Give a Facelift to an Ordinary Concrete Porch
The entrance to your home is very important, because it greets your guests and sets the tone for making them feel welcomed. So you want to do whatever you can to make your entrance as inviting as possible. But what do you do with that plain, boring concrete porch? Well, rather than tearing it out and replacing it with something else, you can simply tile over it and take it from blah to fabulous in just 6 easy steps. Before you begin, be sure you have selected a tile that is appropriate for the variety of weather it will be exposed to. Look for a tile that is marked as appropriate for outdoor use. Once you have purchased your tile, then you can begin.
Step One– Clean and Prep the surface of the existing concrete.
Clean the surface of the concrete with warm water and TSP (Trisodium Phosphate). Be sure to use a stiff brush to really scrub in the cleaning solution. Once you have scrubbed the surface, rinse well with warm water. It your concrete was sealed when it was installed or at some later date, then you will have to grind the surface down with a scarifying machine. If the concrete has been sealed and you skip this step, the thin-set will not bond with the concrete.
Step Two – Repair any damage to concrete.
If there are any cracks that go all the way through the existing concrete, they must be repaired before you continue. Simply lay a cut to size piece of crack isolation membrane over the crack. Once done, trowel thin-set on to both the tread and the riser. Now place the membrane over the crack and press into place. Smooth everything out using the trowel.
Step Three – Dry-lay the tile.
Lay out all of your tiles without any thin-set (dry-lay). Now you will be able to determine which tiles will need to be cut to fit the surface of your porch and steps. Keep all of the tile nearby and in stacks that correlate with the rows that you will be placing them to make it quicker and easier to work once you get started on the final placement.
Step Four – Lay the tile with Thin-set
Before you begin, you will need to mix the thin-set mortar according to the directions provided. Using the flat, broad side of the trowel to apply the thin-set smoothly. Once the thin-set is down, use the comb edge of the trowel to create grooves in the surface of the thin-set, this ensures a tight connection to the concrete slab. Gently set and slide your tiles into place using spacers to ensure consistent spaces between the tiles. When you are ready to tile the steps, always start with the risers. The thin-set mortar will need to cure overnight before you can add grout.
Step Five – Adding the Grout
Before you mix the grout, first remove all the spacers and any excess mortar that is sticking up between the tiles. To remove the excess mortar use a utility knife. Now you are ready to mix the grout following the manufacturer’s directions. Mix only one bag at a time to ensure that color and density is as consistent as possible. Pour approximately a third of your mixture in the surface of the tiles, starting in a corner and working your way out. When you are tiling a large area it is best to tile, grout and sponge in smaller sections. Using a hard rubber float, be sure to pack the joints, pulling the float in a diagonal pattern across the tile surface. Once a section of tile is fully grouted, clean off the excess grout by using a large damp sponge. You will pull the sponge in the same diagonal pattern you used to apply the grout. Rinse the sponge repeatedly throughout this process.
Step Six – Apply exterior sealing caulk
After about two weeks the grout should be fully cured. Now you can apply high quality grout sealer to protect your grout from future cracking and chipping by making the grout moisture resistant. Lastly, apply an exterior sealing caulk around the edges of the porch where it meets the house to keep water from seeping into places you don’t want it.
If this sounds too time consuming and like a bigger project than you want to take on, don’t worry, Andy OnCall® will happily and expertly take care of everything!