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Understanding The Various Types Of Concrete Overlays

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Adding a concrete overlay is one of the most effective ways to boost the aesthetic appeal of a concrete surface. Yet it is vital that you choose the right type of overlay system to meet your needs--otherwise you may find it developing problems prematurely. If you would like to learn more about the various concrete overlay systems used today, read on. This article will discuss the four different varieties.


Also known as skim coats, microtops are the thinnest variety of concrete overlay. That said, they can still offer a reasonable measure of durability. This is thanks to the fact that such overlays are applied in a series of layers. Generally the bottom layers consist of an overlay made with a thicker aggregate, whose larger particles help to fill in declivities on the surface. Finer microtops are subsequently installed, resulting in a smooth surface. Color can be added to microtops by broadcasting dry pigment across the surface as it is being troweled.

Spray Down

Spray down overlays are similar to microtops in terms of their thickness. However, they differ in that they are made using a greater proportion of sand. They are applied using an air-powered gun, a technique that results in a highly textured surface--one, in other words, that presents a good amount of slip-resistance. For this reason, spray down overlays are especially prized for adding grip to such surfaces as sidewalks, driveways, and pool decks.


Stampable overlays offer a much greater range of aesthetic mimicry. They can be utilized either indoors or outdoors to lend a concrete surface the look of stone, tile, brick, or even wood. They consist of a thicker, cement-based product. Once such an overlay has been poured into place, plastic mats are pressed into its surface, thus yielding indented lines that make it like more natural paving materials. Stampable overlays can also be colored and/or stained to increase their appeal.

Self Leveling

Self leveling overlays are generally considered more of a utilitarian choice. They offer one of the best ways to correct damaged or uneven concrete surfaces. Likewise, they are often added in order to provide a suitable underlayment for carpet, tile, and other types of floor coverings. That said, self leveling overlays can also be used for more decorative ends, as they are no less receptive to dyes or stains than other types of overlay. Self leveling overlays require an experienced contractor to install, since they possess a relatively short working window, meaning they must be installed both quickly and expertly.

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