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How to Paint Concrete

Two Methods:Preparing the ConcretePainting Concrete

Interior and exterior concrete surfaces do not have to remain a flat, boring shade of gray. Concrete can be made to look interesting and beautiful by applying a few coats of paint. Painting concrete is a simple and inexpensive task that can be completed by most homeowners. In order to successfully paint concrete or other masonry surfaces you must clean and prep the area properly, apply an appropriate paint, and allow adequate time for the paint to cure.

Method 1
Preparing the Concrete

  1. Image titled Paint Concrete Step 1Bullet1
    Clean the concrete surface with soap and warm water, removing any old paint. First, sweep away any surface leaves, debris, and dirt. Then remove any existing paint or gunk using a power washer or scraper and wire brush. Scrub away any dirt, grime, or gunk that is stuck to the concrete. You do not have to worry about stains, however, if they are set in and not some sort of object stuck onto the surface.
    • Yank off any vines, moss, or other plant life covering the concrete.
    • You want the surface to be as clean and bare as possible for the best coating of paint later on.[1]
  2. Image titled Paint Concrete Step 1Bullet3
    Remove dense areas of oil or grease with tri-sodium phosphate (TSP) to ensure that the paint doesn't discolor later. TPS can be purchased at most major home improvement stores. Simply mix it with water in the ratio illustrated on the packaging and wash away any oil stains, rinsing the cleaner off when you're done. Allow the concrete surface to dry completely before proceeding with the next steps.[2]
  3. Image titled Paint Concrete Step 2
    Apply concrete patch to fix any major defects such as cracks, gouges or uneven surfaces. You want the concrete to be as smooth and regular as possible. Any breaks and cracks are places where moisture could potentially get under the paint, peeling it off your surface later on. Read the manufacturer's instructions to confirm proper drying time for the patch.[3]
  4. Image titled Paint Concrete Step 3
    Seal any indoor concrete to prevent moisture from coming through the cement. Concrete sealant is expensive, but it is the best way to ensure that you don't ruin your paint job soon after applying it. Concrete is very porous, which means trapped moisture in the concrete could rise and ruin the paint. Follow the sealant manufacturer's instructions for the proper preparation and application of the product.
    • This is not as necessary if you are painting outdoor concrete.[4]

Method 2
Painting Concrete

  1. 1
    Check the weather forecast to ensure you have 2-3 dry days in a row before painting outdoor concrete. You'll need the paint to dry overnight on the first night, then you'll be applying a second and maybe a third coat. After each coat the paint needs to dry overnight then it needs roughly 24 hours to complete dry when you're done. Do some homework, and only tackle this project when the weather is right for it.[5]
  2. Image titled Paint Concrete Step 4
    Apply 1 layer of concrete paint primer with a paint roller. Before adding your color, you need to use primer to ensure that the paint will stick. Apply a primer to the concrete to ensure strong adhesion of the paint. Again, follow the manufacturer's instructions to confirm the necessary application and drying time.
    • If you are painting over an old color, or you are working outdoors, you may have better results with 2 coats of primer. Be sure to let the first coat dry fully before applying the second.[6]
  3. 3
    Purchase the right paint for the right concrete. Your best bet, when working with concrete, is to use masonry paint, which is formulated to contract and expand as concrete changes temperature. It is sometimes sold as elastomeric paint or elastomeric wall coating. Since it is much thicker than regular paint, you need to be sure to use a high-capacity roller or brush.[7]
  4. Image titled Paint Concrete Step 5
    Apply a thin, even coat of paint using a paint roller. Start in one of the corners, or at the top of you are painting a wall, and work slowly and evenly across the entire surface. You don't need as much paint as you think in each layer -- you'll be adding 1-2 more layers once the first is done drying, so don't try and slather it all on now.[8]
  5. 5
    Return the next afternoon and apply a second coat of paint. Once the paint has dried overnight you can layer on another coat. You should add at least 1 more coat of paint, thinly, but you could add a third as well for a deeper color and a more even coating.
  6. Image titled Paint Concrete Step 6
    Let the paint dry for 1-2 days before stepping on or placing anything on the concrete. Dry the final coat of paint for at least 24 hours before moving items onto or near the newly painted concrete to ensure a smooth, professional appearance.[9]


  • Several thin coats of concrete paint will form a harder surface than one thick coat, which can result in a gummy surface.
  • Painting concrete is normally only considered when it is required to cover an existing slab. Fresh concrete should not be painted until it has cured for at least 28 days.


  • Take necessary safety precautions when using tri-sodium phosphate, as it can cause injury to your eyes, lungs and skin.
  • If painting a concrete floor, use a floor texture additive that can be stirred right into the paint to prevent falls.

Things You'll Need

  • Power washer
  • Scraper
  • Wire brush
  • Paint brush
  • Paint tray
  • Paint rollers
  • Rags
  • Tri-sodium phosphate
  • Concrete patch
  • Concrete sealant
  • Concrete primer
  • Concrete paint

Article Info

Categories: Concrete