Painted concrete has its advantages. A fresh coat of paint or stain can really spruce up concrete basement or garage walls and floors and bring new life to a worn concrete patio. Concrete paints and stains help to mask surface discoloration and signs of wear and tear and they extend the life of concrete by preventing further damage. Coating a concrete surface with paint can also make for easier cleaning and maintenance, another definite plus.
So why don’t more homeowners choose to paint concrete? Painting or staining a concrete surface isn’t typically as simple as rolling a new paint color onto drywall; because porous concrete tends to absorb paint and moisture (which can keep paint from adhering), the process involves some additional prep work. But despite the extra steps, painting concrete isn’t a complicated project, and the finished product can be well worth the effort.
Clean the surface of concrete before painting
The first step in any concrete painting or staining project is to clean the surface. Paint won’t bond well to dirty, rusty or oily spots, and untreated stains can seep through the finish. Give the concrete a good scrub using a stiff brush and a trisodium phosphate solution or other degreaser and strip old, flaking paint with a wire brush. Once the concrete dries, repair any holes and cracks you find with a concrete patch kit, letting the material fully cure before continuing.
Paint adheres best to textured surfaces. Test your concrete by pouring some water on it; if the water soaks in, the concrete is porous enough to be painted. Otherwise, rough up the surface a bit with a concrete etching solution. Wet concrete isn’t paint-friendly, either. To check for excess moisture, tape a square of plastic wrap or aluminum foil to the surface for 24 hours. If condensation forms, protect the concrete from dampness with a masonry sealer before painting. Although the sealer acts as a paint primer, you may also consider applying a concrete primer to ensure strong adhesion and a smooth finish.
Select paint made for concrete
Now it’s time to paint. Select paint made specifically for concrete; masonry paints are thicker and more durable than most other types. If you’re painting a garage or patio floor, consider using an epoxy-based paint for maximum durability and stain resistance. Apply the paint with a masonry paintbrush or textured roller for fuller coverage. And if you’re working with a concrete floor, don’t paint yourself into a corner; start on the far side of the room and work toward the door.
If you choose to use an acid stain to color your concrete, the process begins the same way as a painting project: do a thorough cleaning and make the necessary repairs. Then apply the stain in an even coat with a brush or roller. (Note that concrete stain is translucent, so you may not be able to achieve the same uniform look that paint provides.) Once the stain dries, finish the job with a protective sealant layer.