Resurfacing Concrete: Porch Makeover

Update: May 2014. Many of you have sent me emails asking how the porch is holding up.  Great News!  There have been no issues so far. We've had no peeling, no flaking and nothing to speak of that would deter me from this product.  

 This past Spring Hubs and I had a project list that included sprucing up our front yard.  That list included installing a new fence and updating our front porch.  We had high hopes for this porch and started to get it into pretty good shape by cleaning it, painting the shutters and we even bought two new rockers thinking that would cozy it up.  It wasn't bad.  It looked pretty good with some hanging flowers and a new door wreath.  Well, the flowers died because someone (me) didn't water them and Hubs kept saying we have to do something about the concrete.  It was cracked, chipped and plain old dirty looking.
We did get an estimate to have it professionally resurfaced.  While the price was high, what I really didn't like about it was it was going to look like faux stone.  Not the look I was going after.
I scoured the internet for months and didn't really find anything that was DIY that I was interested in.  However, I kept coming back to this product called Restore.  The problem was there wasn't all that much information available on it.  Being apprehensive about it, Hubs and I carried on doing other projects over the summer like sealing our fence and didn't think about the porch all that much.
I'm giddy to tell you that we ended up buying the Restore product at Lowe's one night on a total whim and couldn't be happier with the results.  We figured the concrete porch couldn't look any worse. The product is well priced at about $25 a gallon.
The product is real thick, not at all like paint.  Don't think it will roll on, brush on or apply like paint, because it doesn't.  It doesn't cure like paint either.  Here's what we learned.
Buy more than you think.  I figured this porch would take 2 gallons and I'd call it a day.  I figured I'd slap on one coat in the AM and the last coat few hours later.  Here's what happened to us.

It was a warm Fall day.  Full sun about 65 degrees out.  I cut in with the brush as per the directions and this video.  I covered all cracks and gaps as directed.  You are supposed to use this special roller, which I bought, to apply the product on the surface.  I didn't know what I was doing and ignored the fact that you need to apply it in one direction and DO NOT ROLL back and forth like you normally would with paint.

Lesson learned.  Read the can.  Call the Customer Service Number.  They are super duper friendly and answered all my questions the next day when I "freaked out"...more on that later.
What is great about this product is that it really covers and fills in imperfections.  This is the crack and hole shown above that is being filled in with just one coat.
You'll see how the product looks a little spotty.  That's because I was rolling back and forth in ERROR.  At this point though, I thought it looked great and couldn't wait to get the second coat on.
Note that directions are there for a reason.  Follow them.  It said if product is tacky do not apply second coat.  I threw all caution to the wind and applied the second coat, called it a day and went to bed.

The next morning this is what I saw!  ACK what are all those marks?  I threw a fit so annoyed and blamed it all on Hubs.  He took the heat and ignored me.  I stormed around the house and finally called the Customer Service number in my sweetest voice.  Mike from Restore was professional and told me not to worry.  

The problem was a couple of things. 1) The temperature at night was inching close to 50 degrees which is right on the line of no good for this product 2) I didn't wait long enough for the second coat to dry 3) I should not have rolled back and forth 4) He recommends always adding 1 cup of water to 1 gallon to the product isn't so thick

Ok Mr. Mike, now what? Am I totally hosed now?  He told me no worries and to apply one more coat with the water trick, but to let what I already had applied set up a few more days.  Alrighty.  I'll give it a shot.
On the next sunny, warm day with no rain in the forecast, Hubs and I jumped all over this.  I have to tell you that I ended up hand brushing the last coat on.  I think because I messed up the first coat with my roller error, it just wasn't working for me to use the roller.  It took me four back breaking hours, but I jumped up and down with pure joy when it was done.  I'll let the next few photos speak for themselves!

The most amazing part was updating the steps.  We were going to jackhammer these out!  I used the Restore Caulk to fill in the large crack right above the step.  Then I hand brushed the steps.

Hello?! Is that the same step?  I still can't believe it.

