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Concrete overlay (w/ acid or water based stain?) or porcelain tile?

H Briz
last year
last modified: last year

I have an old concrete patio that needs to be resurfaced and I don't want to use solid color stain as I have in the past. For reasons I won't get into, I can't raise the height of the patio more than 3/4" so pavers were never an option. But then I saw thin porcelain tile made by MSI (https://www.msisurfaces.com/porcelain-brickstone/brickstone-red-5x10/ ) and was so excited. I have been getting estimates from installers and trying to find one willing to agree, in their written bids, that they will install per the guidelines of the manufacturer, the tile institute and Laticrete's stratamat directions (which I am willing to pay for) but so far, no luck.

In the meantime, I happened upon a display of concrete overlays that had been laid in various designs and stained in multiple colors - nothing like the plain solid stains I had been using before. It looked like it wouldn't stain from hardwater and, if it did, the mottled colors would blend in so it wouldn't look bad.

The questions I have are as follows.

How well would a thin overlay hold up outside under heavy planters and tables? Do they delaminate in climates like southern california?

What type of stain would be best for my situation - acid or water based?

My patio has cracks - and a few are over 1/8". What is the best way to repair them? With a flexible type of epoxy so the crack won't transfer up through the overlay?

Related to the cracks, I saw flagstone designs that incorporated cracks into the design but a cobble stone or brick look would work so much better with my house. Is is possible not to follow the cracks and, instead, cover them with a repeating pattern like brick?

I would love to hear from those who have tried this and how it turned out and how long it lasts. Question for the pros, what companies make the best products and why? Any install tips?

Thanks! I have gotten such great input in these discussions that I thank all in advance. :)

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