Courtyard Resurfaced!

By Kate Riley April 23, 2012

So I’ve been dreaming of resurfacing our courtyard space for years and years and years.  Long story short, after our home’s expansion and remodel six years ago we were left with hodge podge pieces of old and new concrete surfaces that never matched up.  Over the years, I covered it up and diverted attention with outdoor rugs and furniture and pots in places, but oh heavens it was not an attractive scene. 

We went back and forth on how to remedy the whole problem.  Rip out the concrete and repour new?  Cover it with travertine or slate?  All the solutions we could think of over the years ended up too costly and too big of a headache, so it sat and sat for season after season. 

After the back breaking job of adding stone to a smaller circular patio last year, we knew the large courtyard was a job we wanted to hand over to professionals. A few months ago, Matt found the perfect solution: a company that offered concrete restoration that would completely resurface our existing courtyard and unite it all together without any removal at all, and that was exactly what we were looking for. 

Here’s our rear courtyard before the work began, it measures roughly 20’ x 20’. 

courtyard before


Here’s how it looks now after the resurfacing.  Much improved!

resurfaced courtyard after


We are so so thrilled to have a cohesive looking outdoor space, here’s how it played out over the course of four days.  The first day was all about preparation – we had to move all the planters and furniture off and clear the concrete.  We also decided since the crew was in the yard to resurface the small patio up above where we have the summer cabana.  Here’s Matt moving the cabana frame and all the furniture to our lawn. 

top of cabana


He also helped the guys clear off the concrete surfaces of dirt and debris.   

scoop dirt


Next came a strong power wash to get rid of all that long time gunky stuff that had accumulated over the years and the surfaces sat in the sun to completely dry for a day. 

power wash


The second day, the crew of three came back to fill in cracks and do the skim coat, which was like a primer.  They poured a polymer concrete formula onto the existing slabs and skim coated them to unite all the multicolored and multi textured surfaces together. 

trowel skim coat


Even after that first coat, we noticed a huge improvement!

primer coat


Day three was all about laying down the subtle tile look pattern in the courtyard and adding the final concrete layer on top.  Here’s Andy of DelGrosso Concrete and his assistant designing the pattern for the next layer with specialized nylon tapes.   

measuring pattern


The middle pattern was stamped, then the outside troweled by hand with an imperfectly smooth finish and allowed to dry a full day. 

final resurfacing by hand


Once the final coat was dry, the nylon tapes were peeled up the next day to reveal the pattern and get the surface ready for the sealer. 

custom nylon tape


I wasn’t present for the final day they sealed the entire surface, but that was the last step!  Now what we see up close in the center of the courtyard is this subtle pattern. 

tile stamp detail


Here’s a view of the line between the exposed aggregate surface and the plain concrete pathway before it was resurfaced. 

side before

Now the lines are blurred with the new polymer concrete surface on top. 

side walkway resurfaced


Here’s the view of the upper patio that we also resurfaced.  It had some cracks, so we decided to work with them, and created a bunch more to make it look like a random design.  We’re loving the abstract pattern up on this patio surface. 

upper patio after


I had high hopes of moving all the furniture and cushions back to this area but since the forecast is rain later this week, I’ll have to wait.  But it is so so so nice to have one smooth surface outside that looks a million times better than it did before.  This is the  outdoor space right off the kitchen, it’s a great place to relax and hang out with friends. kitckitchen

I keep hearing the famous Etta James song in my head every time I look at it.  “At laaaaaaast….”    A huge thank you to DelGrosso Design for doing such a terrific job.  We can’t wait to spend our summers out here later this year! 




  1. I can’t believe that transformation! Absolutely beautiful!! You will have a lot of great memories in that courtyard. Can’t wait to see it with the furniture back in place. Missi

  2. Wow-zer! Your courtyard looks amazing! I would love to have one in my dream home one day :)
    PS-I’m going to be your way next week! I finally get to experience Napa! Any recommendations of must go vineyards and restaurants? :)

  3. Kate, it looks amazing! You must be loving the change… Especially after waiting so long! Can’t wait to see it with your pkanters and furniture!

  4. Great before and after project. I’d love to do something like that with our wide concrete front porch. How wonderful that yours is done in time to enjoy it all season this summer. :)

  5. Your courtyard looks amazing! can’t wait to see it all dressed up and ready for relaxing.

  6. Love this! Great job, as always. I’m totally about to paint our concrete-it’s already cut in a diamond shape so I’m doing the checkerboard look with grays. You’re inspiring me to get to it!

  7. Wow! What a amazing space. I had admired it before but WOW it is truly amaing. I wish I had an outdoor space like that. I can visulaliza LOTS of awesome dinner parties there. Since I don’t have a space like that please invite to me a dinner party ;)

  8. Wow – looks great. Good call resurfacing instead of ripping up the old stuff and starting from scratch. You must have saved a ton of money that way. And what a cool space. I’m a sucker for courtyards, something about the semi-enclosed, indoor/outdoor feel that really gets me. Ours is less defined on each side (it’s bordered on all sides by a steep hill and three separate structures, so it’s a little more open to the surroundings than if all sides were connected somehow). I love the privacy they offer, like you’re inside but not.

