How to Paint Concrete

A couple coats of paint can work wonders to spruce up concrete. Unpainted, concrete can be dull and grey looking. It adds nothing to interior or exterior design. Nevertheless, with a little hard work, you can completely transform that ugly concrete so that it becomes an integral part of any decor. Painting concrete is an affordable way to upgrade your floors, walls or ceilings.

It’s not hard to learn how to paint concrete, but it does require a significant time investment. Concrete is harder to paint than drywall, and it requires several more steps. If you’re planning on painting a concrete floor or indoor wall, you’ll need a brush, brush cleaner, a roller, primer/sealer, paint, trisodium phosphate (TSP), a bucket, scrub brush and a mop. If you are painting an exterior wall, a power washer will cut down on a lot of cleaning time. If you painting over a surface that has already been painted, you’ll need a scraper and a wire brush to scrape of old, flaking paint. Vacuum up all of the paint you scrape off.

A thorough cleaning of the surface to be painted is very important. It is crucial to remove any oil or grease from the surface. Large grease stains can be absorbed in part by kitty litter and then scrubbed out with the TSP solution using either a mop, a scrub brush or both. Be sure to rinse the floor thoroughly and let it dry for several days.

If you have any cracks or holes in your concrete, fix them before you paint. You can use a concrete patch, or hydraulic cement, to smooth over any rough surfaces or holes. Consult the manufacturers recommendations for how to apply the concrete patch and how long it should dry before being painted.

Before you begin painting a concrete floor, make sure the concrete is completely dry and free of leaks. You can test this by taping down pieces of plastic to the concrete so that they are air tight around the room. Leave them overnight and check to see if any condensation formed. If so, your concrete has not been properly sealed and needs to be before you can continue. You can apply a sealer yourself, or have a professional do it for best results. Sealers can be found at local hardware stores. Once your concrete is in good condition for painting, you need to apply a primer. If you are unsure as to which primer to choose, ask a professional. It’s a good idea to get a primer that is compatible with your sealer.

After your concrete has been sealed, primed and allowed to dry thoroughly, you can begin painting it the color of your choice. Be sure to buy a quality paint that is concrete compatible. If you’re painting a floor, you can choose to add floor additives to the paint that will make the surface less slippery or buy special floor paint. Don’t be alarmed if the paint looks lighter than you would want at first, it will dry darker. The best way to apply the paint is in thin layers; two to four should be enough. You can either use a roller or a paint compressor. Use the brush to get into delicate areas like the part near a baseboard or window. Let it dry between coats. If you’re painting a floor, remember to paint your way out the door, otherwise you will literally paint yourself into a corner.

You can achieve different patterns in your concrete floor if you use a little creativity. Faux stone floors can be achieved if you paint on the grout lines. Different colors can be used to create vein lines common to natural stone. If you have a large room like those in a loft, you can paint different colors in different areas to create separate spaces. First, you paint an all-over color and let it dry. Then just measure and tape off each section and choose complimentary colors to fill them in.

The last step in how to paint concrete is applying a sealer if you’re painting a floor. Sealers are often noxious, so be sure to keep the area well ventilated and wear a mask. A coat or two of a quality sealer will protect your now beautifully painted floors for many years to come.