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How to Choose and Paint Concrete the Correct Way

How to Choose and Paint Concrete the Correct Way

Choosing & Painting Concrete is a time-consuming and confusing job. Luckily we have a step-by-step procedure for you.

The general way to choose paint is by aligning what we want and what we get in the market. Always choose paints by comparing product features, paint base, warranty, coverage, dry time, etc.

We recommend following manufacturing specifications for application as slight variations exist according to the brands. 

The general way to apply paint to masonry is by Cleaning the concrete surface thoroughly, patching, and sanding as needed. We Acid etch the surface to open concrete pores and add primers. After the primer sets, we generally apply two coats of paint on concrete.

We can finish the paint job with a universal paint sealer for additional protection.

How to Choose Paint for Concrete Surfaces

Choose Paint for Concrete Surfaces

The go-to paint to buy is masonry paint (elastro-metric paint), as it is made for masonry surfaces like bricks concrete. These paints are specifically made to adhere to coarse surfaces and contain binders that contract and expand with the concrete surface.

When buying paint, research the industry leaders of paint around your area or country. There will be plenty of off-shelf brands that you can find at local hardware stores, but we recommend investing in big brands. The warranties and research companies put into their products will be better.

Some of the popular brands in the market are Dulux, Crown, McPherson, Sandtex, Earthborn, Farrow, Johnstone, etc. 

Concrete or masonry paint will generally be differentiated by interior or exterior use. Price ranges typically from 30 pounds to 100 pounds.

In terms of color, we do not want concrete paints to be too bright. The best results come with neutral colors. In the end, it depends on the customer’s need, but we recommend neutral tones of gray, blue, Gardenia, Magnolia, oatmeal, etc.

 If you want a specific shade, most big companies provide mixing options.

Factors to Consider While Choosing Paint

Choosing the right paint
  • Finish: Choose smooth, textured, or matt options according to preference.
  • Coverage: Generally, around 5-20 squared meters per liter (range will vary according to the smoothness of surface). A greater coverage area is beneficial for you.
  • Number of Coats Required: Generally, around 2-3 coats is enough.
  • Dry Time: Most paints have a dry time from 1-3 hours for touch dry and 4-6 hours for recoat wait time.
  • Specific Product Features: Check features like UV resistance, Rainproof, Flexible Paint Film, Dry time, slip resistance, etc
  • Health & Safety: Some paints are completely environmentally friendly, whereas some have allergic properties, harmful to aquatic lives, and other hard chemicals which release large volatile organic compounds. Companies are required to showcase their health & safety guidelines.
  • Durability: It generally ranges around 10-20 years.
  • Product warranty: Generally, around six months to a year with terms and conditions. It mostly covers molds, flaking, etc.

Types of Paint Base

Types of Paint Base

Paints will be based on either of the following types:

  1. Water-Based (Recommended for Indoors)
    • These paints tend to be more breathable and user-friendly.
    • Water-based paint produces less volatile organic compounds compared to solvent-based paints.
  2. Solvent Based (Recommend for Outdoors)
    • They contain higher levels of organic compounds in comparison.
    • Solvent-based paints are more durable.
    • Solvent-Based paints have better stain-blocking qualities.
    • Braces weather conditions more gracefully.
    • Most of them have hard chemicals that release volatile organic compounds, which are toxic. Always check VOC standards before buying paints.

Note: You can buy specific paints for specific areas of the house. Manufacturers generally separate garage floor paints, patio paint, basement-specific paint, etc.

How to Paint Concrete?

Follow the procedures below to maximize results.

Tools Required

  • Stiff bristled Brush (Nylon)
  • Concrete Floor Cleaners/degreasers/etching solutions
  • Concrete Patch Compound
  • Mop, Nylon-Bristled Brush/Broom
  • Trowel
  • Scraper
  • Bucket
  • Dustpan or Vacuum Cleaner
  • Concrete Primer
  • Paint
  • Paint Brush
  • Paint Roller
  • Paint Roller Handle or Extender (optional)
  • Paint Tray
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Non-Slip Additives
  • Suitable protective Gloves, Masks, Clothing & Eye Protection

Prepare the Concrete Floor

Always follow the instruction manual given by the paint company, as there will be variations on preparation procedures, application, coating requirement, etc.

We highly emphasize this because most brands provide a warranty card with a check-off list for future warranties.

