It is important to make repairs on your stairs as soon as damages or failures make their appearance. There are several reasons for this. 1. Esthetics, 2. Structural, 3. Liability. Let’s look at esthetics. Many times the stairs are placed directly in front of your building, store, or front door. It is important to project a clean, safe, and esthetically pleasing entrance to impress the public, your customers, and clients. No one wants their customers’ first impression to be that of a flight of stairs that has loose pieces of concrete on or about the step, loose handrails, or holes in the landings. You want a clean, sound stairway for them to traverse. Structurally, you need a safe stairway that will support the pedestrian traffic using it. You want the guard rails to be sturdy to support the weight of a person that may need to use the rail to support their weight if they stumble or fall into it. If the stairs are showing any signs of damages such as cracks, missing chunks, or loose rails, you are setting yourself up for a lawsuit. If the heel of a high heel shoe will fit into the crack, you need to repair it. You need to protect the public from injury, as well as yourself from liability.
Repairing stairs the conventional way is usually difficult, time-consuming, and intrusive. By, conventional, we mean remove and replace. To remove and replace concrete stairs, you must break out the existing concrete with jackhammers or sledgehammers – not always an easy task. Then, you need to remove the broken concrete, which must be hauled away and properly disposed of. If you are lucky, you are close to a piece of equipment to load the concrete into the transport vehicle. If your transport vehicle is not close and your loading equipment is too large to get to your work area, you can look forward to pushing wheelbarrows. Forming the stairs is no easier, no harder than the initial install; it is just time-consuming. Pouring the new concrete can be difficult if the truck cannot make it to the stair area. If that is the case, you will be forced to wheelbarrow or pump the concrete to the stairs, both adding additional time and cost to the repair. It is suggested that you give 12 to 24 hours of cure time before you allow foot traffic on the stairs. 24 hours is highly recommended, especially if you are pouring handrails into the steps. As stated above, repairing steps by replacing them is difficult and time-consuming. As for intrusive, at the minimum, you are looking at a 24- to 36-hour repair, and really it is more like a 48-hour repair.
There is an alternative. It’s FlexKit 5, distributed by JES Supply of Las Vegas. FlexKit 5 is a thermal set vinyl polymer that when mixed with blast sand will reach compressive strengths as high as 12,000 P.S.I., making it 2½ to 3 times stronger than concrete. FlexKit 5 cure times are influenced by temperature, but can be made to cure in as little as 15 minutes with the addition of our JES X (accelerator). Cracks, gouges, spalls, and missing concrete can be repaired in mere minutes with FlexKit 5.
Damages are repaired by cleaning the repair area with a hand grinder and small chipping guns. This procedure cleans the damaged area while providing a strong structural surface to achieve the best adhesion. Remove any residual dust with forced air from a leaf blower or air compressor. At this point the repair is ready for JES Prime, a two-part primer designed to penetrate the pores of the concrete and then expand as it cures, creating a super-strong mechanical bond.
When the primer becomes tacky, much like duct tape, it is time to apply the FlexKit 5/sand mixture to the repair area. The FlexKit 5 mixture is packed into the repair area, shaped, and finished with standard concrete finishing tools. The FlexKit 5 material bonds to the JES Primer on a molecular level, creating a bond that becomes stronger than the concrete itself. Allow the material to cure, then if needed, you can grind the repair area smooth with a hand-held grinder with a stone wheel mounted onto the grinder.
JES Supply Company sells FlexKit 5 in a five-gallon pail or in 3 different sized kits. These kits, known as FlexKits, are designed to give you a choice in the amount of material you need for your particular repair. Each kit contains all the materials needed to make the repairs whether it be on a horizontal, vertical, or overhead surface.
The best advice we can give you when it comes to making lasting repairs on your stairs: When you find the concrete on your stairs beginning to deteriorate or fail, do not hesitate. Purchase a FlexKit and make an immediate repair. This will save you time and money in the long run. For additional information or guidance, contact the helpful folks at JES Supply Company.
Author: Ed McSwain
Ed has been involved in the underground utilities industry for the past 41 years, 28 years as a General Contractor specializing in the installation of all underground systems throughout the Southwest United States. In the last 8 years, Mr. McSwain has ventured into the concrete coatings industry, supplying contractors with products used to repair and preserve concrete both above and below ground.