Painting concrete floors can add new luster to a room or garage, and with texturing added, make heavily trafficked or wet areas safer too. A coat of paint can often add light and warmth to a drab utility area, and paint can also disguise flaws and conceal grease spills and discoloration.
Supplies You Will Need
Having the supplies you need on hand before you begin will make painting less frustrating. Preparing and painting concrete can be a multi-step process, so it's important to read the directions on the products and supplies you purchase for safety precautions, proper curing times, and optimal working temperatures. Because some concrete painting may require multiple coats, be sure to plan ahead, and paint when you know you can give the floor plenty of time to dry before walking on it.
Floors that are dirty, oily and discolored will have to be cleaned thoroughly before painting. One of the best products for this kind of job is trisodium phosphate (TSP), a heavy duty cleaner that will help extract grease and grime from concrete. When using it, be sure to protect metal, wood, and glass surfaces, and wear goggles and gloves. This is an effective, but caustic preparation, so read the manufacturer's directions and follow them. You can also usually add bleach to TSP preparations to remove mold and mildew while you're cleaning and degreasing.
If you are working on a floor that has been painted before, you'll have to remove any old, flaking paint. When working outdoors, a pressure washer works great for this. For interior areas, you may have to resort to using a scraper, sandpaper and wire brushes to do the job. While you're scraping, remember, the new paint will only adhere well if all the loose paint has been removed.
There are additives that result in a slightly gritty or pebbled finish to paint. This can be useful in areas that get wet, like around sinks or exterior doors, or in areas frequented by children, animals or the elderly because it provides traction and helps people avoid slips and falls.
Concrete surfaces need to be primed before being painted. Some newer painting products designed for concrete and flooring have primer blended right in. These products are available at most home improvement stores, but will typically be more expensive.
Concrete is porous, and can be damp, particularly in basements. To reduce humidity, condensation and efflorescence, apply sealer to concrete floors before painting.
There are a number of paints available on the market that can be used on concrete floors. Some are designed specifically for concrete flooring and others are deck or swimming pool paints that will also work well for concrete floor applications. There are even two-step paints that incorporate painting and bonding features.
With so many to choose from that will work separately, or blend priming, texturizing and bonding features, there are a couple of things to consider. When selecting a paint for your needs, keep in mind that easier methods, like those using latex paint, will involve less clean up, but won't be as long wearing as methods using epoxy paints that will require paint thinner and a more involved cleanup process. Often what you gain in convenience and lower cost, you will lose in longevity. For low traffic areas, this might not be an issue, but for high visibility, high traffic locations where appearance and long wear are important, be sure that the products you choose have priming, durable paint and moisture sealing features.
Rollers, Brushes, and Tape
These essentials for most paint jobs will be important when painting concrete floors too. Although you can use a sprayer, a brush and roller will help you control the application of paint better and avoid drips and spills. Be sure to choose a roller cover with a low nap that's recommended for concrete, and make sure to select a comfortable handle that's a good length for the way you plan on painting, either standing or kneeling. As with painting on walls, you'll want to mask the area around the base of the walls, and protect pipes and other obstructions with painter's tape.
Tips for Painting Concrete Floors
For your paint to adhere well and cure properly, you'll need to do some prep work. This can be the most labor-intensive part of the process. The harder you work to get the floor ready, the more professional the end result will look.
- Clean the floor thoroughly. This includes greasy spots. The cleaner the floor, the better the paint will stick. After cleaning, give the concrete plenty of time to dry.
- Patch and fill any cracks, holes or depressions, then sand them smooth.
- Use painter's tape to protect areas where the floor meets walls and other features in the room like posts or pipes.
- Apply primer to the floor using even, overlapping strokes from a brush or roller. Cut out from the walls as you would when painting on a vertical surface. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for curing time.
- Once the primer has dried, apply paint using the same method. This is the time to include any additives, like texturizing. For good coverage, consider applying two coats of paint, allowing for enough curing time in between to make sure that the first coat has dried completely. If the paint isn't allowed to cure between coats, the floor could remain tacky for days, even longer.
- Apply a sealer according to the manufacturer's directions.
Note: Some paints incorporate one or more features, like primers or sealers, into a single product.
If you're tired of looking at grease spots, or that dull, gray concrete floor is destroying the design of your room, give it an updated look with a little imagination and some paint.