Over time, concrete steps can become old, dull and boring. If you’re in the mood to make them look new and fun again, here are five concrete step ideas to help you along the way.
1. Paint Your Concrete Steps
If you want an easy and quick solution, use exterior latex house paint. Coat your concrete step with one coat of paint. Allow drying time before walking across it and another 24 hours after for curing time.
Alternatively, add another layer of paint for added durability against foot traffic and other elements like rain and snow. You can opt to add a second coat in another color choice itself–just ensure that the first coat has dried properly before adding more, lest you wind up with a blotchy and unsightly splotched step.
Another way to make your concrete step detail look better is by painting the top of it with spray paint instead of removing and repaving it. Paint the top of your concrete steps and simply apply another coat each year after winter ends.
You could also resurface the top of your concrete steps using acrylic cement finish paint available at your local home improvement center. Choose from several textures and one coat finishes–such as hammered metal, cracked ice, or shingle–to resurface your step and make it look brand-new again.
Or, if you’re creating new steps, you can mix a few ounces of latex house paint into the concrete mix after you’ve poured it into your form and before you use a wood float to smooth out the top. Allow for proper drying time, then apply another coat using only water. The added moisture improves the adhesion process, which helps keep your painted concrete step looking fresh longer – but be careful not to over-apply or saturate your mixture too much since it will weaken the foundation.
2. Change the Color of Your Concrete Steps
You can also change the color of your concrete steps to make them look new again. To accomplish this, you will need a contractor with knowledge on grinding down the top of your concrete step.
Then, purchase a pre-mixed bag of colored cement from a hardware store. Mix it with water at the ratio prescribed on the package and pour it into an empty bucket. Use a wood float or trowel to apply one thin coat over the top of your existing concrete step. Allow for proper drying time before walking across it and another 24 hours after for curing time.
In addition, you could change the color of your concrete step with a colored penetrating sealer. While this is not an extreme measure, some might say that it is less than permanent than using any of the first two methods. It helps protect your step from scuff marks and stains caused by everyday use. Use a paint brush or roller on top of one thin coat over the top of the existing step and allow for proper drying time before walking on it again (after 24 hours).
Always be sure you purchase a sealer meant to be used on concrete. Some sealers are made for other surfaces, such as wood or asphalt, and will not work effectively to protect your steps.
3. Use Paving Stones or Tiles
Cover up worn concrete step areas with paving stones or tiles available in most home improvement centers. Use adhesive to adhere them in place and create a decorative mosaic or outline an area with stones that create a border. You can also use small mosaic tiles or stones to make a pretty pattern over the entire step instead of adhering it down.
You could also use a stencil and paint the concrete steps with it. This is especially useful if you’re going for a certain design or pattern. First, use adhesive to attach the stones or tiles in place, and then paint over them using the color choices you chose.
4. Texturize Them
Distress the concrete by hitting it with a sledgehammer first on one side, then on the other to create an aged look that’s popular on outdoor patios. Use a roller to go over the surface after applying concrete texturing powder. The texturizing powder will get into the crevices created by the hammering and give it a rougher, more interesting appearance. The finish looks like terrazzo but can be done at home effortlessly.
You could also texturize your concrete steps using a texturized paint roller. Use an acid solution to help etch the surface so the concrete will accept the color better.
Create a “crackle” effect design with paint by mixing baking soda into your paint with masking tape. Once it all dries, use a heat gun to crack the paint and peel it off.
Alternatively, you could try making your steps look like stone. Mix in pebbles or rocks into your concrete mix while it is still wet so that they become embedded in the surface of the concrete. You can get more creative by embedding different gravel colors for contrast.
5. Highlight Them
Put down wet, dark-colored concrete and let it dry completely overnight. Use a blow torch to pass over the surface quickly in one direction until you get that lava rock look of glowing reds and oranges, then cover with sealer immediately afterward to avoid streaks. If this seems like too much of a commitment for your budget or timeframe, brush on some metallic glaze over light-colored dried concrete to give it more sheen.
If you need help with your concrete step details, contact Ray Arnold Masonry today for all your masonry needs.