Are Concrete Overlays Expensive? (Square Foot & Labor Cost Guide)

Typical concrete overlays are an excellent option when you need to repair or decorate your existing concrete surfaces. And they come in different colors, patterns, finishes, and thicknesses to suit various preferences.

Concrete overlays can be cheap or expensive. The cost of installing them depends on the:

  • Type of concrete overlay
  • Area to be covered
  • Labor required for installation
  • Thickness of concrete overlay
  • Condition of the existing concrete surface
  • Location
  • Design features of the concrete overlay

Before you determine which concrete overlay is suitable for your budget, you must consider all the factors influencing the costs. This article discusses these factors as well as the cost of resurfacing concrete per square foot.

Factors Affecting the Cost of Concrete Overlays

It will cost you an average of $3 to $10 per square foot to resurface your concrete surfaces. However, smaller residential properties may cost you more for each square foot covered due to the economies of scale. As a result, you may pay $500 to $1,000 or even more as the minimum charge even for a smaller area.

In addition, the concrete surfaces need resealing. And that will cost you an additional $20 to $80 per gallon of sealant.

Below are the factors that affect the cost of concrete overlays:

1. Type of Concrete Overlay

Several types of concrete overlays exist. These include self-leveling overlays, micro toppings, stampable overlays, and multipurpose overlays (spray-down overlays). The concrete overlay products vary in terms of how thickly they can be applied.

Also, they differ in how well they accept dyes, stains, and textured designs. And whereas some work as the final finish, others can be used as an underlayment upon which you can install other flooring products.

The price of concrete overlays varies in terms of the type. The more functional applications the products have and the higher the quality of overlays, the costlier they are. In addition, the brand matters. Reputable brands will charge more.

For example, it will cost you anywhere from $1.8 to $5 per square foot to install self-leveling concrete overlays. The cost covers both materials and labor. In that case, a 50-pound bag will cost you $35 on average, and it would cover 45 cubic feet of space.

On the other hand, micro-toppings and other simple overlays will cost an average of $3 to $7 per square foot. However, basic micro-toppings will be on the cheaper end of that range. But if you were to opt for the more expensive decorative overlays, such as Stampable overlays, expect to pay anywhere from $7 to 12 per square foot.

2. Area to Be Covered

The area to be covered also influences how much you will spend on concrete overlay materials. Generally, the larger the surface to be covered or the bigger the volume to be filled, the more money you will spend on resurfacing.

For example, bearing in mind that the average cost of concrete overlays is anywhere from $3 to $10 per square foot, a 200 square foot area will cost you $600 to $2,000. On the other hand, a 1000 square foot area will cost you $3,000 to $10,000, assuming all the other factors are constant.

That said, there are exceptions. As stated earlier, smaller residential properties may end up costing more because of the economies of scale. The set minimum charge may apply to make financial sense for the professionals to come and install the concrete overlay in your property.

3. Labor Required for Installation

How much time and effort it takes for professionals to install concrete overlays will significantly impact the costs.

Part of the reason overlays like micro toppings and self-leveling overlays are cheaper is that they may be easier to apply. The professionals you hire don’t have to take such a long time to resurface your concrete surfaces. Alternatively, you may be able to do the work on your own with minimal supervision to cut down costs.

The same does not apply to concrete overlays, such as stampable overlays. And while spray-down concrete overlays take fewer materials than their stampable parts, they also require skilled labor.

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Typically, stampable overlays require concrete specialists first to apply the concrete overlay mixture then stamp on it to create different designs and textures. And the more intricate the designs, the more effort and time it takes to make them.

And in the end, they will look superb. But stampable overlays will also make a huge dent in your pocket. So, it is not unusual for people to spend an average of $7 to $25 per square foot to enjoy having stamped concrete surfaces.

4. The Thickness of Concrete Overlay

How thick the concrete overlay is applied affects the overall costs of installing them. Usually, the average thickness varies from ¼ to 2 inches. However, concerning micro toppings, you can layer them very thinly. That thinness can range from 1/32 to 1/8 inches, thus allowing it to adhere to most surfaces.

However, some concrete overlays are pretty thick and can range from 2 to 11 inches, depending on whether they are bonded or unbounded overlays. These are usually used in outdoor areas, such as pavements.

