Acrylic paint is an excellent way to add some color to surfaces creatively. It is user-friendly and easily washable if you want to change the color. The finish is also fast-drying, so you do not have to wait long between coats.
The formula is the quickest potential solution when facing a dull, gray slab. Moreover, it is affordable to buy and maintain, accommodating a tight budget and extensive, heavy-duty projects.
However, homeowners and constructors wonder if applying acrylic paint on concrete will work. So, let’s decipher the concern Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Concrete?
You can apply acrylic paint on concrete floors, walls, patios, steps, foundations, statues, and basements. However, prepare the surface before applying the finish and seal it to guarantee a durable outcome.
In addition, the finish is non-toxic and waterproofs the surface, making it suitable for interior and exterior concrete projects.
There is so much more to know about acrylic paint on concrete. So, check out this article for more insight into how to deliver a professional finish and common concerns painters have with such projects.
What Is Acrylic Paint?
This paint is water-based and fast-drying with tiny plastic resin and pigment particles. It is environmentally friendly, and the molecules fuse when dry, delivering a robust and water-resistant finish.
Acrylic paint was developed in 1934 in Germany as a water, acrylic resin, and pigment particle formula. This discovery was groundbreaking as the manufacturer could combine oils and watercolor paints that could be diluted with water.
Initially, this revolutionary formula was sold as house paint, but artists began experimenting with it as a possible substitute for oil paints and other artists’ mediums in the mid-1950s.
Acrylic paints boast easy application while delivering vibrant hues to form different textures and consistencies. Further, they have three primary components: pigment, acrylic binder, and water.
- Acrylic Pigments. These molecules add color to the formula and are usually from natural sources. But you can get synthetic pigments when necessary.
In addition, the paint’s molecules are also suspended in the solution, requiring additional ingredients to deliver a consistent finish.
- Acrylic Binder. Some pigments do not stick to the surface and need something to make them adhere. So, manufacturers include an acrylic binder in the solution to form a durable coat after the water evaporates.
- Water. Acrylic paints are water-based, and the water is the vehicle carrying other ingredients to form a polymer suspension or emulsion. The water evaporates or soaks into the workpiece, leaving a polymer film with color pigments.
The above are the dominant acrylic paint ingredients, but we have more. For instance, the pigment naturally floats on the water: thus, you need an acrylic dispersant to ensure a more consistent mixture.
Other additives for added effectiveness include
- Buffers. They maintain a proper pH level and stabilize the paint, guaranteeing a durable outcome.
- Initiators. They start the polymerization process during drying, leaving a solid acrylic paint coat.
- Surfactants and Defoamers. They aid in pigment dispersion and loading during the drying process.
- Preservatives. They prevent microorganisms such as mild and mildew from growing on the finish.
Also, you can add certain mediums after purchasing the acrylic paint. These compounds enhance and deliver other properties. For instance, add flow enhancers or fluid mediums to alter the paint’s thickness.
Understanding the science of acrylic paints is essential when using the product. Besides, although the formula is water-based and dries as the water evaporates, there is more.
Check out the other processes occurring as the paint dries and sets.
- Application. Each portion applied has perfect water, acrylic polymer, and pigment balance. Moreover, the water contains the emulsion and prevents acrylic polymers from hardening immediately.
- Evaporation. A chemical reaction occurs after applying the paint to the workpiece. Further, the suspended pigment in the acrylic polymer particles fuses and starts to dry with air exposure.
- Setting. Another reaction happens when the pigment is trapped in a hexagonal structure with clear polymer particles. The formula dries into a stable, water-resistant, permanent, vibrant film.
We have different types of acrylic paints depending on what you want to achieve with your craft or art. The paint’s viscosity also comes in various formulas to accommodate various surfaces and desired finishes.
These types include
Soft-Bodied Acrylic Paints. These formulas have a smooth consistency and work well with various paint mediums. Besides, adding mediums does not affect the paint’s viscosity and applies smoothly to the workpiece.
