Painting Concrete Floors: The Basics
When most people think of flooring, they picture things like carpet, wood flooring, tiles, and other common floor coverings. There are other options available to homeowners though, including concrete floors. While concrete was once seen mostly in places like basements and garages, it’s becoming increasingly common in the main floor of homes as well. Concrete flooring with built-in radiant heating systems is becoming a lot more popular, especially in areas that tend to have more severe winters.
Some people think that concrete flooring is limited in its decorative options, assuming that the only thing you can do with concrete is apply a sealant or stain. There are other options available, though, including painting the concrete. But be careful before just slapping a coat of paint onto a concrete floor; there are a few things that you should know first.
Prepping the Surface
One of the biggest problems that people have with concrete floors is trying to paint them without having adequately prepped the concrete surface first. In order for paint to adhere to concrete well, the surface needs to be rough enough for the paint to get a good hold, and it also needs to be clean and dry. This can mean a little more prep time than some other types of flooring, but the end results are definitely worth it.
Seal any cracks in the concrete with concrete filler, then sweep the concrete to remove any dust or loose debris. Scrape off any old paint or other materials that are stuck to the floor. Wet the floor with a sprayer or mop, then apply a concrete degreaser and scrub the surface with a stiff-bristled broom to clean it. Rinse well and clean up any excess water with a wet/dry vac so that the surface can dry completely before you start painting.
Painting and Sealing
Once your floor is completely dry, it’s very important to put down at least one or two coats of primer that’s designed for use with concrete before you actually start painting. Tape off all of the baseboards and other areas that you want to protect, then start applying your primer at the edges and work toward the middle. Try to get each coat applied in a single painting session, as you don’t want to let the primer dry in patches that will show through in the final paint application. Allow each coat a chance to dry completely before starting on the next, waiting up to 24 hours if necessary to ensure that it’s fully dry.
Once you’ve applied your primer, it’s time to start painting. Use a concrete-friendly epoxy paint and follow the same application instructions that you used with the primer. Get good coverage along all of the edges before moving in toward the center and allow each coat a chance to dry completely. Once your paint is completely dry, apply a concrete sealer and follow the manufacturer’s directions to ensure that it cures properly. Ventilation and proper masking are especially important for this step, as come sealers can release fumes that you don’t want to breathe.
Understanding the Project Scope
Painting concrete floors can be intimidating because the process is a bit more involved than your standard paint job. If care isn’t taken to ensure that the floor is properly cleaned beforehand and sealed afterward then you can end up with bubbles and peeling paint down the road. Getting all of your materials together before the job starts and following all material instructions will save you a lot of trouble in the long run, since you won’t have to stop to go get something or run into issues with improperly applied coats.