A Home Inspector’s Weblog by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck

exploring homes and the lives in them around Houston

A New Look Below: paving over a cement patio/walkway

My home was probably quite fashionable when it was built in the mid-sixties. Times change, and the need for a new appearance comes to light. Like many homes (even ones built today, as I see on the job), there is a cement walkway and patio. These surfaces are not as stable as a foundation, since they are not too deep. Cracks begin to show, and the cement is pitted. A good pressure cleaning would make it look nicer, but still something fresh is desired.

It would be feasible to resurface with cement, but I could go for another material. In fact, other surfaces are becoming quite fashionable. Paver designs really can jump out at you. If you remove the old concrete base, pavers provide a way to help reduce flooding, by allowing the water to sink into the ground of your yard. However, this removal can be quite a task. I am opting for covering the old with the new. Placing flagstones or tiles over existing walkways or patios is simple. Construction adhesive could be used for fixing the stones in place, and then grout could be used in the joints. Here is a home that used large flagstones for dramatic effect:

Flagstones over a cement patio

I was at the house for a home inspection. The owner noticed that moisture was on the carpet in several spots. Usually, the suspects will be the plumbing or air conditioning system, so that is where we would investigate. I noticed that the flagstones were two inches thick. On the front paths, this did not cause a problem, but on the patio it did. If you can see in the photo below, the stones cover part of the brick of the exterior wall. There are holes in the brick wall, which allow moisture out from behind the brick. In this case, the water can flow back into the home. Rain falls from the roof to seep back through these holes.

Weephole at the level of the paving

There are two solutions to this situation. For my project, a thinner tile will not come up the wall, so weepholes would not be covered. Exterior tile can be beautiful, and it is just as easy to install. The other solution applies to the flagstones above. The old holes should be covered/plugged, and new weepholes should be made by removing the mortar from between another set of bricks.

Your Houston home inspector,

Frank Schulte-Ladbeck

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