These acrylic paints are self-leveling yet slightly thinner than heavy body variety paints. Thus, they are excellent for smooth and continuous paintbrush movements.
Heavy-Bodied Acrylic Paints. This product’s texture is similar to soft butter, making it suitable for rougher surfaces. The paint’s heavy body also allows you to make peaks and maintain brush strokes.
These paints are perfect for artists looking for a heavy body similar to oil finishes with a quicker drying time.
Fluid Acrylic Paints. The texture of this paint type is like double ice cream and comes in a bottle. Further, the formula comes in vibrant colors and a thinner consistency.
These acrylic products are perfect for spraying, brushing, and staining and are suitable for glazes and staining effects.
Acrylic Inks. These paints have an extremely fluid consistency and fine pigments that deliver intense colors. Also, the ink cures into a gloss finish that you can apply using a paintbrush, pen, or airbrush.
The ink is similar to airbrush acrylic, but the latter causes clogging and impede the paint’s flow.
Acrylic Gouache. This acrylic paint type delivers a lovely, smooth, and creamy texture that cures into an opaque matte surface. However, you cannot reactivate the finish once it dries.
A perfect alternative is a regular gouache which is easy to reactivate with water once it dries.
- Interactive Acrylic Paints. These are fast-drying artist-quality paints. Further, they have an ‘unlocking formula’ that activates the dry finish and slows the drying time.
- Open Acrylic Paints. These paints dry slower, allowing you to apply wet-on-wet application techniques. In addition, they are perfect for blending when painting on paper or canvas.
Open acrylic paints are also suitable for artists who like oil painting techniques.
- Acrylic Markers and Sprays. These markers and sprays are available in multiple shapes and vibrant colors for drawing and painting. They also dry rapidly and are waterproof.
You can use the formula on plastic, metal, and paper and expect a durable finish. However, wear a mask and work in a well-ventilated area, as some paints have solvents.
In addition, manufacturers create various acrylic paint grades by combining different formula types. For example, you can mix hard, and soft body paints to give you more control over the product’s applications.
These grades include
Acrylic Paint Grades
Professional Acrylic Paints. This acrylic paint type has the highest quality pigments and less acrylic binder. It is also available in vibrant hues, giving you a wide color selection.
Professional acrylic formulas are more pricey but vary with the brand. Besides, the product’s texture, opacity, and drying times vary depending on the ingredients.
Artist Acrylic Paints. These paints have similar pigments to professional-grade acrylics. But they are more affordable as they have more binder and ingredients improving quality.
In addition, artist- and professional-grade acrylic paints have a lower color shift,
Student Acrylic Paints. These formulas have more binder than pigments and contain mediums and fillers to deliver a more solid coat. Moreover, these added ingredients affect the paint’s opacity and saturation.
Although some people find student acrylic paints chalky due to added fillers, they are excellent for those with tight budgets. In addition, you can still produce fantastic work despite being a beginner.
Acrylic paints’ popularity has increased exponentially in the last 70 years. They dry quickly and are easy to use, with excellent elasticity and flexibility.
As a result, they expand and contract with temperature fluctuations, minimizing cracking and flaking.
Finally, you can use the formula for multiple projects, including glass, metal, ceramic, plastic, wood, and fabric.
Does Acrylic Paint Wash Off Concrete Easily?
Acrylic paints are water-based, meaning you can wash them off concrete while wet. Also, although they are water-resistant, washing the finish is easy for indoor and outdoor applications.
You can wash off acrylic paint from concrete using two procedures, depending on whether the finish is wet or dry. Further, wet paint is easier to wash off than dried, which needs more muscle.
Nevertheless, using the recommended procedure below, either paint type is easy to remove.
- Mix a soapy water mixture in a bucket, soak a scrub brush in the solution, and rub the concrete surface.
- Soak up as much paint as possible in the sponge and rinse the area with a hose and water.
- Alternatively, remove the dried paint by lifting it off with a scraper. Then, scrub the area with a soapy water solution.
