How to Prepare Concrete for Painting- Easy Tips to Painting Concrete

Image of painted concrete know How to Prepare Concrete for PaintingMost do-it-yourself paint jobs are failed projects because of inadequate surface preparation. Moreover, the final look and the paint’s durability rely on the preparation process. That said, concrete is not any different. Whether you are giving a new look to an old and neglected floor or working on an entirely new surface, it would be best to know How to Prepare Concrete for Painting?

Preparing concrete is very straightforward. The first step is to remove dirt, dust, grease, oil stains, and other contaminants on the surface. You can use a heavy-duty concrete degreaser or use a pressure washer to do the cleaning. After that, smoothen the surface with 180 grit sandpaper and use some acid to etch the surface.

Then, allow the mixture to rest on the floor for about 15 minutes then, wash with a high-pressure cleaner and clean water. Also, please remember to mask up the concrete areas you want to protect once the surface is dry.

The preparation process is vital as it enhances a professional finish that will never peel. Therefore, check out more information about the process in the following sections.

How Do You Get Paint to Stick to Concrete?

You can use a strong detergent or trisodium phosphate to help the paint stick properly on the surface. Also, sanding is a simple process that will deliver a perfect rough texture for good paint bonding. You can test a small surface area to confirm if the new paint adheres well.

In addition, the paint formula should stick if the concrete has no moisture beads. Ensure to scuff up or scrape off loose paint with 100-grit sandpaper. Then, use a damp cloth and cleaner degreaser to wipe off the sanding dust, rinse, and let the concrete dry.

Priming is also an essential exercise that will help the paint adhere better to the surface.

Do I Need to Acid Wash Concrete Before Painting?

Yes. It would be best to acid wash concrete before painting as it prepares the surface to accept a sealer. The acid water also removes white mineral deposits and heavy grime. 

However, please avoid using it before applying stains as it does not work properly. The acid depletes the lime content needed to react with the stain.

Also, most etching solutions feature muriatic acid or trisodium phosphate chemicals. Hence, it would be best to handle the formulas with care to keep safe.

Does Vinegar Etch Concrete?

Vinegar etches concrete perfectly as it opens up its pores. Also, it is less labor-intensive than using a machine to pretreat the surface. Therefore, you easily get a ready-to-paint concrete floor.

Mix equal parts of a vinegar solution and warm water and apply to the concrete. Then, allow it to dry properly before applying paint or a primer. Also, ensure that you clean the surface thoroughly to facilitate a successful etching process.

What Is the Best Paint to Use on Concrete?

Concrete surfaces require paint formulas that can hold up to tough use and harsh environmental conditions. Therefore, it would be best to check out the following products and choose the most suitable one.

  • Kilz Decorative Concrete Coating

The decorative concrete coating product is easy to use and versatile. It is also suitable for multiple applications like driveways, walls, patios, and other concrete applications. However, it only offers two colors, tan and gray. Thus, you will not benefit from the product if you need other colors.

  • In the Swim Patio and Deck Paint

This formula works magic for pool supplies and equipment. It delivers quality results with a cool surface, excellent coverage, and a non-slip finish. Also, the paint is durable and will not peel from water or rain.

In addition, you have a variety of colors to choose from, like granite, putty, taupe, buff tan, and sandstone. Thankfully, the color does not fade even with exposure to UV light. So, you will have a beautiful look for an extended duration.

  • INSL-X Sure Step

INSL-X Sure Step produces excellent traction that prevents slips and falls. But, even so, these tractions do not feel rough or abrasive. The paint also resists scratching and peeling and is thus an ideal product for high-traffic areas.

You will get the formula in 8 colors and a semi-gloss finish. Also, you ca n use it for a patio or porch that sees easy use on weekends or during the evenings.

  • RTG Supply Co. Concrete Paint

Although this paint is more expensive than the others, you do not need an applicator or primer to get accurate results. Also, it gives an impressive coverage of about 80 to 100 feet.

You can get the formula in four colors: light gray, sand, white, and amber or clear. It is also UV rays stable and resists fading.

  • UGL DRYLOK Masonry Waterproof

UGL DRYLOK is a unique formula that keeps water out of the concrete. It also delivers stain resistance qualities and is thus perfect for areas with a lot of moisture.

You will get the product in white, blue, beige, and gray. On top of that, it offers essential qualities such as a non-slip finish, no primer needed, and hot tire pick-up resistance. Therefore, it is perfect for your driveway or garage.

The formula is fast drying and easy to clean with soap and water. Also, you will enjoy a shorter drying time and complete the paint job in record time.

