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"All Cracked Up" - How to skim coat the floor in Lakeworth, TX

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We were asked to swing by to this Lakeworth, TX home to take a look at his pool deck. It had "cool deck" on it that was still holding on tightly but had faded and cracked. We had a couple of options—tear it out and start from scratch or go over it with our concrete resurfacing material that we call a skim coat. When you skim coat the floor it hides these imperfections, but whether or not this is the way to go depends on what we are starting with.

Basically, as it was still sound, we went with the skim coat the floor option with no tearout. Yes, there is a risk associated with this; we are only as good as what we are going over, so if the original "cool deck" were to peel up, then our skim coat will do so also. Now, also keep in mind that as it has been down for a good many years and hasn't come up by now, it's probably not going anywhere.

We had two other issues to deal with when deciding if the way to go was to skim coat the floor. First was the fact that part of the floor had an exposed aggregate finish, and second, there were quite a few visible cracks running all over the place. An exposed aggregate floor is one where there are small stones sticking out of the concrete. When we skim coat the floor, we bury these stones under a thin layer of new concrete, but if they are really pronounced, i.e., they stick out a lot, you may still see a light texture in the floor. If this is objectionable, then we need to go with another process that puts down a thicker layer to cover it up better.

Our second issue is the cracks, and whether this really is a problem depends on your expectations. Whenever we encounter cracks, we use a special epoxy to fill them in. This helps stabilize the cracks, but it doesn't mean that they may not come back. Concrete is always moving, expanding, or contracting depending on the season, which can reopen the cracks. Even if they don't reopen, when you put down a thin coating of concrete over a crack, sometimes a silhouette of the crack can show through.

If there are few cracks, then not to worry; it probably won't be an issue. If there are a lot of cracks, then the best way to deal with them is to incorporate them into a random stone pattern that we score (cut) into the floor. That way, if they do reappear they will be hidden in the cut part of the floor. That's exactly what we did here—skim coat the floor, score it, stain it, then seal it. It came out great!

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