  • Remove all the items on the concrete floors.
  • Always check the surface for moisture. Lay a plastic sheet on the intended surface and seal it with tape. Leave the sheet overnight and see if the sheet collected any moisture. If moisture is present, stop everything and ask for professional help.
  • Start by sweeping out and rinsing all the dust and debris from the concrete surface. Remove any concrete stain, contamination, laitance, protruding nails, oil, grease, adhesive material, shuttering oil, efflorescence, etc. We recommend using concrete degreasers and fungicidal washes for concrete.
  • Any areas in contact with the concrete floors that do not require paint should be covered up with masking or painter’s tape. E.g., base trimmings of walls, door edges, etc.
  • Any lumps or bumps that make an uneven concrete floor should be scraped away.
  • Check for any cracks holes that might need repair. We can seal these holes with patch compounds or commercial concrete fillers. Make sure these areas are even after they are filled. We recommend a trowel to scrape the uneven patches. Ensure these patches are completely dry before moving on to the next step. You may need to sandpaper these areas to maintain the level.
  • We recommend sanding the area with an orbital or drum concrete sander if the concrete is extremely uneven. Expect a lot of dust, so make sure you have proper masks. Sweep and rinse with soapy water after sanding and let the floor dry completely.
    sanding the area for paint

Check Weather Forecast Before Painting

Suppose you are painting an outdoor concrete surface. Please check the weather forecast. Paint generally needs 24-48 hours to dry. The dry time may differ according to the brand and type of paint you use. Only opt for this DIY project if the weather is forecasted to be clear.

Strip Old Paint


We recommend stripping as much old paint as possible. If the surface has not been painted previously, move on to the next step. Remove all loose, peeling, or flaking paint. Use scrapers or concrete-compatible sandpapers for walls. For floors, you can use sanding machines or pressure washers.

Etch the Concrete

We need to etch the concrete to open the concrete pores. The concrete won’t hold the primer or paint if it is too smooth. There are plenty of commercial etch mixtures found in the market; pick any one of them.

These solutions are acidic. Most paint brands will recommend a etch mixture or manufacture their etching solutions. Please follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the dilution ratio.

After applying the etching solution, you will need to scrub the concrete with the nylon-bristled broom. Please use respirators, gloves, and full-sleeved clothing during this process. The solution can easily harm you. Rinse the area at least 2-3 times thoroughly before moving on. The etched concrete should feel like 100-150 grit sandpaper.

Please note manufacturer will specify the wait time after using the etching solution. The general norm is 24 hours. After the concrete is dry, try dropping a few droplets of water on the surface, the water should penetrate quickly.

Prime the Concrete 

We need to add at least one layer of primer on the concrete surface before starting the painting coats. Primer is extremely important as this has the following functions:

  • It helps to fill small gaps, voids, and pores.
  • Primers work as a bonding agent between paint and concrete and properly let the surface take in the paint.
  • It extends the life of the paint on concrete.
  • Primers also help in neutralizing the previous color on concrete.

Follow manufacturing specifications regarding application and wait time as brands offer different primers and coating requirements. The manufacturer will specify compatible primers while buying the paint.

The general norm is two coats of primer for painting over old color or outdoor areas. The primer coat needs to dry completely before a second coat is applied.

Some brands have masonry paint with two-in-one features of both paint and primer. It entirely depends on the product you buy. Masonry paint with built-in primer does not need additional primer preparation coating.

Apply the First Coat of Paint

Apply the First Coat of Paint

Always start with the corners and paint them first with a paintbrush for accuracy. We can paint other areas with paint rollers.

Pick the farthest side of the concrete space and work towards the exit for concrete floors. We do not want to step on the freshly painted surface.  

Scrape Away Any Imperfections

After the first coat, remove lumps and bumps protruding from the surface. This protrusion doesn’t always happen but will most likely occur. Take this time to scrape away any imperfection. Use your scraper to remove all the bumps or sand it with sandpaper if necessary.

Please clean all dust and debris from the surface after completing the process.

Apply the Second Coat of Paint

Two coats of paint are compulsory for a good paint job. The third coat is optional, depending on the depth of color you need or the manufacturing specification.

For concrete floors, you will need slip-resistant additives for traction later. Some paints have built-in additives. If the paint does not have it, you will need to add some manually. If you are doing epoxy paints, we will also need to add color flakes for decorative purposes.

Let the Paint Dry Completely

Follow manufacturer specifications on the wait time of paint drying. A general estimation is 24 hours before stepping on the paint. Different types of paint can have different intervals of wait time. After the paint has dried, take off all the masking tape.

Apply TopCoat if Specified by Manufacturer

Apply topcoats if advised by the manufacturer. Some paints like epoxy need it; other general paints may not need it. It entirely depends on the brand and paint type.

If you use epoxy paints, the brand will most likely specify a topcoat in clear and pigmented form. We recommend urethane ones as they are stronger. Please follow manufacturing specifications for the application and the amount to be applied.