After a about a week of letting the porch cure, we put the rockers back and I shuffled off to the store buy some things to pretty it all up.  The doormat was reused and is from Pier One.  I sprayed the metal kick plate and door handle Oil Rubbed Bronze. They were both icky brass before.
I sprayed the wood ring with a fresh coat of black paint and Hubs stacked wood ready for the Winter season.  The front door got a coat of fresh paint, Cottage Red.  Color is by Benjamin Moore but I had it color matched at Lowe's in their Valspar Duramax paint. It went on like butter.
The posts all received a fresh coat of paint in White by Valspar Duramax Exterior.  This stuff is thick and I'm now completely sold on the Valspar paint.  It has awesome coverage.
The mums were from my local farmer's market and the galvanized buckets are from the paint section in Lowe's.
We ended up getting 8 gallons of the Restore, but could have gotten away with 5 if I would have followed the directions.  That would have given two coats to the porch and 2 coats to the step and stoop.
The color I used was Fieldstone.  They mix it up for you in Lowe's and give the cans a real good shake in the shaker machine.
Remember to add the one cup of water and do try the special roller.  I'm sure you'll have better luck with it, if you follow the directions :)  As for my method of hand brushing.  I used a wide angled brush, loaded it with Restore and brushed it on in 3x3 sections.  I back brushed to smooth it out a little in the opposite direction.  I really had no idea what I was doing, but it turned out better than I had hoped.  Freak out session aside, I am so glad we tried this product.  We plan on seeing how it holds up over the Winter and then may coat the front walkway.  Right now that got a power washing and will have to wait 'til Spring.
So tell me if you end up using Restore!
P.S. I've linked up to Tatertots & Jello  Sugar and Dots Home Stories A to Z


Sealing a Cedar Fence

This spring we spent some dough ($) on getting a new cedar fence installed.  It turned out better than I could have hoped, but I knew we'd have to baby it if we wanted it to last.  Hubs did a lot of research and decided that we were going to seal it.  We tried a couple of stains.  One was by Behr, which was a little chalky for my liking. We settled in on Cabot's Australian Timber Oil in Natural.

The thought of spending the better part of my weekend sealing a fence just wasn't on my top to do list for the summer.  I'd  been dreading this project for months.  Hubs has been non stop talking about getting it done and I just didn't want any part of it.  The summer was hot and humid and who wants to spend an afternoon meticulously applying fence sealer?  I'd rather be at the beach!
Well, we got it done and who do you think grabbed the paint brush and said "LET ME DO IT" in the type A personality way?  Yeah.  Yeah.  I ended up getting it done.

Hubs power washed the fence a few weeks prior to us applying the sealer and used a solution of TSP and industrial bleach, both found at Home Depot.  He applied the solution with a back-pack weed sprayer, let it sit, scrubbed any really moldy spots and rinsed with the power washer.

The fence is supposed to dry real good for about 3 days.  But hello, we had so much rain, it was hard to find the perfect day to apply the sealer.
During our stay-cation late summer, we had a window of opportunity, whether I was happy about it or not.  Hubs had some high hopes of using the back-pack sprayer to apply the sealer and then back brush/roll it on.  Fail.  I hated the sprayer.  It wasn't even and it was very splotchy.  I ended up muscling in and applying the sealer with the roller and brush. 4 hours later.  The side yard fencing was covered and it's beautiful.

We completing sealing the fence over two weekends.  We tackled the left side yard first since it's the least seen from the road and figured we'd learn a few things along the way.

Here's what we learned.

  • Cleaning the fence is a must.  
  • Before you apply the sealer, go back and wipe any loose dirt, like bird poop, that may have appeared.
  • Wear gloves and keep your skin covered because the overspray doesn't easily come off (even though it says soap and water clean up).
  • Use large lambskin roller for large areas and smaller paint roller for smaller areas.  The rails and nooks need a brush.  Back brush everything.
  • The front of the fence gets done a whole lot faster since there are no rails!
Here's the products we used.
  • Cabot Australian Timber Oil in Natural.  Our fence was Grade 1 Cedar.
  • TSP found in Home Depot paint aisle for cleaning.
  • Industrial Bleach by Clorox found in Home Depot cleaning supply aisle.
  • Lambskin roller by Wooster found in Lowes.
  • Smaller roller (had on hand for interior walls)
  • Purdy Brush