Painting Concrete and Masonry Surfaces

Painting Concrete and Masonry Surfaces

Painting Concrete and Masonry Surfaces

You can use a fresh coat of paint to bring new life to an old basement, an exterior masonry wall, brick, or even a garage floor. When properly prepared, the appearance of a concrete or masonry surface can be greatly improved with paint.

Step 1 — Clean the Surface

As with most painting projects, preparation is the biggest key to your success. If at all possible, power wash the surface. This is the fastest way to remove old paint. Use the power washer with some bleach or mildewcide if a lot of mold or algae are present. You may be working inside, or in a place where the mess of a power washer isn’t appropriate. If thats the case, tackle that old loose paint with a scraper and a wire brush.

Step 2 — Make any Repairs

If you have any defects in the surface to repair, use a simple, ready mix concrete patch to make those repairs after you clean it. Refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations when trying to assess how long the patch should dry before being painted.

Step 3 — Select Your Paint

When choosing your paint, the most important thing to keep in mind is location. Where is the paint going to be applied? The need for interior and exterior paints is fairly self-explanatory. Additionally, many manufacturers make specific masonry paints. Some are even designated as floor paints, so you shouldn’t have a hard time finding what you need. There are also additives for your floor paint that give it a little bit of texture or grip. This material is inexpensive and doesn’t change the color, but does prevent the slip that can occur when wet feet hit a slippery floor. Some kits come with decorative chips that are added as the paint is applied.

If you are using an oil based paint and primer, you need mineral spirits or paint thinner to clean your brushes, and most likely yourself.

Step 4 — Seal and Prime

Almost any masonry surface needs to be both sealed and primed before the paint is applied. The sealer is often clear, but keeps moisture from coming through the concrete. This is especially true in basements, which tend to hold moisture anyway. If you are not sure whether your basement has been sealed or not, tape all four sides of a square of plastic kitchen wrap onto the floor and leave it for 24 hours. If the floor hasn’t been sealed, you will see condensed water between the plastic wrap and the floor that has evaporated up through the concrete.

Painting Concrete and Masonry Surfaces

Check with a paint store or your local home improvement stores paint department when selecting your products. Buy a quality masonry sealer and a primer that complements it. Use the two step process of sealing and priming to build a strong, water resistant foundation for your paint.

Step 5 — Paint the Surface

After your sealer and primer coats are completely dry, apply the paint. Use a paint brush to do detail work, as around windows and trim or baseboards. You also need a brush for cutting in along the walls when painting a floor. Use a roller to do the bulk of the painting. Make sure to read the manufacturer’s recommendations as to what size nap to use. At least -inch or 1-inch nap is recommended. Buy at least three covers, for the sealer, the primer and the paint.

Apply several thin coats, rather than trying to apply one very thick coat, as paint actually forms a harder surface when thin coats are laid on top of each other. One thick coat often results is a gummy or soft surface. This drying thoroughly is often called curing. It means that the paint has dried through all the layers down to the original surface. Paint dries to different thicknesses, or mils, depending on its sheen and makeup. The thicker the mil of the paint, the longer this process can take. Paint applied to floors or walls in basements may have a longer curing cycle.

After your final coat of paint is applied, allow the paint to cure for the recommended time. If the paint is on the floor and you don’t let it dry long enough, it may dry with footprints that will never go away.

Painting a masonry or concrete surface, be it walls or floors, inside or out, can give new life to your home. A space that may once have been dank and dirty can now be bright and clean. You can actually increase the amount of livable space you have just by adding some paint.


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