Concrete floors are a durable, sturdy surface that’s ideal for heavy foot traffic. But leaving concrete in its natural gray state is dull and unattractive.
Not to worry, because a coat of paint can spruce up concrete floors and give them new life. This how-to guide will walk you through painting your concrete floors, from materials and tools to picking the suitable paints and breaking down the entire step-by-step process.
Materials and Tools to Paint Your Concrete Floors
When getting ready to paint your concrete floors, the first thing to do is ensure you all have all the right tools and materials handy. Having to stop in the middle of your process can result in time delays and a poor paint job. Read through this list carefully and mark off the boxes once you’ve checked that you have each piece.
- 3” Heavy Duty Chisel Extension Pole Scraper
- Extension pole
- Stiff bristle push broom
- Steel wire brush (6 ¾” and 9”)
- Chemical resistant gloves
- Protective eyewear
- Protective clothing
- Wet/dry vacuum
- Pump sprayer
- Caulking gun
- Putty knife (2”)
- Painter’s tape
- 100 grit sandpaper
- Paint roller kit (4 piece works best)
- Additional roller covers
- Concrete degreaser solution
- Rust remover solution for masonry
- Paintbrush and roller cleaner
Selecting Concrete Paint Type
When choosing paint for your concrete floors, there are two suitable options. You can choose acrylic latex or epoxy paint.
Acrylic latex is a water-based paint that spreads quickly over concrete and other masonry surfaces. This paint is excellent for DIY due to the ease of application.
This type of paint is also budget-friendly. But it’s not as durable as epoxy, requiring touch-ups and reapplication more frequently (every two to three years). Some options have mixed-in particles that create a non-slip surface.
Another suitable choice for concrete floors is epoxy paint. This material is more durable and lasts longer compared to acrylic paints. This paint will give your floors a glossy shine with tiny flakes for color while being rock hard to resist impacts, water, and stains.
Epoxy paint is more expensive and more time-consuming to use. The application requires mixing the epoxy resin with a hardener and then spreading it over the floor. It can be challenging to apply, especially when in a thicker concentration.
Considerations for Choosing the Best Paint for Concrete
To help you decide which paint is best for your area, consider the following factors. These criteria will help you pick a paint that lasts.
First, consider where you’ll be painting your concrete floors. If you are painting an outdoor concrete floor, such as patios or parking pads, you’ll want to be sure to pick a paint specifically designed for outdoor or exterior use.
You’ll also want to consider what colors you want. Epoxy paints give you a better range of colors and effects due to color flakes that enhance the base color.
You’ll also want to decide if you want a floor that will have a glossy, shiny appearance or if you prefer a more dull look that blends rather than shines. Polished surfaces are great for reflecting light, making your space look brighter and bigger. The smooth surface will also be easier to clean while hiding scuffs and scratches.
Epoxy paints will have a natural gloss that you can quickly repair with a buffer once they start looking dull. However, glossy floors can be slippery as they don’t absorb moisture. If you’re going with a shiny look, make sure the paint has non-slip properties.
Another critical point is how easy the material will be to clean up during and after applying. Cleanup is easier with latex paints compared to epoxy.
Latex is a water-based paint, making it simple to clean your tools and hands with soap and water. To clean up after painting with epoxy, you’ll need to use harsh chemicals.
Soap and water work for cleaning painted surfaces for latex and epoxy floors. Epoxy’s more durable resistance against mild cleaning makes it stand up better against regular cleanings. In contrast, latex paints will start to break down over multiple washes.
A huge factor of your paint should be the lifespan. Due to the degree of difficulty of painting concrete floors (having to remove furniture and prep the area), many people prefer paint that will last a long time.
Latex paints typically last two to three years before needing a new coat applied. On the other hand, epoxy paints last a long time before needing recoating.
Design Options for Painted Concrete Floors
There are many design options available when painting concrete floors. Many people have the disillusion that you’re stuck with one solid plain color. But as this section will show, you have many different options for painting concrete floors.
If you want to have a simple floor that’s quick to paint, will last for years, and doesn’t require a lot of effort, your best bet is to stick with a solid-colored floor. There are plenty of color choices available, allowing you to pick what goes best with your home design and tastes.
A solid-colored floor does not need any extra steps past what we explain in our step-by-step guide for painting the concrete floor below. Once painted, you can leave the floors bare or add some flair to your room using area rugs or other accent pieces.