- Finally, apply a paint stripper for trouble spots and power wash the surface. Then, let the formula sit on the finish until the surface softens.
How to Paint Concrete With Acrylic Paint
Acrylic paints are available in multiple colors and formulas, making finding the best for your project easy. Essential tips on the painting venture include preparing and cleaning the concrete, fixing cracks, priming the surface, painting, and sealing the finish.
Furthermore, painting concrete is a perfect way to seal and improve the surface’s look and performance. But since concrete has unique characteristics and painting needs, allocate enough time for the work, say two weeks.
You need the correct supplies to deliver a professional outcome. They include a power washer, wire brush, scraper, paintbrush, paint rollers, paint tray, rags, concrete paint, concrete primer, concrete sealant, concrete patch, and tri-sodium phosphate.
Then, check out the formula below to minimize mistakes and guesswork.
Step One: Prepare and Clean the Concrete
Cleaning the concrete is essential before painting as it facilitates a smooth, flawless finish. The process involves sweeping debris and dust with a broom or vacuum cleaner and washing the area with soap and water.
Below is a more detailed procedure.
- Do a Moisture Check
Check the concrete slab for moisture before painting. You can use a moisture meter or cover the surface with plastic sheeting to see condensation.
Avoid painting concrete until you fix moisture issues. Otherwise, they will compromise adhesion, resulting in a peeling finish.
- Clean the Concrete
Remove all debris and dirt using your preferred method. Besides, we have safer alternatives to traditional acid etching formulas.
You can also use soap and water to remove old paint. But first, sweep away surface leaves and dust.
Remove existing gunk or paint with a scraper, wire brush, or power washer. The surface should be as clean and bare as possible for a perfect outcome.
Also, clean the surface with an absorbent dry-cleaning sponge or cloth with water and mild detergent. This way, you’ll remove the remaining oils and dirt on the surface left by previous paints and sealers.
Remove dense grease and oil areas with tri-sodium phosphate to guarantee the finish does not discolor later.
You can get this product in a home improvement store. Then, mix it with water in the recommended ratio.
- Rinse the Surface and Let it Dry
Rinse the concrete surface off the cleaner and give it enough time to dry before proceeding to the next step. Experts recommend 24 to 48 hours after cleaning as moisture ruins paint adhesion and increase the chances of flaking and cracking.
Step Two: Patch up Cracks
- Use Epoxy
Patch up cracks with epoxy putty to make the concrete surface more durable. Sand the gaps, chip off loose concrete on the edges, and clean up using a stiff brush. Also, ensure the putty is suitable for concrete applications for compatibility.
Fill in the paste and let it dry overnight. Further, wear a mask during application as the product is toxic. Then, assess the cracks in the morning to confirm whether the putty penetrates the surface.
Sometimes you need more epoxy. So, apply it carefully, and give the surface time to dry before sanding.
- Use a Concrete Patch
Alternatively, apply a concrete patch to cover significant flaws, such as gouges, cracks, and uneven surfaces. The surface should be as regular and smooth as possible to achieve a satisfactory outcome.
Any cracks and breaks are potential moisture leaks. Thus, water will seep under the paint and cause peeling. Also, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to confirm the proper drying time.
Step Three: Prime the Concrete
A primer improves adhesion and prolongs the paint’s life. It also increases moisture resistance and minimizes the likelihood of mold and mildew.
Moreover, the formula binds the paint and the concrete surface, ensuring it sticks properly.
The primer coat fills cracks, evens out blemishes, and provides an excellent base for the paint. This keeps the concrete from soaking excess paint, minimizing your paint requirement.
Step Four: Apply the paint
- Assess the Weather Forecast
Ensure you have two to three days of fair weather before painting outdoor concrete. Besides, you’ll need to give the finish ample drying time between coats.
Different products have specific drying durations, so check the manufacturer’s instructions for an accurate result.
- Get the Right Paint
Generally, your best bet for the concrete project is masonry paint, which expands and contracts with the surface as the temperature fluctuates.