  • Rust-Oleum Decorative Concrete Coating

This paint is versatile, tough, and offers a unique look to the concrete. You can get it in four distinct colors that allow you to choose the best one for your patio or exterior wall.

  • Daich RollerRock Concrete Coating 

Daich RollerRock features real stone particles that enhance a grippy textured finish. Hence, it is ideal for concrete steps and pool decks. Also, it does not require a primer before you apply it and covers hairline cracks.

That said, we acknowledge that it is quite a task to pick out the best formula for your work. So, let me share some important considerations to make before making a purchase.

  • Color. The color you intend to paint the concrete surface determines the paint to choose. For instance, it would be best to start by considering brands with the most variety if you want to add a pop of color to your surface. This exercise will also help you interact with other colors that may work well with the project.
  • Traffic and abuse. It would help to pick a product that matches the level of abuse and traffic the surface takes. Please consider you have multiple car movements in the garage or have mischievous kids. Also, more pricey formulas deliver more durability and offer stain resistance properties to the concrete. Therefore, it is easy to clean up spills and avoid marks during cleaning sessions.
  • Outdoor elements. Outdoor surfaces get more exposure to water and UV lights. Hence, they suffer a greater fading and damage risk than indoor ones. So, it would help to pick high-quality and protective paints that do not break down because of hail, wind, snow, or rain.

How Soon Can You Paint After Etching Concrete?

The general rule is to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines because some etching products need a neutralizing component. But, you will always be on the safe side if you allow a minimum of four days before foot traffic and ten more days before vehicle traffic or other paint applications.

In addition, temperature and humidity levels shorten or lengthen the waiting duration. Therefore, choose a good time to handle the project. Besides that, etching materials have sand quantities that influence the formula’s working speed. They only need approximately 15 to 30 minutes to work their way through the initial layer.

How Do You Paint Over Old Concrete?

Proper preparation is mandatory as it helps to deliver a perfect and long-lasting finish. Hence, begin by evaluating the surface for curing compounds. Buff the surface thoroughly to reveal small spots beneath the old paint. Then, mix hydrated lime and denatured alcohol in equal proportions and apply the paste to the identified spots.

Allow the paste to dry until it becomes a thin crust. Next, use a bristled brush to scrape away the dried spots and sweep away the chips.

Check out the following project summary.

  • Fill any scratches, holes, or gouges on the surface using a patching compound.
  • Clean the concrete with warm water and trisodium phosphate and let it dry.
  • Apply porch-and-floor enamel or paint. Begin with the perimeter, then move towards the middle.
  • Scrap aways bumps and lumps on the surface. Then, sand regions where the paint did not adhere.
  • Apply the second paint coat and let it cure.

Can You Paint Over Old Paint on Concrete?

It would be best to scrape and sand off existing paint. So, use fine 120-grit sandpaper after scrapping off flaking or loose paint. This exercise gives the surface the necessary grit to receive new paint.

How Do You Keep Paint From Peeling Off Concrete?

You keep paint from peeling off the concrete by ensuring that you paint on a dry surface. Therefore, before applying the paint, check whether moisture is coming up through the surface below. Then, tape a small, thick plastic material to an area with no paint.

Strip all the paint from the surface if you notice water droplets on the plastic material. Also, it would help to get a coating that is hydrostatic pressure resistant.

On the other hand, the paint should adhere properly to the surface if you do not get any moisture beads.

What Causes Paint to Peel Off Concrete?

Water is the underlying reason for peeling off the paint on a concrete surface. The logic behind it is that concrete materials have alkali components, which come to the surface because of water. So, when the moisture evaporates, the compounds leave an efflorescence. Then, it pushes against the paint film on the surface and leads to peeling.

Other reasons for peeling include:

  • Surface temperature. The solvent quickly evaporates from the surface if you paint in extremely hot conditions. Thus, the formula does not adhere as it should.
  • Incompatible coats. This scenario occurs if you apply a coating over an existing polyurethane, epoxy, or another type of chemically cured coating.
  • Age. The cohesive bond in a coating develops over time and may overwhelm its adhesive strength. Hence, peeling paint curls occur.
  • Surface contamination. Dirt and contaminants hinder optimum adhesion between the surface and the substrate. In addition, water-based coatings peel easily due to oil and grease contamination.
  • The substrate is not compatible with the paint coating. This situation is common where you apply an oil-based coating to concrete or galvanized steel. The chemical reaction compromises the adhesion bond and leads to peeling.
  • The surface is too smooth. A smooth surface lacks a proper profile that enhances the development of a chemical adhesion with the paint. Therefore, sanding is an excellent option to restore this property to smooth surfaces.

How Long Does Painted Concrete Last?

