definition of mud jacking

The Definition of Mud Jacking (+ Process and Cost)

You have concrete surfaces like driveways, patios, steps, or sidewalks around your home that are sunken or misaligned and creating tripping hazards.

Maybe they are just kind of ugly and embarrassing and make your home seem “not so nice”? 

Has someone (Grandma, your child, you, a stranger) gotten hurt by these tripping hazards? 

Anchor Foundation Repair Bryan College Station

Do you want to fix these uneven concrete issues before you get sued?

At Anchor Foundation Repair, we know all about mud jacking because it’s one of our main services. We have been helping homeowners (and businesses) correct sunken concrete surface problems in the Brazos Valley area for many years and hundreds of projects. 

This article will cover the basic definition, process, and cost overview of mud jacking so that you can have the factual 411 on this concrete lifting repair. Let’s get started!

What is the Definition of Mud Jacking?

You might think that tearing out all the concrete and starting over is the answer to your misaligned concrete issues, but it doesn’t have to be. Many people are not aware of another method that can be used to correct uneven concrete problems. It is called mud jacking.

definition of mud jacking

Mud jacking is not what I would call an *attractive word*, it sounds like something unpleasant and most people don’t know what it means anyway.

To make things even more confusing, we have seen it spelled mudjacking, mud-jacking, and mud jacking on various industry websites. So I looked it up and the Merriam-Webster Dictionary frankly says it’s not a word . . . it’s two words.

Mud jacking is a concrete slab jacking repair method that involves pumping material underneath a sunken concrete surface to lift it back up to its intended elevation. Speaking of those Merriam-Webster guys, here’s exactly what they said on the matter:

mud jacking – noun

what is the definition of mud jacking

Definition of mud jacking: the raising of a pavement or railroad subgrade by means of mud pumped under it through drilled holes

The process is called mud jacking because it’s a bit like jacking up a car from underneath when you have to change a flat tire. The “mud” is not just dirt and water though, it’s something called slurry. But we will explain those *nitty gritty details* in an upcoming section about how it gets done.

What Mud Jacking is Not . . .

Mud jacking is great for lifting exterior concrete that is generally in good condition back into place. There are some conditions that mud jacking won’t work for though. Here is a short list:

  • Potholes
  • Pool repairs
  • Foundation repairs
  • Crumbling or heavily cracked concrete surfaces at the “end of life”

The process of mud jacking will not fill in surface holes (like potholes). The slurry is not meant to be a surface material. Slurry works underneath surfaces, not on top of them.

Pool repairs and foundation repairs cannot rely solely on the mud jacking method because of weight and control issues. Pools with water in them are heavy, and houses are heavy too. Mud jacking material alone cannot support the weight of these heavier items. Pools also need a more finely controllable material, and slurry is not it.

bad concrete

Mud jacking does not prolong the life of the exposed surface. If the overall concrete area is crumbling and not in decent condition in the first place, mud jacking is not an appropriate repair choice. Mud jacking is a temporary elevation fix for when your concrete surface is still in good shape and worth saving because it still has some good years left to it. 

Eventually, all concrete surfaces will degrade to the point where they need a full replacement and mud jacking will not “revive” a surface like that or “bring it back to life” in that way. That’s when a full replacement is your best choice.

What is the Step-by-Step Process of Mud Jacking?

To further define mud jacking, it’s best to describe the process. Here’s how the repairs happen in three simple steps.

Step 1. Drilling Holes

drilling holes for mud jacking

Drilling a series of 2-inch holes into the concrete surface is the first step. Typically, the holes will be placed in targeted locations to best lift the concrete section.

It is always more than one hole. Three to five holes is a good average. The repair crew would space them evenly or regularly in a pattern or a consistent distance from the edge of the concrete. This will not be a random polka-dot pattern.

In some cases, to avoid drilling holes at all, a smaller surface with adequate clearance on the sides can be mud jacked by digging underneath it. An instance where this might work is on a front sidewalk where you want it to stay looking its best. 

