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How to Paint Concrete

A grey concrete wall

Table of contents

When you think of concrete surfaces, you generally think they are all grey; however, they don’t have to be. The thought of painting concrete discourages many, but with a few steps and precautions, you could get any paint color onto your concrete surface.

Painting concrete is different from any other paint job in duration, materials, and tools. To achieve a nice finish on your exterior and interior surfaces, careful prep work is required.

However, with that being said, any paint job requires intense preparation, and you can view more guides on our website, from baseboards, siding, ceilings, and bathrooms.

So, continue scrolling down for our guide on How to Paint Concrete. Or if you fancy some ideas on how to paint your indoor concrete we have the perfect guide for you!

Picking out your Primer:

A man primer a concrete wall before applying paint- for article, how to paint concrete

If you are considering how to paint concrete, the first and most crucial step is priming your concrete, but don’t leave out deep cleaning to remove grime and efflorescence.

Whether your concrete is inside or outside, using a primer designed for concrete will give you the best possible surface to work on, as well as combat environmental factors.

Primers vary, with some being thinner for indoor use and others thicker for outdoor use. Always pick out a primer that fits your concrete surface, no matter the case.

Why should I prime?

Why Should I Prime My Concrete?
✔️ A primer creates a strong bond between the paint and correct and promotes proper adhesion
✔️ Alongside protecting your concrete, it offers protection to your paint or stain
✔️ A primer soaks into the cemented concrete, overall protecting it from environmental damage.
✔️ A primer will fill small gaps and create a smooth surface.
✔️ Transforms an unpaintable surface into one that paint can adhere to and creates a seamless surface for topcoats.
Five reasons you should prime your concrete surface before painting.

Epoxy/ polyurethane primers

These primers are robust and heavy-duty, resisting harsh environments. They are mainly used for concrete surfaces that see a lot of activity, like street pavements.

Latex primers

Latex primers are water-based and seep into concrete easily. This gives a better bond and grip to the concrete and, as a result, a more durable paint coat.

They also reduce dust and moisture build-up by filling the deeper concrete pores.

Acrylic masonry primers

These are designed to resist discoloration and efflorescence. They are used on unpainted or newly cured concrete and outdoors.

Mix your primer thoroughly before applying it with a roller on the concrete surface. This ensures even distribution and fewer streaks when painting.

Use a brush to get into the smaller crevices and corners. Doing this will also make sure the primer gets into the pores.

If you are painting over a previous layer of paint or working outdoors, applying two layers of primer is advisable.

?Hot Tip: If you have done a good job, you should not see the color of the surface underneath. Give the primer time to dry in between coats or before painting as indicated on the label.

How to Paint Concrete: Detailed Guide

STEP ONE: Remove debris, stone, and growing weeds.

Cleaning concrete isn’t as easy as cleaning other surfaces. This is because concrete has pores that accumulate dirt, grease, and grime.

Sweep away leaves, stones, and dirt till you leave the surface bare and clean.

You can yank plants from the crevices using your hands for plants with firm roots in the concrete.

STEP TWO: Use a cleaning agent

Concrete has pores that tend to accumulate grease and grime. This will ruin the paint over time.

Use ordinary soap, water, and a stiff brush to scrub thoroughly, making sure you get into cracks and crevices. Hose down the surface, though a pressure washer could help remove any remaining roots and dirt.
Most concrete cleaning agents contain TSP, or you can get TSP from your local store.

⚠️Caution: Trisodium Phosphate is a potent cleaning agent that requires proper handling and gloves.

Try not to use a chemical approach to cleaning the surface, but instead use standard household cleaning supplies as they work just as well. Use chemical cleaning agents only when you need to because they are sometimes not compatible with the binding agents and paint.

STEP THREE: Remove Efflorescence

Efflorescence is a crystalline deposit of salts formed when water present in concrete dries up at the surface with these minerals. Simply put, it’s the white stuff you see somehow growing on your concrete, mainly in damp conditions.

Efflorescence makes it harder for the paint to stick to the surface and might cause peeling with time.

Cleaning the surface and concrete edges thoroughly gets rid of efflorescence, therefore, emptying the concrete pores.

STEP FOUR: Remove existing paint- if applicable

If your concrete surface has had a previous paint job, it is essential that you remove any sealant, paint, or curing compounds. If this is not done, your paint and sealant will not settle into the concrete, and it might even peel off after some time.

Use a wire brush to rough up the paint layer and a scraper to remove any peeling paint. Try to reveal the bare concrete as much as possible, as this will give you a good surface for the paint to adhere to.

STEP FIVE: Repair the concrete

Use a concrete filler to fill in any cracks and crevices. This is to achieve an even and smooth surface for painting. A rough surface will require more primer and paint than one with uneven surfaces already filled.

Use sandpaper or a grinder to smooth out uneven surfaces. Mix some repair cement or concrete filler and fill in the cracks and large gaps.

If your concrete has brittle areas, remove and repair them, so they don’t break off with your new fresh coat of paint.

? Don’t Forget: It is important to note that you cannot paint a concrete surface less than 28 days after it’s been mixed. You need to let the concrete cure well before you paint its surface.

STEP SIX: Test the porosity and water content

The concrete surface needs to be porous enough to allow sealants, primers, and paint to bind to it.

Pour some water on the surface of the concrete. If it seeps in immediately, it is porous enough, but if it stays on the surface, you’ll need to rough up the surface a bit more.