  9. I have always wanted a little courtyard area. It makes me thing of a Tuscan villa. It’s amazing what a transformation the resurfacing did. The look of stone pavers really ads a touch of character to the space. I can’t wait to see what it looks like once you move all the furniture back into place. I’m happy you go the transformation you have been waiting years on.

  10. This really does look amazing! Our front porch is in serious need of a facelift, so I’ll be showing this to my hubbie. Love it!

  11. It looks great, much improved. I think this is a great lesson in knowing your DIY limits, also. Some jobs are better left to the pros :) I can’t wait to see it all dressed up!

  12. Looks great! Such a California style, I love it. Now you can relax out there and invite me over to drink one of your famous raspberry lemontini’s! Minus the vokda for ol’ preggo over here, of course ; )

  13. WoW! This turned out wonderfully:) What a different it all made. It will be a nice place to sit, relax, and admire the new patio!

  14. What a difference is so great that you used what was already there instead of digging it all up and starting over..You can not tell at all that the old stuff is under there..Enjoy!!

  15. That is a jaw-dropping transformation!! The before was quite hideous (the first thing EVER on your blog to even approach hideous!) and the result is just GORGEOUS! So well designed to correlate with the rest of your lovely home. WOW! I am so motivated to continue our own exterior updates.

  16. I’m so curious to know how much this cost you. This *sounds* like a perfect solution for our outdoor patio situation, but can’t tell if it’s within budget or not.

  17. When I saw the title of the post I thought you did what I was doing this weekend, staining concrete. But you were smarter and went with the pros! It looks fantastic and such a great improvement, time and money saving too! Although the concrete staining wasn’t bad and it is for an indoor space, it is just the DIY part that isn’t fun. Good call on that one Kate! I see new patio furniture in your future :)

  18. LOVE! Amazing transformation. I would love to know where you got your patio furniture. I’m loving that too :)

  19. Hi Tami, it’s not cheap! The labor and polymer concrete materials are much more expensive than plain ol concrete and/or concrete stain. For four days labor with a crew of three, plus all the materials for both surfaces, we paid several thousand dollars. It will all depend on the bid you get from your local professional and your square footage but you should expect to pay anywhere from $6-8 a square foot.

  20. What an amazing transformation! It looks so much better now that it is all cohesive in color. What a perfect place for lounging and entertaining!!

  21. Looks great and cannot wait to see it styled again :) someday my home will be styled too…once the kiddo is old enough to not be in danger of trying to climb/jump/eat her way to disaster.

  22. Oooh! Looks nice! I wonder if such a thing would work well here in IL. We have so many crazy weather changes, I wonder if it would crack…I think I have some investigating to do! This is a great idea!


    • Hey Mary, yes look around to see if any local companies offer it. Not sure how it performs in the snow but it dried so darn hard it’s like the concrete was poured instead of resurfaced! We’re loving it! Let me know what you find out!

  23. Hi Kate! The patio looks great! I can’t wait to see what you’ll do with the space.
    It was such an honor to meet you at the Snap Conference! You were so sweet and gracious and I thoroughly enjoyed your talk.

  24. What a beautiful space and yes, the transformation is dramatic. We have a very large ugly area, similar size and it is just a mess. Hiring someone is out of the question so I am thinking of ways to spruce it up. It is old cement that is cracked and nasty. Thanks for the inspiration :)

  25. A lot of work going on there but wow what a difference, you will definately enjoy some summer evenings out there in your new surroundings.

  26. That looks amazing and I can’t wait to see it with furnishings and accessories! (Good thing you can’t see our ratty old deck that needs to be redone but with $$ will have to wait another year)

  27. Fabulous transformation! We need to do this to the front driveway but the quotes have been way too much. hmmmm…maybe we could do it ourselves ;)

  28. Beautiful transformation! They really did a great job. It’s wonderful to have it open to the kitchen, dining room and the garage. Have fun decorating once the sun comes back!

  29. Looks that it could be resurfaced with such great results…I consider it a ‘green, earth friendly’ solution, not ripping out all that was there, just giving it a new look. wonderful !

  30. Hi Kate,
    Your concrete surface looks great. What a nice solution. I hope as warmer weather comes to the west coast you’ll give us more views of your yard. I remember admiring some of your outdoor areas in past posts.

  31. I didn’t even know you could do this to concrete. It looks gorgeous. Hopefully they did it all why you were gone and you came home to a gorgeous new outdoors!

  32. Hi Kate, It was so great meeting you at the SNAP conference. {I tried not to act TOO star-struck!} Yours was one of the first I read & followed when I was starting out, so you’ve always been a blog hero of mine. Of course I have your pic in my post today. Thanks for coming to Utah!

    Warmly, Michelle

  33. Kate, this is terrific. My fiance and I have a large pebbly concrete patio that really need an upgrade. We’ll have to look into it! Thanks!

  34. Wow, Kate, what a great change!! I’m guessing that outdoor living is one of the very best things about living in California, so how wonderful for you to have this cool new look. Congrats on getting a very big job done! It’ll be fun to see how it looks when you put it all back together. :)

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