It's the Pits: Sidewalk Fixes for Spring

(Family Features) - Bitter cold ice and snow can really do a number on sidewalks. Unfortunately, what starts as an unsightly chip or pit can quickly become a substantial crack and even weaken the overall concrete structure. Come warmer weather, walkway repairs are a must.

Climate is an important factor for concrete work. The best environment is dry, with temperatures above 50 degrees, but not warmer than 80 degrees. Remember that you'll need this weather to hold for a day or two to give your project plenty of time to cure.

Before you begin, take stock to ensure that your sidewalk damage is truly patchable. If the surface is heavily pocked, structural damage is likely, and this means you will be making repairs again soon.

However, small, localized pits can generally be patched using a small amount of latex cement, rather than tearing out and re-pouring an entire slab of concrete.

For most small pits, preparation is as simple as thoroughly cleaning the hole to rid it of dirt and debris. This can be easily accomplished with a few strokes of a wire brush and a rinse with the hose, or suction with a utility vacuum.

Larger pits may need to be carefully chiseled to remove jagged, loose pieces and create a uniform surface for filling.

Once the hole is prepped and clean, follow the manufacturer's instructions for preparing the latex concrete and apply it to the hole. Fill gradually, and use a trowel to carefully smooth the patch. If your walk is textured, lightly sweep a broom over the smoothed surface to create a similar appearance.

Patches should be allowed to dry and cure for at least 24 hours before use.

It's important to recognize that color matching for concrete patchwork is extremely difficult. Patches will likely always be at least somewhat visible. One solution is to stain the entire surface, which also creates an attractive new landscaping element.