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Having Concrete Issues? How to Tell When to Repair Vs. Replace It

Having Concrete Issues - How to Tell When to Repair Vs Replace ItAre you noticing cracks, holes and other signs of aging or damage to your concrete driveway, path, or patio? Weather, time, and other elements can definitely affect the look and performance of concrete features, especially in the winter months. But do you need to just make a few repairs, or would it be wiser to replace the surface with fresh new concrete? How can you tell the difference?

That’s a question we are asked a lot at R&M Concrete. We know homeowners and small business owners in Tulsa care about making sound financial decisions when it comes to caring for their concrete. So, we’ve put together this handy list to help you understand the questions we ask when assessing your concrete, and how to tell whether it’s time to replace concrete or repair concrete.

1. What caused the issue?

Like any other material, concrete wears down over time. So it’s important to ask exactly why the issue you’re having has occurred. If it is simply a result of age, then a replacement may make sense.

Some common concrete issues are mostly cosmetic, such as blistering, which may look a little unattractive but isn’t a signal that the concrete is unsafe. In such cases, you might try small cosmetic repairs first.

On the other hand, if you or your concrete expert notices significant issues like curling (where the edges of the concrete surface are risen or curled), the cause is often an improper installation. When that’s the reason behind your concrete issue, a replacement done properly is often the best course of action for lasting results you can count on.

2. What is your budget?

There are plenty of issues that can make concrete a little unsightly without needing a full replacement, such as:

  • Blistering
  • A few small cracks
  • Minor discolorations

Depending on the location of the concrete surface and your budget, you might opt to leave the surface as is or make minor repairs to improve the aesthetics. If it’s really bothering you, you can always replace the concrete, but it’s often not necessary when the issue is small or isolated to an area that can be easily repaired.

On the other hand, if the problem is significant or sizeable, investing in concrete replacement can be well worth it in the long-run. Correcting structural problems and replacing a severely damaged surface ensures your concrete driveway, walkway, patio or floor is safe to use and ready to last for years with the right maintenance — and that gives you peace of mind too.

3. What is the nature of the issue?

Take a look at the concrete surface and pay attention to all the concerns it is raising for you. Here are some common problems you might notice, and whether it makes sense to do concrete repair or concrete replacement:

Uneven slab

This can happen when the ground shifts due to soil expansion and contraction, or when tree roots grow under the concrete and disturb it. If the unevenness is slight and confined to one area, repairs may be possible. If the whole surface is affected or the unevenness is severe, it may be better to replace the concrete.

Broken features

Areas like patios may include concrete steps, and it’s common for edges to get chipped away or broken off by weather, pressure, and other damaging elements. This is often easily repaired with a concrete patch job.

Wear and tear

Often, concrete driveways, patios, and paths will start to show little signs of aging, such as small cracks or chipping. If the slab itself has been properly installed and has maintained its integrity, then topical issues can likely be easily covered up with a repair job that improves the surface appearance.


Another surface issue that can make your concrete look less than ideal is discoloration from stains or exposure to sunlight. Again, if the slab is in good shape, then all you need to do is repair the surface appearance. A stain remover made for concrete may do the trick.


A few small, thin cracks on the very top surface of your concrete may be unattractive, but they are unlikely to warrant a concrete replacement. But if you’re noticing a lot of cracks, keep in mind that the more repairs you need to make, the costlier the project will become. If the cracks are numerous, or large, and especially if the surface is divided and broken up in several areas, replacement is often a better, more cost-effective long-term approach.


Concrete driveways can definitely suffer from potholes resulting from shifting Oklahoma soil and moisture freezing and thawing in small cracks. The general rule of thumb is to patch and repair small holes. If the holes are large or if there are several of them, patching may not work. And since potholes can damage cars, replacing the concrete may be a better solution.

Repair Vs. Replace: A Quick Guide

When to repair concrete

Repair is a good option when the issue is minor, the integrity of the slab isn’t in question, and the damage can easily be repaired.

  • Blistering
  • Minor cracks
  • Small holes
  • Stains
  • Discolorations
  • Broken steps

When to replace concrete

It’s usually better to replace a concrete driveway, patio, or flooring when the issues are hard to repair, threaten the concrete’s integrity, or are significant in number and scope.

  • Multiple large cracks
  • Many large potholes
  • Drastically uneven surface
  • Evidence the concrete slab wasn’t installed properly
  • Signs the concrete isn’t bearing its weight load effectively

Enjoy Concrete Driveways and Patios that Make You Proud

When you notice your concrete isn’t looking as attractive or performing as smoothly as you’d like, we’re here to assist you. Our friendly, honest team of concrete pros will assess your driveway, parking areas, walkways, patios, and other concrete surfaces, and provide a detailed writeup so you can make good decisions for your property’s well-being.

To get a sense of how we can help you, check out our gallery of recent work. Contact us to learn more or schedule a consultation to discover how concrete solutions can add value and convenience to your Tulsa area home or business.