Painted Concrete: Floors, Walls, And More

Ever wondered how to paint concrete walls? Give your concrete surface a new look by painting it – its actually pretty easy. Concrete stairs, walkways, and patios will look like new with a fresh coat of paint and score you a lot of points for curb appeal.

It can be boring to build with all that gray concrete, but it is an inexpensive, durable building material. The surface of almost any concrete structure can be painted or stained, including walkways, stairs, brick walls, basements, and garages. 

In front-facing areas of a house, it is especially annoying to patch weathered concrete with cracks or stains that stand out. Repairs to concrete walkways and steps can be disguised by painting them. As a result, the home’s entrance will have a clean, finished look.

When it comes to preparing concrete for painting, don’t skimp. Your best results will come from cleaning and smoothing the surface as much as possible. Ensure that the cleaners and sealers you use on concrete are specially formulated. Let’s paint!

Over the course of about five days, the whole process should take about four hours of actual work. The process is not easy, but it is possible with some hard work and persistence. To paint the concrete surface, you will need to sand it, seal it, and then paint it. 

What You Need Before You Start Painting Concrete

Tools You Will Need

In terms of tools you will need, you’ll require a stiff bristle brush for scrubbing the dirt and muck out of the concrete you will treat, a putty knife to repair any existing cracks, a pole sander to level off any repair putty you use, and a few other household odds and ends like a vacuum cleaner for cleanup, a broom, etc.

For the actual painting, you will also need a paint brush or roller – both are better because a brush is good for the narrow spaces and fiddly edges that the roller can’t access. You’ll also require proper protective gear such as a mask and gloves.

Materials You Will Need

In terms of materials, you will likely need, for patching any cracks in cement before sealing and painting.

You will require vinyl concrete patching compound, sandpaper to smooth things off and a paint scraper to apply and smooth with.

Add to that concrete cleaner, degreaser, and etcher to prepare the concrete for the sealing process.

For sealing, you will need sealing primer for the concrete, and painters masking tape to make sure you don’t seal or paint anywhere you shouldn’t.

When it comes to the painting itself, look for some non-skid concrete paint. Non skid is important because a painted surface that you walk on needs to have an adequate grip to stay safe.

Steps To The Process

This is the outline of the steps it will take to get the job done:

  • Choose what type of paint to use
  • Thoroughly clean off the concrete
  • Patch any holes and cracks
  • Sand everything smooth
  • Prepare the concrete for priming and painting
  • Prime and paint concrete

Choose Type Of Concrete Paint

Make sure you choose a paint suitable for concrete or masonry. You can even get specialty concrete floor paint. Some of your paint-type choices are acrylic latex, rubberized asphalt, and epoxy. When it comes to acrylic paint, there is a large color range available to match exactly what you want – use a paint chart to get you started.

Masonry paint – elastomeric paint or elastomeric wall paint can work well for some of these types of situations when painting concrete because it contains compounds that expand and contract with the cement.

If you choose epoxy paint, it is not exactly cheap. It is the next step up in quality and durability, but it is also the next step up in cost. It is also much fiddlier to apply due to it being a two-part mixture. This is one of those times when it is good to ask your local paint expert what your best options are for exactly what you want it for.

Clean Off Concrete

The first thing you will need to know is if your concrete has previously had a sealant applied to it. If it has, then you will need to use an etching solution to remove it.

If you have areas of grease and oil that are very dense, you will need to use tri-sodium phosphate (TSP) to remove them, otherwise, your hard-earned paint job will discolor over time in those spots. You may need to get a wire brush and a little elbow grease on the job for this as well.

Use a stiff-bristle brush to remove any loose debris or concrete from areas of concern where the concrete may be loose or there is obvious debris to deal with. For an outdoor-based project, make sure you remove any weeds, moss, or lichen from and cracks in your concrete walkway that you intend to paint. If the area needs a deeper more thorough clean, such as when there is old paint to remove, use a power washer to blast away any dirt and debris from the concrete. Let the cleaned concrete completely dry before you move on to further steps.

Quick Tip: If you’re working with an interior concrete wall or floor and there are signs of water damage on it such as it is beginning to peel, painting over it will only provide a very temporary fix to the situation. It will be back to the damaged state in no time flat. The underlying problem will still be there. In this type of situation, it is best to hire a professional to check out the situation and in consultation with you, come up with a plan to fix it. Before proceeding to the next step, let the concrete dry – very well. You don’t want any issues with trapped moisture in the future.

Patch Holes And Cracks

Use a putty knife to fill in small holes and cracks with concrete compound. Make sure to follow the application and drying instructions on the packaging to let it cure correctly. Don’t worry if things are not perfectly smooth because that is what the sanding bits and pieces are for.

Related: How to level and repair cracks in a concrete driveway

Sand Smooth

Smooth any bumps or rough spots with sandpaper. It will be easier to cover more ground without bending over if you have an inexpensive pole sander. Before painting, smooth the surface as much as possible. Use a vacuum to clean up sanding residue if you’re working inside. Dust masks, protective glasses, gloves, and a dust mask should be worn.

Prepare Concrete For Paint Job

Follow the instructions on the package for cleaning, degreasing, and to etch the concrete before beginning. The concrete can be rinsed again with a power washer if necessary. It is important to read the labels on the products; some of these are sold as multipurpose or all-in-one solutions. If you need only one, you may not need the other. If you are working with any chemicals that are strong, wear protective gear.

Prime And Paint The Concrete

To ensure that exterior concrete paint dries effectively, check the weather forecast for the days you plan to paint. The concrete sealing primer should be applied to any rust spots and allowed to dry completely before painting. Because concrete is very absorbent, you must prime it before painting or your paint won’t have good adhesion. The mixture of some paints already contains bonding primer. As long as that is the case, you can begin painting immediately.

Depending on what you’re painting, choose concrete paint that has a non-skid finish. You should tape off the base of your house or wall before painting to prevent the paint from getting on the siding.

Apply a clean coat of paint to the area of your choice. To improve traction, apply a second coat of non-skid paint with grit additives.

Quick tip: Fresh concrete that has just been laid cannot be painted. Usually, after about a month or two of curing and drying time, new concrete can be painted (ask your contractor).

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