But since our guide is on acrylic paint, get a high-quality formula from the store and proceed.
- Apply the First Paint Coat
Apply a thin, uniform paint layer using a paint roller. Start at the top when painting a wall or one of the corners. Then, work slowly and evenly across the work area.
In addition, you do not need much paint in each layer since one or two coats are enough.
- Dry Off the First Coat
Acrylic paint dries to the touch in as little as twenty minutes. But it can take several hours, depending on the weather.
You are finished at this point if you only need one paint coat.
Step Four: Apply the Second Coat (Optional)
Return the next afternoon and add another paint coat. You can add another layer once the finish dries overnight.
Add one more paint coat, but don’t shy away from a third one if you want a deeper color and a more uniform coating.
Finally, let the finish dry for one to two days before placing anything or stepping on it. Also, dry the final coat for at least 24 hours before moving items onto the project to ensure a professional appearance.
Here’s How to Paint Concrete:
Should You Prime Concrete Before Painting?
You should prime concrete before painting as it is the all-important second step. It closely follows cleaning the surface thoroughly to remove efflorescence and dirt.
A primer fills small voids and gaps in the concrete, facilitating a smooth, even surface. It also works as a bonding medium between the paint and the concrete, assuring excellent adhesion. As a result, you can expect a durable project free from flaking and peeling.
The formula soaks into the cement and protects it from damage: thus, prolonging the paint’s life. In addition, it turns a poor painting surface into one that excellently accepts paints and topcoats.
Concrete always needs a primer, especially if it is chalking, chipping, peeling, unpainted, and incompatible with the paint type.
Further, we have three primary primer formulations: tinted shellac, acrylic/latex, and alkyd/oil based.
Manufacturers have primers specific for concrete applications for a more professional outcome. Check the list below to get the best one for your work.
Concrete is more porous and absorbs water-based or acrylic primers more than their oil-based counterparts. It bonds to the substrate and allows the topcoat to grip the surface. In addition, the formula reduces dust on the concrete.
- Acrylic Masonry
This primer protects concrete against discoloration, efflorescence, and lime burn. It works best on properly cured, new, and unpainted concrete. You can also use it for outdoor projects and expect a durable finish.
- Polyurethane Epoxy
This acrylic/latex primer type is sturdy and heavy-duty, resisting chemical attacks and harsh work environments. Further, it can withstand commercial and industrial work areas.
- Acrylic Block Fill
This primer is perfect for split-face, smooth, new, or unpainted concrete blocks, delivering a long-lasting surface.
How Long Does It Take Acrylic Paint to Dry On Concrete?
Acrylic needs an average of 20 to 30 minutes to dry to the touch. However, most brands only require ten to 20 minutes, but other environmental and product-related factors affect this duration.
Generally, the brand and paint type are the most crucial considerations. For instance, slow-drying acrylics remain wet for hours, especially on canvas. Also, the longer you allow, the smoother and softer the edges.
You can use all the formulas before it dries. And some manufacturers add retarders to acrylic paints to extend the workable time.
Factors that influence acrylic paint’s drying time on concrete include
- Temperature and Humidity
It’s all about the moisture level in the air. Temperature and humidity levels affect how quickly the acrylic paint dries. So, high temperatures and low humidity speed up the process, whereas the opposite makes it longer.
For example, painting concrete in arid climates leads to rapid dry time. But this aspect is a challenge as the paint cracks later.
Further, painting indoors gives you more control over temperature and humidity levels. You can use central heating and air conditioning to minimize humidity in the room.
- Type of Paint
Some acrylic paints are typically thicker than others and take longer to dry. Therefore, check the paint type before choosing when to finish the surface. Otherwise, picking a slow-drying formula will take ages to dry during cold weather.
- Paint Application
Interestingly, how you apply the paint affects drying time. You can use a roller, spray, or brush for uniform and consistent coatings.
Spray paint is uniform and thin and dries to the touch in thirty minutes, allowing you to add a second coat in an hour.
