Our garage is about 80 years old and made of steel-reinforced concrete. The inspector deemed it structurally sound, but cosmetically the interior is a mess.

The concrete has come loose (it is old aggregate), all the way down to the steel in spots, and more bits of concrete dust come down from time to time. The walls are also very rough and scratch up our hands and cars.

What can I do to halt the decay, preserve the steel, and smooth the walls out a bit?

  • Have you considered just drywalling it?
    – Steven
    Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 16:09
  • How thick does the repair need to be? The process for a 1/2" thick cosmetic repair is much different than say, 2" thick rebuild. Commented Feb 24, 2012 at 12:07
  • @shirlock I'm not sure. I think the deepest recesses are somewhere between 1-2" on the ceiling, and less than 1" on the walls. I would prefer not to lose very much space on the walls, since my car will already only barely fit. Commented Feb 24, 2012 at 16:47
  • @Steven, the garage is pretty damp, so I'd be concerned about drywall. Maybe green drywall might work, but I'd worry about it getting 'funky' behind there. Commented Feb 24, 2012 at 16:48

1 Answer 1


Concrete is a peculiar material to work with, and repairing it can be quite troublesome.

The main thing is that it is structurally sound, even after 80years that is very good news.

In my experienced opinion the best method would be...

Mix up a stronger batch of plaster(more cement or less sand), typically the ratio is 5-1 sand to cement. But many times on the bad of cement you will see guidelines. This ratio is for indoor bricks. Because your wall is already rough, jagged it provides very good grip for the layer you are going to apply. Now remember how I said concrete is peculiar.. naturally you would want to seal the old concrete before putting the new one.. this is not a good idea because concrete needs to breathe and bonds better with other concrete applied onto it. However, sealing the TOP layer will be the crucial and most beneficial step!

You are concerned about the metal parts inside the concrete... no need. Once you apply the plaster and seal the top layer, either by oil based paints or some sort of concrete sealer, the oxidization levels inside the concrete will be minimalistic.. and for the metal to completely degrade will take a few hundred years..

You do not need to particualry prepare the old concrete.. it would not hurt by hosing it down with water a bit before plastering it. Will help with bonding. You can leave any loose bits in side- just try to fill up any voids in the concrete with plaster.

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As long as the pillar in that photo is deemed structurally safe.. plastering it will make it look like new

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A nice typical flat finish after plastering...

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There are other ways of doing this but this is only how I would do it.

  • So just mash it in there and hope it sticks? What about for the ceiling--do you recommend a different thickness or mix? Commented Feb 28, 2012 at 17:11
  • 1
    You do not need to hope it sticks. As long as the surface you are applying to is free of dust and dampened it WILL stick! Also do not smear it on. throw the plaster onto the wall, then smear it down to a smooth surface.
    – Piotr Kula
    Commented Oct 1, 2012 at 14:15

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