Painting concrete is trickier and takes more work than painting other surfaces like drywall and wood. It’s because concrete transports moisture, absorbs paint and it expands and contracts to depend on the environment’s temperature, so you need heavy-duty paints compared to your usual. Concrete areas that are usually painted include indoor concrete floors (such as garage and basement floors), concrete walls and outdoor floors like patios and pool decks.
There are many different types of paint that can last on concrete include acrylic, epoxy paint, oil-based paint, elastomeric paint, and epoxy resin – but the best type of paint to use depends on what type of surface you are going to use it on. The type of surface is always the first thing to consider.
Concrete floors are porous and produce dust easily due to wear and abrasion. Regular acrylic paint would not stick well, but you may use latex acrylic for a stronger bond. However, you may need to retouch latex paint about once every year depending on how much traffic the floor may receive. Oil-based paints also tend to be slippery.
It is better to choose concrete epoxy floor paints on concrete floors since it is more durable – although it’s a little more expensive. When painting concrete walls also, don’t be tempted to use epoxy wall paint as well for the floor, because wall paints do not have non-slip additives like those intended for the floor. One-part epoxy paint is the concrete floor paint to pick since you would need something that is more resistant to oil, chemicals, chipping, stains, molds, and mildew. This works great on garage floors because it also resists peeling and hot tire pick up. But if you want a stronger paint, especially for garage floors and driveways, you may want to choose two-part epoxy floor paint.
Water-based epoxy paint is durable enough for flooring on the home interior if properly applied. Epoxy resin is the most durable choice, but it comes with a more expensive price. It is great for garage floors and even outdoor surfaces because it lasts longer and leaves your concrete floor less slippery.
If you want a shiny, glossy finish, you may choose a polyurethane coat. You may also opt for concrete staining, if painting the surface would not be ideal.
Paint for concrete walls is similar to concrete floor paint, but it does not have extra additives floor paints have. That makes concrete wall paints cheaper than concrete floor paints. For concrete wall blocks, acrylic latex paint is the material to go. Another great choice for concrete walls is elastomeric wall paint, the type of paint you also use for bricks or other types of masonry because it has binders that allow paint to expand and contract with concrete.
Patios, pool decks, and other concrete outdoor surfaces
For outdoor surfaces, you need the types of paint that would make the concrete non-slippery and water-resistant. It must also be tough and durable enough to resist UV radiation, extreme temperature, chemicals and wear and tear. For most outdoor surfaces, you can use good epoxy concrete floor paints and acrylic epoxy coatings, but it is better to use specialized paints and coating systems for these types of surfaces. For a better result, look for patio floor paint when you need to paint your patio, and pool deck paints or coating system when you need to work on your pool deck. For patios, it’s also nice to use concrete color stain because it creates an ideal outdoor look.
How to Paint Concrete
You need to take some time, effort and work to paint concrete successfully, but it’s not a difficult job you cannot do. In other painting jobs would take only less than a day or two, painting concrete would need a week to do all the preparation before you can begin to actually paint the surface. Here are some general steps needed when painting concrete surfaces – be it floors or walls, slabs or bricks.
1. Clean the surface.
Make sure that the surface is thoroughly clean before painting. No, wiping off walls or scrubbing off floors with soap won’t do the trick – you need help from tougher cleaner solutions. If there are moss growing on the surface, yank it off and use a pressure washer to remove remaining roots and dirt. If there are old, flaking paint, you need to remove them all first using a paint scraper or elbow grease or power washer. Then you can use trisodium phosphate (TSP) to effectively wash the surface and remove dirt and grease. You may also need to etch the surface with a mild solution of muriatic acid (it’s better to do this outdoors; when doing this indoors, you need a lot of ventilation).
2. Seal the concrete.
You must check if the surface doesn’t allow moisture to penetrate. To test this, tape a piece of plastic to the floor, tape all the edges and leave it for a day or two. If any condensation forms under the plastic, you need to seal the surface first. To prevent moisture from seeping in and molds from forming – thus to also prevent your paint from being ruined in the future – you may use a concrete sealer or a masonry sealer. It also helps patch cracks on your concrete.
3. Apply a primer.
After sealing (or after cleaning, if the surface doesn’t need sealing), you must fill out pores and even out the surface of the concrete before painting. It is recommended that you use a primer that is made for use with the paint you will be using. You may use different kinds of primers such as acrylic, epoxy, polyurethane or silane penetrating sealer.
4. Paint the concrete.
When the primer has dried, you can apply the concrete paint in a number of thin layers until you achieve full coverage. You have to let it dry for a day in between coats, and you’d probably need two to three coats.
5. Add finishing coat.
For the finishing touch, add a concrete paint sealer to protect your paint job and help it last longer. Apply a single coat or two.
Concrete painting tips
Here are some few points you need to bear in mind when doing your DIY concrete painting project:
- Always follow any product’s instructions on use. Whether or not you have used a specific cleaning agent or paint before or not, you should always check how it must be used or applied during a specific job. If you are unsure or are confused, ask the dealer so that you may have a better idea on how to use it.
- Wear safety gear like gloves, boots, masks, safety glasses, etc. to prevent harming yourself during the painting process. When dealing with harsh chemicals like muriatic acid, protect yourself at all times because it can cause instant skin burns.
- Ensure adequate ventilation at all times. Products may emit strong odors.
- Keep other people, children, and pets away from your work area as you perform your painting job, as well as during letting it dry.
- Check the long-range weather forecast before you start with your concrete painting project. As you have read, some steps require drying and waiting for days.
If painting or putting any protective and/or decorative coat to your concrete floor won’t be applicable – it’s when the surface is damaged, cracked, too porous or would require too much work to prepare to be painted properly –use concrete stain instead. Concrete stains are similar to wood stains. They could change the surface’s color, but they can only add a translucent layer as compared to the opaque, fault-hiding coating paints can provide.
HC staining jobs aren’t for the occasional DIY painter. You might want to consider a professional and spare yourself some trouble. If you’re a go-getter DIY and want to see what you can do – give it a try!