Bonded overlays are best for surfaces in excellent condition and range from 2 to 5 inches in thickness. On the other hand, unbonded overlays are suitable for highly damaged existing surfaces and have a thickness of 4 to 11 inches.

The general rule of thumb is that the thicker the overlay, the costlier it will be. That is because you would need to use more of the concrete overlay mixture to resurface your concrete surfaces. And the product is not free.

However, you cannot consider the thinness of a concrete overlay independent of other factors. If the resurfacing is decorative and includes different colors, patterns, and finishes, expect it to cost more despite the thinness. In such a case, it is possible to pay $5 to $7 per square foot to install a decorative micro-topping that is 1/8 inches or less in thickness.

5. Condition of the Existing Concrete Surface

The point of using concrete overlays is to resurface the existing concrete surfaces. However, not all these existing surfaces are alike. While some are in relatively good condition, others are in horrible condition. And the latter will require you to spend more time, effort, and possibly additional materials to prepare the concrete for resurfacing. For concrete overlay to adhere well, your surface should be clean, rough, and porous enough.

Some of the preparatory activities you may need to do will include the following:

  • If your existing concrete surface has a sealant, glue, or a different coating, you may have to first ground or clean the surface so that the overlay can bond with it. Power washing is part of this process.
  • If the concrete surface has cracks, you must fill those cracks up. You may have to buy a caulking compound or epoxy mortar for the holes.
  • You need to prime the surface to prepare it for the concrete overlay you want to apply. It will help enhance adhesion.
  • If you intend to resurface the concrete surfaces on your own, you need to buy all the relevant materials and supplies, such as pressure washers and hand grinders. It would help if you also bought sealers to seal the concrete overlay after application.
  • If your floor is uneven and has depressions, you may need to invest in a self-leveling overlay, which can be pretty costly at times. Micro toppings may not work in such cases.

Typically, concrete specialists will factor in the existing surface condition when quoting you the installation price. But prepare to pay more for the surfaces that have more damage and require a lot of preparation.

6. Location

In this case, location refers to the surface you intend to resurface, considering the rest of the property and the geographical area your property is in.

In locations such as garages and the pool deck, which experience high traffic, high pressure, and prolonged exposure to the elements, the concrete overlays may end up being more expensive. That is because the existing surface may be more damaged, and the new overlay may need to be of higher quality, thicker, and more textured to be stronger and more durable. That way, it can withstand the conditions that the surface encounters much better.

So, suppose you want to apply a concrete overlay in a garage. You need high-quality products like epoxies to enable the existing surfaces to withstand wear and tear better. In such a case, expect to pay $1,400 to $2,900, depending on whether you use a water- or solvent-based epoxy.

On the other hand, regular indoor floors will cost you $1,600 to $3,900. But if you want to resurface your pool deck, the cost will be $2,250 to $3,750 for a simple overlay or $6,000 to $15,000 for the more expensive stampable concrete overlay.

Another aspect of the location you need to consider is where you are located regionally. If you live in an expensive city, expect to pay more for a concrete specialist’s services than those living in cheaper cities. In addition, the higher costs of living will also affect the material and equipment costs.

For example, in New York City, one of the most expensive cities in the country, concrete specialists will charge you an average of $2,720 for a concrete-related project. However, for a similar job, you would pay an average of 2,046 in Texas.

So, be reasonable when factoring in the location of the concrete surfaces to be resurfaced. It would be wise to create a realistic budget that considers the cost of living in the area you live in and the conditions the surface will be exposed to constantly over the long term.

7. The Design Features of the Concrete Overlay

Most types of concrete overlays have a basic form they take. That is usually one color, pattern, or finish.

But thanks to advances in manufacturing technologies, concrete overlays can now accommodate a wide variety of design preferences. Therefore, they can come in different colors, tints, finishes, textures, and stains. The more design variance the concrete overlay allows, the more money it will cost.

Suppose you apply concrete overlay with a knockdown, broom, or textured finish and want to include one color. In that case, you will pay $3 to $5 per square foot.

However, if you prefer a stampable overlay that uses more material and requires more and includes one or two colors into the mix, you will pay more. In that case, it will cost you $5 to $8 per square foot.

