What is Mud Jacking? (Definition, Process, and Cost)

Grandma is slowly walking up the sidewalk to your front door, she’s not as spry as she used to be and doesn’t pick up her feet very much for each step. Two pieces of your sidewalk come together but are not aligned, one concrete surface is sunken down below the other. Grandma’s shoe catches the edge of the misaligned sidewalk section. 

In voice-slurring slow motion, you yell, “waaaaaaaaaatch ouuuuuuuuuut,” and run towards her out the door. But it’s too late, she fell because of the tripping hazard created by your sidewalk. Luckily, she fell into the grass and wasn’t hurt . . . this time . . . 

Imagine this was a stranger that tripped on your property *lawsuit*, or your child *ouchies*, or you while carrying two massive armloads of groceries *arrrrrrgh + broken eggs + a visit to the chiropractor*. Tripping hazards are just one example of the issues that sunken concrete surfaces around your home can create.

tripping hazard picture
Tripping hazard

Do you have concrete surfaces like driveways, patios, porches, steps, or sidewalks around your home that are sunken, misaligned, or create tripping hazards? Maybe they are just kind of ugly and embarrassing and make your home seem “not so nice”? Or you have a patio that slopes one way down and when you put a glass on the patio table, you can clearly see from the water level in the glass that looks like it is sloping too. Do you want to fix these things?

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

It’s not a pretty sounding thing, 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. So we’re gonna listen to those dudes (they were dudes, right?) and let them be the experts on the word stuff.

But if you’re looking for experts on actually doing mud jacking, Anchor Foundation Repair is a company that knows the process. We have been helping homeowners (and businesses) correct sunken concrete surface problems in the Brazos Valley area for many years. 

Mud jacking is one of our primary services, with over 400 completed mud jacking projects under our belts. We are confident in our abilities to do this type of work.

We realize that mud jacking might not work for every sunken concrete surface problem, and we pledge to be the first to tell you that when that applies. 

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We want to provide you with some factual information about what mud jacking does, the work process, and how much it might cost in general for this type of work so that you can make an informed decision for you and your home needs. Let’s get started!

What is Mud Jacking? (Definition)

Mud jacking 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

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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, we will explain all that in the next section about how it gets done.

What Mud Jacking is Not . . .

There are some conditions that mud jacking won’t work for, here is a short list.

  • Potholes
  • Pool repairs
  • Foundation repairs
  • Concrete surfaces at the “end of life”

The process of mud jacking will not fill in surface holes (like potholes) because the slurry is not meant to be a surface material, it 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, 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.

sunken concrete slab
This can be saved!

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 might not be the best 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.

How Mud Jacking is Done (Process)

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

drilling holes
Prepping holes for mud jacking

Step 1. Drilling Holes

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.

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. *Terminology alert* Slurry is not a sweet and frosty treat in a cup, like the kind you get at Sonic® or Dairy Queen®. I know . . . bummer.

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.

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.

completed mud jacking project

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

Or in some cases that are not in a walkway, you can cover them up with a flower pot or other decorative item . . . follow me for more “fake it ‘til you make it” homeowner tips. *winkie face*

Pros and Cons of Mud Jacking

Mud jacking has some 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.

Pros of Using Mud Jacking to Repair Your Concrete Surfaces

  • Mud jacking is less expensive than tearing out a whole concrete surface and replacing it with brand new concrete.
  • Mud jacking takes less time than tearing out and replacing concrete too. Most jobs can be done in a half a day or one full day.
  • Mud jacking is a more eco-conscious choice because the process is to restore and reuse vs. tearing down, creating unnecessary waste, and starting over.
  • The mud jacking process is far less noisy and intrusive than a full replacement. A full replacement would require heavier, louder equipment and a lot of mess on your property. Not to mention that you have to stay away from the construction zones and might not have access to parts of your property for a while.

Cons of Using Mud Jacking to Repair Your Concrete Surfaces

  • This process will not make cracks disappear from your concrete surfaces, it will bring the cracks together and remove tripping hazards but you can still see them.
  • Mud jacking leaves behind the 2-inch round repair holes on your surface. The repair team will try to make things look as nice as possible but the circles will still be there.
  • If your concrete surface is covered with a unique tile or cosmetic top treatment, you run a risk of damage to an item that you might not have a replacement for or might not match back up perfectly when the job is complete.

What is the Price of a Typical Mud Jacking Job? (Cost)

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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. A typical job might cost between $1,200 to $2,000 in this area. 

It all 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, others might use a combination of pricing methods.

Let’s say you have a 9-foot by 12-foot patio that has sunken and needs to be lifted on one side or corner. Mud jacking the patio back into place might cost around $900. A full removal and replacement cost for that size patio would be around $1,600 or more.

Is Mud Jacking Right for Your Concrete Surface Needs?

Are the mud jack fairies speaking to you yet? Mud jacking is best for certain homeowners and 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 bumped back up into position.
  2. Tripping hazards are your main concern, a few visual crack lines 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 to make it better until it is absolutely time for a full replacement.

Are you all jacked up (can’t miss an opportunity for a mud jacking joke) and ready to get started? Maybe you have a few more questions first? Anchor Foundation Repair provides mud jacking services and can talk with you about it and get you a quote on the repair.

“Mud jacking is fantastic, but it is not a fix-all. I know the driveways and surfaces we can’t repair and will let you know upfront and transparently if yours is a good candidate or not.”

-Craig Tripp, President, Owner, CEO, Foundation Repair Extraordinaire

Our guiding principle is always to be a resource and of service to the community through our 100% transparent and honest assessment of your home and property. We are ready to advise you on what we would do if we were you to handle both foundation repair and concrete surface improvement through mud jacking.

tripping hazard sign

Reach out to us through our contact form to take the first step in getting a quote from us and on your way to getting your concrete surfaces back in line.