On the other hand, brushed-on or rolled acrylic paint is heavier, requiring more time to dry between coats.
Further, waiting for the coats to dry thoroughly before adding subsequent coats is advisable to deliver a durable finish.
- Paint Thickness
The thicker the acrylic paint, more time it takes to dry to the touch. Besides, you will notice that products with thinner color films dry faster.
The number of paint coats you apply also impacts the waiting time. So, allocate more time to have more than one layer.
- Surface Absorbency
Acrylic paint dries more quickly if you have an absorbent surface. Furthermore, the material sometimes absorbs moisture, causing the formula to dry before you can blend it.
In addition, priming the surface with Gesso makes it more absorbent. Thus, the finish dries quicker than painting on unprimed paper or bare canvas.
- Air Circulation
Air circulation can fasten the paint’s drying duration. Therefore, protect the finish from drafts to prevent it from drying too fast.
Also, avoid working near a heating duct, air conditioning vents, ceiling fans, and open windows.
Lastly, install a wind block to reduce the wind when working on an outdoor concrete application.
How To Remove Acrylic Paint From Concrete
Acrylic paint is easier to remove from concrete as it is water-based. Further, we have two procedures to accomplish this task, depending on whether the finish is wet or dry.
Wet acrylic paint is easier to clean than dried-on, as you only need to soak it up. Conversely, dry paint needs more muscle. But still, you can remove either paint type, leaving virtually no trace.
Below are tips to guide you through the process.
- Remove the Wet Paint
Use a rag to wipe off as much wet paint as possible. Mix soapy water in a container, dip a scrub brush and scrub the surface.
Also, use a lot of solution to dilute the wet paint, making it easier to remove. Then, rinse the surface with a hose and fresh water.
- Remove Dried Paint
Use a scraper to lift off the paint. It can be a utility knife, a paint scraper, a putty knife, or a shovel’s edge for larger areas. In addition, pour some paint stripper or acrylic paint remover designed for concrete.
Cover the work area with a cloth soaked in the stripper to moisten the surface, and return after a few hours.
By then, the paint will have softened. So, scrub it with a soapy water solution and rinse.
- Use a Power Washer for Heavy Duty Applications
Power wash the concrete to remove dried paint and apply a paint stripper with a paintbrush for troubled spots.
Also, power-wash the area again to lift off dried paint, leaving a flawless surface.
- Use Muriatic Acid
This solution comes in handy if the paint thinner does not work. However, wear goggles, gloves, and protective clothing as they are corrosive. In addition, use the acid in a well-ventilated area and wear a respirator.
Mix muriatic acid according to the manufacturer’s directives. Then, apply a stiff bristle scrub brush to the paint.
Finally, scrub the finish until it disappears and flush it several times with water.
What Kind of Paint Can You Use On Concrete?
Ultimately, your chosen paint type depends on the desired effect. For instance, matte paints hide flaws on concrete better than glossier versions, which works best for exterior applications.
Most concrete paint brands recommend repainting the surface every few years. However, the duration varies from product to product.
For instance, some paints last longer if you primer the surface before application.
Again, check the product label for an accurate idea of its durability and confirm it fits your lifestyle. In addition, pick a temporal product if you want to change the color after a few years.
Remember, all concrete paints need care and maintenance, but some demand more attention. Therefore, check the product label to understand its needs and whether you can maintain it.
More specifically, masonry paint, also called elastomeric wall coating or elastomeric paint, is a perfect choice for concrete painting. It has binders that expand and contract with concrete, reducing the chances of peeling and cracking.
Furthermore, the high-quality paint delivers a finished look to concrete patios, steps, floors, and driveways while protecting them from wear and tear.
Also, whereas epoxy paint is the most durable for concrete floors, you can use acrylic paint on statues and decor. It will not damage the surface, is easy to clean up, and does not fail due to moisture or rain.
Concrete patios and porches work well with epoxies as they withstand heavy use and high traffic. They resist dings, scratches, and stains, delivering maximum beauty for a long duration.
