrete adhesion.
Scrub the bricks to remove moss, slime, and dirt on the surface. Pull out the weeds along the crevices. You may also clean with a pressure washer.
It is a must to clean the surface if you are putting concrete directly over it.
2. Set up the concrete form.
While you would be covering an existing brick surface, you need to install a concrete form. You may use wood scraps and plywood. Remember to adjust the height of the forms accordingly so concrete does not overflow.
Install the form with outside reinforcements if you are pouring thick concrete over a driveway. You may use plywood for smaller projects.
3. Mix the concrete.
Open the bag of concrete mix and pour it into the wheelbarrow or any mixing equipment. Make a hole in the middle using a hoe or shovel. Then, gradually pour water into the hole and mix. It is better to use a bucket than a hose when adding water into the mix for future reference.
Add water as needed. You are aiming for the correct consistency which is neither soupy nor crumby. When the concrete has too much water, it will be easy to spread but it would not be as hard and strong once dry. In contrast, a crumby mixture would not stick together and is difficult to work with.
4. Pour the concrete over the brick surface.
Wet concrete should not wait any longer. Begin the application as soon as the mixture is ready. It can be quite tricky to use concrete in vertical applications if you are a beginner. You will do a lot of covering and patching but it is still possible with a leveling tool.
Moving on, pouring concrete to resurface a brick floor is easier. However, the key to achieving a long-lasting concrete structure is proper installation. While many DIYers simply pour the concrete to cover the bricks and you most definitely can, too, this would probably not work if you are going to resurface the driveway.
The driveway needs to have better support to avoid concrete from premature cracking. The best way is to level the surface first, then use a layer of sand and gravel in between the concrete and brick for better adhesion. Depending on the thickness of the slab, you can install a wire mesh slightly raised above the ground for maximum strength.
5. Level the slab.
Using the leveling tool, spread the concrete to even out the surface. It helps to use strings from end to end to level the concrete when resurfacing a bigger space. Furthermore, don't forget to consider the tilt angle, which should be 1/4 inch per foot for proper drainage.
View this concrete leveling tool kit on Amazon.
How Long Is the Curing Time of Concrete?
Concrete sets within 24 to 48 hours but isn't fully cured until 28 days later. A thicker slab requires more time to cure. And while concrete becomes stronger as days go by, you should note that moisture is an essential factor during the initial curing process. That's why you need to sprinkle water on the slab about 10 times a day during the first week of curing.
Other things also tell how long the full curing process will take. Curing concrete when it is hot and sunny may be faster but can also result in cracking if you don't periodically sprinkle it with water.
On the other hand, concrete takes longer to cure on freezing and wet days. It is also very likely that the slab will be weaker due to the presence of too much moisture.
Things to Know About Concrete
It will be easier to buy bags of concrete mix but it is a must to check the product if it works best for your project. Concrete bags often come in 80-pound and 60-pound packaging. For reference, an 80-pound concrete bag covers a volume of 0.6 cubic feet. That's just 3.6 square feet at a depth of 2 inches.
If you are resurfacing a driveway, your best choice is a crack-resistant concrete mix. For larger projects though, you can use a ready mix concrete. This concrete already contains the essentials which are gravel, sand, and cement.
While all cement and concrete products only need water and follow the same procedure when being mixed, it is worth noting that the amount of water can break or make the durability of concrete.
With too much water then your concrete will be weak when it hardens. If it lacks water, then it will be difficult to work with. You should be careful when adding water to a concrete mix to make a desirable consistency which means a more durable structure.
On the other hand, using an appropriate amount of water on concrete does not always guarantee successful results. You should always use the correct product according to your project and allow concrete to cure properly. See the product label for details and application information.
Can Concrete Burn Your Skin?
Concrete can burn your skin because it contains cement which is caustic. Drying concrete has a pH level between 12 and 13, which is considered corrosive. It can burn the skin and even cause scarring.
Concrete has chemicals that react with water. If it stays on your skin for an extended period, it would use the water on your skin to produce alkaline molecules which could eventually destroy the skin tissue. This is why it is important to wear protective equipment and clean after working with concrete.
Moreover, other structural building materials such as mortar and grout contain cement. They can be as corrosive as concrete and cause burning when gets in contact with skin.
Now you know that it is possible to pour concrete over brick. You only need to use the right concrete product and mix it with just the right amount of water to achieve the ideal consistency. The concrete will last longer and adhere well to the brick surface when installed correctly and allowed to cure cully.
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