Uneven sidewalks don’t just look bad – they’re a huge liability. And in many cities and municipalities, even the public sidewalks are the home or business owners’ responsibility to maintain.
Fortunately, there are several ways to go about fixing an uneven sidewalk. And after over 30 years in the concrete repair and maintenance industry here at A-1 Concrete Leveling, we’ve seen it all.
In this guide, we'll explore four methods for repairing uneven sidewalks, so you can ensure safe and even concrete for your guests and neighbors.
Concrete grinding is a cost-effective solution for uneven sidewalks. By shaving down the lifted portion of the slabs and evening out the trip hazards, it’s safer to walk on.
This method is better for minor unevenness, usually less than 1.5 inches in difference. It’s also best for areas where aesthetics aren't a primary concern, as the finished layer of the concrete gets ground down and usually leaves the slab looking patchy.
While concrete grinding is cost-effective and relatively easy to do, it does come with some risks that are worth taking into consideration, like:
- Slab becomes thinner and weaker
- More prone to cracking and freeze-thaw damage
To level concrete, expert technicians drill strategic holes in the affected slabs, then they pump a leveling compound into the voids under the sunken concrete. The pressure from this compound causes the slabs to rise.
But there are three different types of concrete leveling to be aware of when thinking about how to fix uneven sidewalks:
Stone Slurry Grout Leveling
Stone slurry grout concrete leveling works to lift settled slabs by filling the voids underneath with a mixture of pulverized agricultural limestone and water. The thickness of the mixture can be adjusted to better control the void filling and lifting process.
Polyjacking (Foam Concrete Leveling)
Polyjacking, also known as “foam concrete leveling,” utilizes expanding polyurethane foam injected beneath the sunken slabs. This foam expands to fill voids, lifting the concrete back to its original position.
Mudjacking is commonly used as an umbrella term to mean “concrete leveling” in general, but it’s actually just one way to go about lifting concrete. It’s done by injecting a mix of sand, soil, water, and occasionally cement underneath the slab.
Adding extra concrete or patching compound to your sidewalk can be cost-effective and relatively quick to do. There are many different YouTube videos and DIY tutorials out there, and you can likely tackle small trip hazards in a few hours.
The downside to this method is that it is usually temporary. It’s very hard for the new compound or concrete to completely bond with the existing slab, which means it will eventually chip and crack off with the natural expansion and contraction of the concrete.
Concrete replacement is usually the most expensive and time-consuming fix for uneven sidewalks, but there are some cases where it makes sense:
- The slabs are incredibly cracked or crumbling
- You want to change the shape or functionality (e.g. add a ramp)
- Tree roots are lifting the slabs too far out of place
Concrete replacement also comes with risks beyond the high cost and time commitment. Bad batches of concrete, cracking, and torn-up lawns and landscaping are just a few of those risks.
Following these tips can help make sure your sidewalk doesn’t become uneven again:
Use flexible concrete caulk for cracks
Sealing up cracks and joints with a flexible concrete caulk helps prevent water from flowing under the sidewalk and causing settling and damage due to freeze-thaw cycles.
Eliminate any sources of erosion
Water flow from downspouts, leaky gutters, and poor drainage (and burrowing pests, too) can erode away the soil supporting your sidewalk, causing it to settle and become uneven.
Concrete grinding or adding extra concrete can be done as DIY projects in some cases, but in general, it’s better to leave replacement and leveling up to the professionals.
Although the leveling and replacement processes can be done on your own, they require a lot of skill and specialized tools to get right.
Here at A-1 Concrete Leveling, we specialize in stone slurry grout and foam concrete leveling, along with other concrete care services. If you’d like to learn how these services can help with your uneven sidewalk, click the link below for a free onsite cost estimate!