Uneven concrete slabs are a real headache for homeowners everywhere. Whether it’s a driveway, sidewalk or anything in between, the settling concrete can cause problems ranging from simply an unsightly appearance all the way to liability concerns in the form of dangerous trip hazards.
Fortunately, if you find yourself with uneven concrete around your home, you have various options to repair it.
Here at A-1 Concrete Leveling, we’ve been in the business of lifting and repairing settled concrete for over 30 years, and during this time, we’ve gotten to know the most common and effective ways to fix those uneven concrete slabs.
In this article, we'll explore four techniques for fixing uneven concrete and help you determine which option is best for your home.
If you’re struggling with uneven concrete around your home, your first thought may be to replace it and start fresh.
To do this, concrete contractors will have to demolish the concrete, haul it away, and pour the new slab to be even with the existing concrete. Then, you’ll have to wait around 30 days for the concrete to fully harden.
This is certainly an option and can be effective at eliminating the trip hazards that come along with uneven concrete. It also can leave you with a clean slate to maintain and protect your new concrete properly from the start.
However, it may not look very great aesthetically if you only replace the uneven slab, as it’s very difficult to match concrete colors and textures. Also, pouring new concrete comes with additional risks, like the potential for resettling and property damage due to large, heavy equipment.
Concrete replacement is also a very messy, long, and labor-intensive process, which explains why it is the most expensive option listed here.
Many homeowners affected by uneven concrete don’t even know that there’s a way to lift entire settled or sinking concrete slabs back up to a level position.
This is done with a process called concrete leveling, and it works by drilling small, strategic holes through the affected concrete slabs and pumping a compound beneath the surface. This compound fills any voids under the slab, then gently lifts it back into place, hardens, and becomes a durable new base for the slab to rest on.
There are different types of concrete leveling, but the three most common are polyurethane foam leveling, stone slurry grout leveling, and mudjacking.
Each of these processes comes with its own unique advantages and disadvantages, but all three provide the benefits of preserving the concrete you have, providing you with a quick and easy repair, and saving you lots of money when compared to the cost of replacement.
When faced with uneven slabs, you also have the option of grinding them down flush with the neighboring concrete panels.
This can be one of the cheapest and fastest ways to achieve level concrete surfaces, depending on how big the affected area is.
However, this option does come with some downsides, like the fact that shaving down the concrete leaves a splotchy and discolored surface. It also opens up the absorbent pores of the concrete to more damage during freeze-thaw cycles and makes the slab’s structure thinner and weaker.
With this being said, there are cases where concrete grinding is the best option. For example, if you have a tree root under the concrete slab that will continue growing and pushing up on the slab, grinding down the uneven edge is a good alternative to removing the root and replacing the slab.
Grinding can also be ideal if you plan on replacing the concrete in the future and don’t want to invest in a long-lasting repair.
Another way we have seen homeowners fix uneven concrete slabs is by adding additional concrete or specialized overlays onto the uneven surfaces in order to even out the difference.
You can buy concrete patch kits from the hardware store to fill smaller trip hazards and missing pieces of concrete, or you can mix up and apply concrete to create a grade between the high and low points of the uneven slabs.
While this is a way to even out the settling concrete, it’s usually not one that we recommend as anything other than a temporary solution.
Because the new concrete or compound sits on top of the existing concrete, it has a very high likelihood of chipping or cracking off as the existing concrete expands and contracts during freeze-thaw cycles.
And, in most cases, adding additional concrete to uneven slabs doesn’t actually eliminate the trip hazard, and it adds a mismatched area of concrete to the mix.
It’s common to use self-leveling concrete compound on the surface of interior concrete floors in order to remove texture or dips that were created when the concrete was poured. This is a great way to even out the surface in preparation for installing flooring, like hardwood, tile, or vinyl planks.
However, self-leveling concrete should not be used to correct sinking or settling concrete slabs. When applied too thickly, which is usually necessary to “lift” the slab, the compound can end up breaking down over time and leave you back at square one.
The best method for fixing uneven concrete slabs will vary from person to person. For some, the appeal of starting fresh with brand-new concrete sounds great, and to others, the convenience and durability of a concrete leveling repair may seem more enticing.
But now that you’re familiar with your options, it’s important that you weigh each one carefully to decide which one is right for you, because each one comes with its own benefits and drawbacks.
We know you may still have more questions about all the options we mentioned in this article, and that you’re likely not finished with your research just yet.
Here at A-1 Concrete Leveling, we’ve made it our goal to make as much information as possible available on all things concrete so that you can make informed decisions for your home.
For that reason, we’ve created Concrete Academy, an extensive online library of resources dedicated to answering your questions about all things concrete repair and maintenance.
Start with some of these related topics:
- Common Problems That Concrete Leveling Can Solve
- Concrete Repair Options Compared: Leveling, Grinding, Replacement
- How to Maintain Your Concrete
- When Is Concrete Too Far Gone For Concrete Leveling?
Want to see what A-1’s concrete leveling and repair services can do for you? Click the link below to request a free onsite cost estimate!