Solid color floors are a great choice if you don’t want to individualize your space with unique patterns, making it more beneficial during reselling. Some buyers may turn away from homes with wild floor patterns.
And you don’t have to worry about your floor design clashing if you remodel the area, allowing you to change your design as often as you want.
Borders are a great way to give your floors separation while providing a dramatic design element. You can create a 6″ to 10″ wide border around your entire room or go smaller to create dimensional effects to break up the expanded space.
You can use borders to create the look of rugs or to make your area look more prominent. Borders can be straight lines or with intricate twists or overlaps.
To create a border, you use painter’s tape to mark off the desired area – a tape measure and chalk reel are your friends. And then paint and seal the space to ensure your design lasts.
Using stencils or patterns is a great way to give concrete floors dimension and presence. Your only limits are your imagination and patience. Since this project is so easy, a DIY beginner could do it. Stencils are affordable and can hide imperfections in your floor better than solid-colored paint.
When choosing the type of pattern you want on your floor, there’s a wide range of stencils to consider. Pick the appropriate size and design to suit your area.
Like any surface you’ll be painting, the first step is to clean your concrete and paint it your chosen base color. Once you’ve got the floors ready, use a tape measure and chalk reel to mark the center of the area (length and width-wise).
Place your stencil in your start point and secure it with painter’s tape to ensure a solid hold. Using a paint roller, roll over the stencil until the holes are full of paint. Once the paint dries, you can remove your stencil and move it to the next section. Some stencils have marks that help you line up your design better.
Once you reach the corners of your area, you may have to bend the stencil to finish the last part of the design. Be sure you cover your walls if you don’t want to get any paint splatter. You may have to tape your stencil to the wall to finish the job. Finish the job with a sealant once the paint is dry.
|Pro tip: Check out this helpful video on how to stencil concrete floors in 10 easy steps.
Concrete Painted Floor Rug
If you want to jazz up your concrete floors, consider a painted floor rug. The great thing about this option is you can get as creative as you want with patterns, size, and location. Common examples of designs include checkers, stripes, freehand, words, and stenciled floral motifs.
This option is a favorite for bathrooms, kitchens, and dining areas where having a fabric rug might be detrimental. You can use a painted floor rug to give your concrete floor style without painting the entire floor.
To paint a floor rug on your concrete surface, you’ll need stencils, stencil brushes, painter’s tape, a large paintbrush, small bottles of colored acrylic paints, and a gallon of clear concrete sealer.
Clean your concrete surface by scrubbing with a stainless steel brush and washing with a degreaser. After your surface is clean, use painter’s tape to create the border of your rug. It’s a bright idea to use a tape measure to ensure your measurements are even.
|Pro tip: Using a contractor’s L-square will help you get straight sides and square corners.
Once your perimeter is down, cover the inside area with two coats of primer or white paint. You can use a brush or roller to apply the paint. Allow for adequate drying time as listed by the manufacturer.
Next comes the fun part. Now, you create your pattern using painter’s tape, starting at the edges and working your way to the center. Once you have your design finished, start painting. Be sure to let the paint dry completely before adding tape to create new patterns. Once you’re through painting your area rug and it’s dry, add two coats of sealant.
How to Paint Your Concrete Floors (Step by Step)
This section will provide a step-by-step guide for how to paint your concrete floors. The process is simple if you’re only adding a solid color. You’ll spend the most effort on getting your floors prepped.
Before you can begin prepping your floors, you’ll need to remove everything out of the way. Take out all furniture and pull up any old carpets or flooring. It’s a good idea to wear a mask and gloves while working with old materials, which often have harmful chemicals.
Next, place masking tape along any baseboards or walls where you don’t want paint. Keep this tape handy if you’re going to create elaborate designs on your floor.
Prep the Surface
Before you can paint your concrete floors, you have to prep them. There are multiple steps to prepping your work area. You can’t be in a hurry when painting your floors if you want the best results. Any imperfections on your floor will show through the paint.
The first thing you’ll need to do is remove any gunk or mess stuck to the surface. You can use an extension scraper for small areas. But you’ll see the best results if you use a sander over the entire surface of your floor.
|Pro tip: Hydrochloric acid mixed with 4 parts water or Rust-Oleum EPOXYShield Concrete Etch are great for treating stubborn carpet glue or dirt patches.