Painted concrete may last three to five years, depending on how you use it. Some may last longer if you protect the painted area from elements or high traffic. Also, you can preserve the surface by mopping or vacuuming regularly to eliminate soil and grit.

In addition, using clear solutions of all-purpose cleaners and warm water will help keep the surface clean. Also, ensure that you rinse and dry the surface after cleaning.

What Is the Best Way to Paint a Concrete Floor?

Ensure that you are working on a clean and dry floor. Use a degreasing compound and rinse several times until the concrete is clean. Then, allow the floor to dry after applying every coat. Also, determine the source of the problem if the surface shows any signs of water seepage.

Next, follow the following simple steps to complete the job.

  • Sand off and remove any old paint or ununiform regions. Then, vacuum the surface and wipe with a tack cloth.
  • Use mix concrete patch compound to fill up any cracks or holes in the concrete. Use a trowel to push it in the depressions and let it dry thoroughly. However, you can skip this stage if the surface is smooth.
  • Apply two coats of primer using a paint roller. Also, remember to let the surface dry properly between the coats.
  • Use a clean paint compressor or roller to apply a minimum of two epoxy paint coats.
  • Then, get a compressor or clean roller and apply several coats of a masonry sealer compound. Also, ensure that the surface dries between coats.

How Long After Washing Concrete Can You Paint it?

You will wait approximately 24 hours for the concrete surface to dry after a cleanup session. This aspect is essential because moisture trapped in the material will ultimately break down and crack the concrete. Therefore, it would be best to allow the surface enough time to dry.

In addition, ensure that you confirm that the moisture level is within the recommended range. The paint will not bond well with a wet surface, and the coating will fail.

Can I Paint Concrete With Acrylic Paint?

Yes. You can paint concrete with acrylic paint formulas. Thankfully, the product spreads easily on masonry surfaces and delivers a smooth finish. Also, you do not need brushes, rollers, or any special tools to complete the job.

In addition, acrylic latex is budget-friendly compared to epoxy products. Thus, you can get it for your DIY projects. On top of that, the formulas have small particles throughout the solution to deliver a non-slip surface. Hence, they are ideal for exterior steps and walkways.

However, the downside of the paint is that it is less durable, and you will need to recoat the surface every two to three years. But, it is better than exterior house paint, which will peel and crack within no time.

How Do You Seal Acrylic Paint on Concrete?

Sealing painted concrete floors is vital as it adds a protection layer. It protects thE paint from flaking, peeling, wearing off, or getting scratches. Also, the process gives the surface longevity even if the concrete contains a lot of furniture or experiences heavy foot traffic.

Fortunately, it is pretty easy to seal acrylic paint on concrete. All you need is a broom, vacuum, dustpan, painter’s tape, paintbrush, epoxy sealant, and a long-armed paint roller. Then, follow the following procedure.

  • Remove all the furniture in the work area or room to keep it from getting stains. You can push it in one area of the room, but that will limit your work. So, it would be best to transfer the items to another room until you finish the paint job.
  • Sweep and clean the surface to remove debris and dirt. Use a dustpan and broom or a vacuum cleaner. Also, ensure that you deal with the whole floor as dirt causes the sealant to discolor or flake.
  • Cover the bottom of the wall with painter’s tape to avoid staining them. Begin with one corner and work along each wall. Also, ensure that you apply the tape to the region where the wall and floor meet.
  • Wear protective clothing during work to avoid inhaling the concrete sealant. In addition, open the windows and door to get as much ventilation as possible.
  • Paint the sealant using a brush and cover the floor edges. Also, ensure that the formula settles without a roller to keep it away from the wall’s bottom.
  • Use the long-arm roller brush and work the sealant onto the concrete floor. It would be best to work towards the door to avoid closing yourself up in a corner. On top of that, paint the formula on the brush strokes around the wall’s edges.
  • Allow the coat to dry properly. You can set up some fans in areas with low ventilation. Also, it would help to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for the ideal drying time.
  • Lastly, apply another coat if you want to even out any flaws. Also, the second coat delivers an extra protection layer. However, you may not need it if you do not use the painted area often.

How Long Does Concrete Need to Dry After Etching?

Concrete needs approximately 48 hours of curing time before you add any etch to the surface. Also, ensure that you begin counting once you have eliminated all the water.

Besides that, you may have to wait for about 72 hours for the best results if the weather is humid. But, the process is valuable and helps the paint to stitch better on the surface. So, it is worth it!

How Do You Know if Concrete is Dry Enough to Paint?

You can check if the concrete is dry enough for painting by tapping the floor with a 2’x2′ piece of 4-mil plastic. Use some duct tape to keep it secure. Then, observe if you will see any condensation or concrete darkening after 24 hours. The surface is safe to paint if there is no darkening or moisture beads.