Concrete with a lot of moisture content can cause paint to peel in patches over time. This is because the paint won’t grip the surface properly.

Tape a five-by-five-inch piece of polyethylene paper to the surface and leave it for 24 hours. If there is condensation or a wet patch underneath, you need to give the concrete more time to dry.

Water content greatly varies in outdoor projects like patios and driveways compared to indoor projects like garage walls.

If it rains, you should allow a minimum of 24 hours before painting. Therefore, it is vital to check your weather conditions and ensure that the forecast is in your favor for at least a week.

STEP SEVEN: Seal the concrete surface

Concrete allows for water movement. It is essential to seal the surface to prevent moisture from seeping in and causing efflorescence and mold growth.

This step is generally not necessary for outdoor projects due to exposure. Interior surfaces are prone to damp and cold conditions that may hold moisture content for a more extended period.

Use a roller to apply a strong masonry sealant evenly on the surface. Do not allow the sealer to accumulate in one spot by using minimal amounts on one coat.

Follow the user instructions on the label in terms of drying time and application. Some sealants, like Stormdry, need only one coat, but others might need two coats. Sealers also enhance the color of masonry projects and make them easier to clean.

STEP EIGHT: Prime the surface

Priming is essential to painting concrete as it gives the paint a surface to adhere to. It provides the concrete with an even surface to paint on by filling tiny pores, thus changing a rough surface into a smooth one.

Priming prolongs the paint coat, makes you use less paint when painting, and protects the paint and concrete.

Adding a primer will lessen the chance of efflorescence, the salt crystals that form on damp concrete. It also prevents mildew and mold from forming on the surface.

STEP NINE: Paint the surface

Due to the porous nature of concrete, other regular paints are likely to peel off as concrete expands or contracts.

Masonry paint, sometimes known as elastomeric paint or wall coating, is used on concrete. Masonry paints are specially formulated to expand and contract with the concrete.

Pour some paint mix onto a paint tray. Use a high-capacity paintbrush or roller since the concrete paint is thicker than regular paint.

Apply a thin layer of paint starting from the top when painting a wall and from the furthest corner from the exit when painting a floor. Don’t be tempted to add more paint in the first coat, as this will cause the semi-dry paint to peel off.

Add a few more layers of paint, probably one or two after 24 hours. A third coat could be added to achieve a deeper color.

For surfaces with a lot of commercial activity, give them a drying period of 7 days before clearing them for use. Give any other surfaces a 2-day drying time before putting anything on them.

What Shall I Do with My Leftover Paint?

After the painting process is complete, you should store the remaining paint for another project or dispose of the paint correctly. It is advisable to keep any leftover paint, primers, and sealants as some of these products are expensive.

Don’t put leftover liquid paint in the trash or pour it down the drain. This is because some paints are flammable, and they contain VOCs, which are toxic to both the environment and animals.

Stock your paint in a cool and dry place away from direct sunlight or heat. Before storing, wipe off any excess paint on the sides and top of the can.

?Friendly Fact: You can also donate the extra paint to a friend or group that will make use of it. If you have children, store the paint in lockable cabinets or a place they cannot access.

Cleaning your Paintbrushes

Cleaning your paintbrush and putting them in plastic bags will keep your paintbrushes newer

Take some time to wait for the paint to dry to clean your brushes. This step is critical because the paint may dry up in the brush bristles, making it challenging to paint the next coat.

Cleaning your brushes is also essential between different processes such as sealing, priming, and painting.

? Be Aware: If you don’t clean your brushes and use an unclean brush the mixture of chemicals might ruin your paint job.

Doing this is also necessary for storage purposes. The same goes for rollers used to paint.

  • Press the paintbrush into the sides of the paint can to remove excess paint from the brush. Use a newspaper to wipe off the rest of the paint to get off as much paint as possible from the brush.
  • Check the appropriate solvents for the paint: hot water for latex paint and mineral spirits for oil-based paints.
  • Dip the brush in the appropriate solvent and stir while working the bristles to get the solvent into the strands.
  • Use warm soapy water to clean the brush and any remaining paint flakes. Shake the paintbrushes dry.

Tips and Tricks for How to Paint Concrete:

  • If you are painting using a spray gun, use one suitable for the job, as concrete paint is thicker and might clog the nozzle.
  • Remember not to end up cornered when painting interior floors!
  • After drying, use a scraper or sandpaper to remove surface imperfections in the paint layer. Paint lightly to cover the blemishes.
  • When painting the second layer of paint, you can squeeze the roller or paintbrush to get paint into holes the first coat didn’t reach.
  • Don’t use a screwdriver to open up paint cans as this might bend the lid making storing your leftover paint hard.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I paint in one thick coat?

It is advisable to paint in layers to allow the paint to settle. Painting one thick layer gives the surface a thick, sticky finish that peels off when under point pressure or when scratched.

Can I paint my asphalt driveway?

Don’t paint your asphalt driveway, even if you’ll follow the steps above. Asphalt is oil-based and will make the paint chip or peel off.

How can I make my concrete floor non-slip?

Painted concrete floors are slippery due to the primer or sealant that evens the surface.
You add four parts of paint to one part of sand and evenly mix it to give your surface some grip.

Can I add sand to masonry paint?

Adding sand gives a textured look for walls and provides a non-slip grip for floors.
It is important to mix the sand and paint in the right proportions to have a good finish.

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