Is Acrylic Paint Waterproof On Concrete?
Although acrylic paint is usually water-resistant when dry, it is not fully waterproof. Besides, sealing is crucial for concrete where moisture is a concern, such as an outdoor patio.
Fortunately, we have various waterproof sealers to preserve the project. However, use a water-based formula to enhance adhesion when working with acrylic paint.
In addition, ensure the sealer is ideal for painted concrete, as not all cover paint coats.
Lastly, the rain will ruin your project, especially if the finish is wet. Also, while the paint is slightly water-resistant, rain makes it peel and flake off.
Do You Need To Seal Acrylic Paint Outdoors?
Acrylic paint resists water and adheres to workpieces, even in fluctuating temperatures and humidity. Sometimes, you do not need to seal or varnish the project.
However, if you doubt the project’s resistance to outdoor elements, seal it with a transparent topcoat. The formula delivers a stunning finish to protect the painted surface from harsh weather conditions.
Below is a summary of how to seal acrylic paint.
- Choose the Best Topcoat
Generally, use a polyacrylic or water-based sealant. The former delivers a glossy surface, whereas the latter gives a flat finish.
In addition, water-based polyacrylic sealants are more versatile, accommodating multiple projects.
- Apply the Sealant
You can use a cloth, sponge, or paintbrush for the best outcome. Dip the applicant in the sealant and apply a thin layer to the surface. Then, let it dry to the touch.
Sponges work best for surfaces with curves and grooves, cloths for wax-based sealants, and paintbrushes for flat areas.
- Apply a Second Coat
Let the first sealant layer dry and add a second one. This way, you guarantee superior protection and added durability.
- Let the Project Cure for Two to Three Weeks
Although the work area appears ready for use after a short duration, it is not fully dry. Thus, allow the topcoat to dry for two to three weeks, and do not put anything on it.
Otherwise, it will cause imperfections or, worse still, damage the finish.
Frequently Asked Questions
Some of the most asked questions are:
Can I Mix Acrylic Paint Into Cement?
You can mix acrylic paint into cement using three parts and one part. The exercise adds color to the latter and delivers a rich hue.
However, the cement may dry out, becoming fragile or dissolving the acrylic paint. Also, avoid mixing the paint with damp cement.
Can I Use Wall paint on My Concrete Floor?
You can use latex and acrylic wall paint on concrete floors. But avoid rooms with high traffic, like the living room and kitchen. Otherwise, the finish will wear out quickly.
Further, while wall paint is water-resistant, easy to apply, and durable, it works best for other uses. In addition, epoxy paint is ideal for floors as it does not work well for vertical applications.
Can I Paint Directly onto Concrete?
It is okay to paint directly onto concrete surfaces. However, ensure you clean them well before painting. Otherwise, grime, oil, and dirt will compromise adhesion, leading to premature chipping and flaking.
But still, using a primer is advisable since it fills small holes and guarantees a smoother surface. It also evens the surface’s color, ensuring the finish retains its original color.
Lastly, consider a water-based bonding primer, as it is compatible with acrylics and comes in handy for surfaces presenting adhesion issues. This way, you enhance the paint’s protection and durability.
Acrylic paint is your go-to product if you are looking for the quality and vibrancy of oil paints without spending much time or money. Further, acrylic painting is a fulfilling hobby, delivering creative artwork.
Conversely, concrete surfaces are easy to beautify with a few paint coats. In addition, the process is straightforward and inexpensive, making it convenient for most homeowners and facility remodellers.
But still, most acrylic paint users are uncomfortable using it on concrete. Hence, the write-up above clarifies a common concern:
Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Concrete?
Generally, acrylic paint is a perfect choice for concrete as it does not need sanding or priming. It dries quickly and lasts longer than other paint types on the surface.
The formula also allows you to alter your concrete driveway’s color easily.
Finally, acrylic paint has excellent adhesion to concrete and better resistance to fading, chipping, and scratches. Therefore, you can expect a lovely, durable surface.