After you’ve scraped and sanded the entire surface, use a wet/dry vacuum to remove any litter. Then wash the cleaned surface with a degreaser and rinse several times until you can mop the floor and the mop stays clean.
Vacuum up any water and allow the floor to dry for a few days before painting. Wipe the surface with a tack cloth on the day you’ll be painting to remove any collected dust or dirt.
Fill Cracks and Holes
Before you paint your floors, you’ll need to repair any holes or cracks. If left untreated, these flaws will display prominently once you’ve added a layer of paint. You’ll need a concrete patch compound found at most hardware stores, following the manufacturer’s directions for mixing.
Use a trowel to push the compound into any holes to fill them. Once dry, smooth the areas using a sander. Remember to clean the area thoroughly before moving to the next step.
|Pro tip: If there’s a lot of humidity in your area, let a humidifier run for 1-5 days to pull out the excess moisture so the paint sticks better to your surface.
Once you finish prepping your floor, it’s time to apply a layer of primer. You’ll need to add two coats, allowing each layer to dry. A paint roller with an extension handle makes the job faster and more comfortable. Use a paintbrush for corners and edges.
|Pro tip: Let the primer dry for a full 24-hours before applying paint.
Apply Epoxy Paint
After both layers of primer have dried, it’s time to paint. You can use the same extension and roller brush, making sure to use a new, clean paint roller. Or you can use a paint compressor and a spray gun.
Like the primer, you’ll need to apply two coats of epoxy paint, drying between each layer. The first layer will take at least 12 hours to dry. Depending on the color and design you hope to achieve, you may need to use more than two coats.
|Pro tip: Start painting around the edges of the room, working on the area furthest away from the entrance.
Apply a Sealant
Once you’ve achieved the desired color, you’ll need to seal your floor using a masonry sealer. You’ll want to apply multiple coats, letting each coat dry before adding another.
|Pro tip: Sealants and finishes are great ways to add character to your painted floors. Acid etching products can create patterns in your painted floors, but they can be challenging to use.
Concrete Floor Cleaning Tips
Having beautiful painted concrete floors won’t matter much if you don’t know how to clean them properly. When left uncleaned, glossy paints can start to turn dull, reducing the look of your floor’s design.
For indoor concrete floors painted, stamped, or stained, cleaning is as simple as mopping using a mild floor cleaner. Avoid using bleach, ammonia, and other acidic cleaners, as these materials can damage your surface.
Cleaning products that are safe for use on concrete floors include liquid dish soap, Castile soap, PineSol, other floor cleaning products, or stone cleaners. Mix your solution correctly and spread it out using a wet mop. Rinse the residue-free with the mop and clean water.
|Pro tip: Before mopping your floors, it’s crucial to sweep the area with a soft-bristle broom to remove any debris. Next, wipe the surface with a microfiber cloth to capture any loose hair or dust. Some people also prefer to finish the cleaning using a vacuum. Any small particles left can scratch your concrete surface.
Painted Concrete Floors FAQ
We’ll conclude this how-to guide on painting concrete floors by answering a few frequently asked questions customers have about the topic.
Can I just paint my concrete floor?
Most paints that you can use for concrete floors require a sealant overlay to protect the paint from damage. A few paints do not require sealant, but these are only for indoor use and would not last well outdoors.
Is it a good idea to paint concrete?
Painting concrete is a great way to give your room more personality and design than plain gray floors. Since it’s possible to create any design to resemble other flooring types, there’s no reason not to paint concrete floors. The sealant added over paint can even help protect your concrete from damage, making it last longer and stay looking great.
Are painted concrete floors durable?
With the correct products and processes, painted concrete floors are incredibly durable. Acrylic paints will not last as long, requiring a new coat every two to three years. But epoxy paint can handle heavy abuse (when appropriately sealed) for years to come, reducing the need for repainting. You may have to reapply a coat of sealant every few years. But if the color gets dingy, you can buff it back to brightness.
Can you paint over old paint on concrete?
To get the best results when painting concrete, you’ll want a clean, smooth surface. It’s best to remove any old paint using a sander and fine sandpaper (at least 120 grit). You can also use a scraper or treat the clumped paint with chemicals for easier removal.
Nothing gives your home character and appeal like great floors. If you have the advantage of concrete floors in your home, follow our instructions for painting your concrete floors to give them new life. Painting your concrete floors is a cheap, easy way to help your floors serve a higher purpose – improving your room’s aesthetic.