How to Paint Concrete Floors

how to paint concrete floors
Easy painting with concrete floor enamel.

If you know how to roll paint on a wall, then you already know how to paint concrete floors. The difference between painting concrete and painting other surfaces is the prep work. It also requires a different kind of paint, specially formulated for concrete surfaces. Painting concrete is the quickest, easiest, and least expensive way to enhance a concrete surface.

If the floor already has a coat of paint, you should remove it first. It's not necessary, but your new coat of paint will adhere better to the bare concrete and, therefore, last longer. At least scrape up or sand down any loose or flaking areas.

It's also a good idea to perform a moisture test on the floor. Tape a 2' x 2' piece of plastic to the floor and wait 24 hours. If there is any condensation under the plastic, you have some moisture coming up through the slab. In this case, I would recommend using a colored concrete sealer rather than a paint. Sealer is more breathable which allows vapor to pass through.

Clean the floor thoroughly using a mild detergent. Remove any stains by doing spot cleaning with special cleaners such as degreasers for oil and grease.

For better adhesion of the paint, it's a good idea to acid etch the floor with diluted muriatic acid (8 parts water:1 part acid). This opens up the pores creating a rougher profile. Then neutralize the floor with diluted ammonia (8 parts water:1 part ammonia) to get the floor back to the right pH level.

Patch any holes, divots, and chips with a vinyl concrete patch. Read and follow the directions on the package for mixing. Apply with a trowel and scrape it flush with the floor. Let this dry for at least 12 hours. Some deeper holes may need to be patched twice due the shrinkage of the first application.

Cracks can be treated and filled using an epoxy crack filler. Epoxy needs to dry at least 24 hours before applying paint.

painting concrete floors with epoxy
Applying 2 part water based epoxy.

Now it's time to paint and time to choose the right type of paint. You may need a primer, but some manufacturers combine primer and paint in one can. Cut the edges with a brush just like you would a wall. Roll the rest of the floor with a 1/4 inch nap roller. Apply a second coat as soon as the first one is dry. Two thin coats is better than one heavy coat. If you need slip resistance, there are additives that can be mixed in the paint.

Maybe the best advice I can give when explaining how to paint concrete floors is get a quality paint. Like most other products, you get what you pay for.

Enamel vs Epoxy

Enamel is a type of acrylic paint that is harder than a regular latex, but not as hard and strong as epoxy. The benefits are lower and ease of use. If this is a floor that doesn't get much heavy use, then enamel may be the right choice for saving time and money. However, for a garage floor that's going to get abused with vehicles, spilled chemicals, kids bikes and toys, etc., then epoxy is going survive much longer. It's a stronger coating and much more chemical resistant, but with higher a cost and requires a little more effort.

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