This *side approach* isn’t always possible. But if Anchor were doing this job for you, we would use this technique when it makes sense for the optimal appearance of your home.

Step 2. Lifting with Slurry

A nozzle is then inserted into the holes and a liquid-like substance is pumped into the holes through to the ground under the concrete and lifts the surface up from underneath. 

The mud is actually not mud, but something else sorta like mud but not so sticky. In the construction industry, the liquid-like substance is called slurry.

mixing mud for mud jacking

Slurry is a flowing mix of Portland Cement, topsoil, and water that is combined together to form a fluid that can be pumped through a hose. Not only does slurry lift up the concrete surface from underneath, but this substance also fills in all the voids and pockets of space in the ground under the surface and then hardens when dry for solid support.

It should be noted that all the drilling and lifting are not done at once in two clear steps. It’s really done in stages, where some holes are drilled and one section lifted at a time. 

Then more holes are drilled and another section is lifted. Steps 1 and 2 repeat over and over until the job is complete. This ensures that no unnecessary holes get drilled, minimizing visual impact on your concrete.

Step 3. Finishing Touches

After the slurry is pumped under all the concrete sections needing to be lifted, the work crew will check to make sure things are back into position and have returned to the proper original slope. The 2-inch holes that were drilled into the concrete will be filled back in and leveled off.

before and after mud jacking

Unfortunately, you will be able to see the circles of fresh concrete left behind by this repair. Over time, they fade and will not be so visible as dirt, weather, and water come into contact with the surface. 

Ideally, a repair crew would also take time to clean up their supplies and equipment and wash off your concrete surfaces too. Leaving you with a leveled-out surface and everything back in order. If it were Anchor doing the work, this important clean up is certainly part of our process. . . 

What is the Average Cost of a Typical Mud Jacking Job?

Most mud jacking work can be done in a day or less. Quick turnaround is one of the great benefits of mud jacking, as well as a cheaper cost than a full replacement of concrete surfaces. Fast work is one reason why a mud jacking repair costs less than a full replacement. 

The cost of mud jacking depends on how much time it takes, how many surfaces need raising, and how much slurry material is needed to complete the job. Some contractors will price this work on how much time it takes, while others might use a combination of pricing methods.

A typical mud jacking project might cost between $1,200 to $2,800 in this area. But let’s show you Anchor’s average costs broken down further into small, medium, and larger job sizes:

cost of concrete leveling using mud jacking

For us, a basic mud jacking project with one or two concrete panels needing repair would cost around $1,600. An average-sized mud jacking repair falls in the $2,700 range, and an extensive repair that includes the entire driveway could be up to $7,000 or more.

When is Mud Jacking Right for Your Concrete Surface Needs?

good candidate for mud jacking

Mud jacking is best for certain homeowners and at particular times. To sum up situations where it might be best to use mud jacking, here are three perfect scenarios where it would be your top choice.

  1. The surface has life left in it, just needs to be pushed back up into position.
  2. Tripping hazards are your main concern, a few visual crack lines or circle patches in your concrete don’t matter.
  3. You don’t want a full replacement of concrete due to lack of funds or desire but want to do *something* proactive to make it better.

There are other methods for handling sunken concrete too if you don’t know all of the options.

Want to Know More About the Pros and Cons of Mud Jacking?

Now that you know the basic definition, process, and costs of mud jacking, you want to know more about its advantages and disadvantages. Much like any time you are weighing repair options, it’s good to know some of the pros and cons of any particular method.

concrete leveling using mud jacking

At Anchor Foundation Repair, we know what concrete surfaces are right for mud jacking and will be the first to tell you if mud jacking IS or ISN’T the best choice for your home. After 35+ years in the Brazos Valley community, we find that 100% honesty and transparency are the best policies behind our recommendations to homeowners.

Since we know that there’s no *flawlessly-perfect-repair-method-for-every-situation* out there, pros and cons help you make informed decisions for your home. Check out the full breakdown of the Pros and Cons of Mud Jacking for Concrete Repair here.