So, what happens when you need a more mid-level overlay with multiple colors, designs, and textures? Well, your concrete contractor will increase the price even more. Expect to pay anywhere from $8 to $12 per square foot for resurfacing.

And should you want an extremely high-end look that includes hand carving, multiple stamps, finishes, and colors, ensure you have a budget that can accommodate costs of at least $12 to $16 per square foot.

In addition, you have the choice of having customizable intricate designs that are unique to you. Typical projects of this sort will require individualized bids. But expect to pay more than $17 per square foot for them. Some could cost as much as $25 per square foot or more.

It is also worth noting that more complex patterns, finishes, colors, etc., will require more skilled concrete contractors. And even in cheaper cities, these contractors will likely quote you far more than the average labor prices to resurface your concrete surfaces. So, the more intricately designed your concrete overlays are, the more money you will need to spend.

How Much Does It Cost to Resurface Concrete Per Square Foot?

The table below summarizes the average costs of resurfacing concrete per square foot based on pricing factors.

Factors that Influence CostLow End of the Price RangeHigh End of the Price Range
Type of concrete overlay$1.8 to $5 per square foot for self-leveling concrete overlays. $3 to $7 per square foot for micro toppings and other simple overlaysHighly decorative overlays, such as stampable overlays, will cost $7 to 12 per square foot.
Area to be coveredGenerally, the smaller the surface is, the cheaper the concrete overlay is to a point.Generally, the large the area to be covered, the more expensive the concrete overlay. For tiny resurfacing projects, the cost per square foot can be high. Typically, the $500 to $1000 minimum charge applies.
Labor required for installationThe less the labor required for concrete overlay application, the cheaper the work is. You could save on labor costs by doing the work on your own. Micro toppings and self-leveling overlays are quite affordable for that reason.Spray-down overlays take fewer materials than stampable versions but need skilled labor and at least two people to do the job correctly. Stampable overlays take up more materials, time, and effort to apply. You may need to spend $7 to $25 to enjoy these kinds of flooring solutions.
The thickness of the concrete overlayThe thinner the layer of overlay, the cheaper the cost of application. Thinner layers usually range from 1/32 to 2 inches.The thicker the layer of overlay, the more expensive the cost of application. Thicker layers range from 2 to 11 inches.
Condition of the existing concrete surfaceExisting concrete surfaces in good condition require less labor and materials to prepare hence cost less.Existing concrete surfaces in bad conditions require more work and materials hence cost more.
LocationLower cost of living areas, such as Austin, Texas, will cost less. The average concrete project will cost $2,046. Indoor floors around your home that are not as exposed to the elements will cost you an average of $1,600 to $3,900 to resurface.Higher cost of living areas, such as New York City, will cost more. The average concrete project will cost $2,720. Smaller indoor spaces that undergo lots of wear and tear, such as garages, will cost an average of $1,400 to $2,900. Outdoor areas exposed to the elements, such as the pool deck, will cost an average of $2,250 to $3,750 for a simple overlay. But they may also cost as much as $6,000 to $15,000 for a stampable overlay.
The design features of the concrete overlaySimple designs will cost $3 to $5 per square foot for one color. Simple designs with two colors will cost $5 to $8 per square foot. Mid-range designs with several colors will cost $8 to $12 per square foot.Complex designs with multiple colors will cost $12 to $16 per square foot. Complex and customizable designs will cost anywhere from $17 to $25 per square foot or more.

Final Thoughts

There is no one-size-fits-all pricing model concerning concrete overlays. Some applications will cost an arm and a leg, while others will be pretty affordable.

Generally, if you live in a cheaper area, are willing to do some or all of the work yourself, and opt for thinner overlays, such as micro toppings, you will spend less. In addition, if the existing concrete surfaces are in excellent condition and you opt for simple designs, you will also save money.

However, if the area you want to apply an overlay on is too small or too large and you prefer complex designs, ensure you have a large budget to accommodate your desires.

Also, if you live in an expensive area, intend to resurface an area exposed to the elements or lots of traffic, and your existing surface has a lot of damage, adjust your budget upwards accordingly. You are more likely to finish your resurfacing project if you are realistic about the costs that await you during the concrete overlay installation.

Sources

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Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections for 17 years. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. I started HomeInspectionInsider.com to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.

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