How to Fix a Crumbling Concrete Porch (and Tips for Preventing It From Happening Again)

Ben Kissam
Written by Ben Kissam
Updated January 13, 2022
family sitting on porch steps
Photo: lisegagne / Getty Images

Fix those cracks before you break your mother’s… (sorry)

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Picture it: You’re walking to and from the car when you suddenly notice there’s a big chip of concrete missing from the porch steps leading to your home. Or, you and the kids are out playing one day in the backyard, and you think to yourself, “Hey, my porch isn’t looking so hot. What gives?”

A damaged concrete porch isn’t totally unheard of, especially if you’ve owned your home for a while. However, what causes old concrete to crack, chip, or crumble can vary—and some situations may warrant swift and decisive action to prevent other, more expensive problems from happening.

Here are six tips to fix your crumbling concrete porch, plus some preventive measures you can take in the future.

1. Solve Your Drainage Issues (Quickly)

The most serious cause of a crumbling concrete porch typically concerns water leaking into the concrete. Concrete may appear strong and even dense, but it’s quite adept at absorbing liquid. When water and air bubbles get trapped in concrete, this can cause your porch steps to crumble—especially if you live in an area where the water trapped inside constantly freezes and thaws.

Common drainage issues that could be channeling water into your porch include:

  • Incorrect pitch of your yard

  • Clogged gutters or poorly laid gutter downspouts

  • A damaged roof

  • Incorrectly position drains 

Left unchecked, drainage issues like the ones mentioned above could also lead to water into the foundation of your home. If it comes to that, fixing your porch may become the least of your problems.

Check your drainage system first, and then take swift action to fix any issues that may be causing your porch to break apart.

2. Consider If It’s Just General Wear and Tear

girl running up porch steps
Photo: Cavan Images / Getty Images

If your drainage system is intact and functioning like it should be, it could simply be an issue of wear and tear. Does your concrete porch get lots of foot traffic? Do your children like to play on it, or could animals (bugs or other critters) be living under or on the sides?

If the structure appears unsafe, taper off the area and ask family members to use a different entry to your home until you fix the concrete.

3. Power Wash Your Porch (Then Keep Doing It Regularly)

man using pressure power washer to clean steps
Photo: jpldesigns / Adobe Stock

A clean porch is a protected porch. While seeping water can build up inside of it, spraying it down with a power washer actually helps remove dirt and grime that could be causing the concrete to fall apart.

Power washing your porch should be step one before you do any repairs. You might also take a scrub brush to it to wash away any impurities the washer can’t get. In the future, try to make it a regular (monthly) habit going forward. Maybe give it a good spray down every other time you mow the lawn.

If your concrete isn’t sealed, you shouldn’t use a power washer. To test if it’s sealed, see if water beads up on the surface of it. If it merely soaks into the concrete, it’s not sealed.

Instead, use a simple solution of 1 cup baking soda and 2 cups vinegar with a sponge or cleaning rag. The mixture will foam at first, but can be used as a cleaning scrub agent to remove any dirt, grime, or bacteria buildup that could damage your porch in the future. 

4. Seal Any Holes, Then Add A Layer of Concrete Paint

Holes and big chips aren’t just an eyesore, they can reduce the tensile strength of the concrete that’s holding your porch together. You’ll want to seal these off and reinforce them before they get bigger.

There are a few ways to tackle this project:

  • Use replacement self-mixed cement to seal any damage (best for giant holes)

  • Use a vinyl patching mix (available for $10–$15 at home improvement stores)

  • Consider hiring a local concrete patio contractor to assess and repair your issue correctly if it seems like too big of a DIY project.

The cost to resurface concrete is about $400 per 100 square feet.

5. Reinforce Your Concrete Porch With A Steel Dowel

If your concrete porch is literally falling apart, more drastic measures may be needed. A smooth concrete dowel rod can be used to reinforce significantly damaged portions of your porch. 

The task can be labor-intensive, as it will likely require you to chip away at the crack or hole in your concrete to expand it wide enough to insert the steel dowel. At that point, you’ll need to drill the dowel into the concrete, then fill it with replacement concrete and seal it.

Unless you’re a DIY expert, this could be a good job to outsource to a pro.

6. Repair Small Problems Before They Become Big

Going forward, you’ll want to take some steps to prevent concrete porch issues from rising again. Assuming your drainage isn’t an issue, the main focus should be fixing hairline cracks or chips before they become bigger issues that require more expensive repairs.

Keep some putty filler or silicone caulk (both around $20) on hand to seal cracks. If your concrete isn’t sealed, it’s advisable to invest in this if you keep having to fix your porch. (The same logic applies to protecting your garage floors as well.)

Sealing existing concrete costs between $.10 and $.75 per square foot.

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