Also, you need at least 30 days for the water to dissipate enough for the paint formula to adhere. Therefore, be gracious and give the concrete some ample time to dry completely.

Do I Need to Prime Concrete Before Painting?

It is prudent to apply a primer to the concrete before painting. However, ensure that you apply the formula after removing all dirt and efflorescence from the surface. A primer accomplishes the following essential functions.

  • It soaks into the concrete and protects it from overtime damage.
  • The formula turns an uncooperative surface for paint into one that perfectly receives paint and top coasts beautifully.
  • You will also enjoy using a stain or paint coat for an extended duration.
  • The product fills voids and small gaps to deliver a uniform and smooth surface.
  • It functions as a bonding agent between the paint and concrete. Thus, it assures excellent adhesion to both surfaces.

Even so, sometimes, you may not need a primer if you have an existing surface. But, you need to prim if the concrete is peeling, chalking, unpainted, chipping, or is incompatible with the paint type suitable for the job.

On top of that, primers have special attributes that reduce the number of bubbles or pinholes caused by trapped hair. Therefore, they reduce water loss and improve topcoat adhesion significantly.

It would help to know the various primers we have in the market. They come in three forms: acrylic or latex, alkyd or oil-based, and tinted shellac. The formulas are suitable for both interior and exterior applications. Therefore, you will always get a suitable one for your paint job.

Also, check out the primers below and how they work.

  • Acrylic or latex primers are usually more likely to soak into the concrete surface than oil-based primers. Thus, they bond perfectly with the substrate and allow the paint formula to grip the surface tightly. Also, the formulas reduce the chances of dust settling on interior concrete.
  • Epoxy or polyurethane resists chemical attacks and works perfectly in harsh work environments such as industrial or commercial work areas. They are also heavy-duty and incredibly strong. Therefore, they offer superior protection to the concrete.
  • Acrylic masonry protects the surface against discoloration, efflorescence, and discoloration. The primers are perfect for unpainted, properly cured, or new concrete. Also, they are excellent for outdoor projects.
  • Acrylic block fill formulas are suitable for cinder blocks. They work for split face, new or painted, and smooth concrete blocks.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does Vinegar Remove Paint From Concrete?

Yes. Vinegar can remove paint from concrete. All you need to do is heat half a cup of vinegar and apply it to the paint. Let it soak for about 15 minutes. Then, remove the paint coat with a paint scraper after it starts to bubble.

  • Does Oven Cleaner Spray Remove Spray Paint From Concrete?

Spray oven cleaner, paint thinner, or a nail polish remover and allow it to sit for about five to ten minutes. Use a stiff-bristle scrub brush and move in circular motions to scour the paint coat. Then, get a garden hose set to high pressure and rinse the surface.

Finally, allow the concrete to dry before proceeding to other applications such as painting and sealing.


It is impossible to take pride in perfect results if you ignore preparing the surface during painting or sealing. The preparation phase eliminates dust, dirt, and debris that compromise the paint or primer’s adhesion. However, concrete requires some unique strategies to get a prepared surface. Thus, most painters want to know:

How to Prepare Concrete for Painting?

It is quite easy to prepare concrete as long as you are ready to spend energy and time. First, use a pressure washer or heavy-duty degreaser to eliminate oil stains, grease, dirt, and dust. Then, get 180 grit sandpaper and smoothen the surface.

It is also essential to etch the surface to make the surface rough enough to receive the paint. Ensure that the mixture stays on the surface for 15 minutes before rinsing it. Then, mask the areas you do not want to paint.

2 thoughts on “How to Prepare Concrete for Painting- Easy Tips to Painting Concrete”

  1. I used Drylock clear wall and floor waterproofing paint on my basement floor. It says I can paint over it and your blog reinforced that. Do I need to prime over the drylock clear or just put an acrylic or latex paint over it? What brand do you suggest? I need to use black and white . I dont mind spending the money for a good product if I am putting the manhours in. My email address is [email protected]

    • Greetings Gloria Burns,

      That’s a great question. First, Drylok works well with both acrylic and latex paints provided the Drylok has dried. Once you have Drylok dry on your surface, you don’t need to add a primer because it also acts as a base coat. So just go ahead and use the paint of your choosing. Acrylic paints work best with Drylok.

      Drylok is specifically designed to be absorbed into the surface of the project as soon as it dry. It prevents moisture from penetrating through the paint. Drylok is great for both interior and exterior surfaces.

      I recommend KILZ Interior/Exterior Basement and Masonry Waterproofing Paint, thanks to its nanotechnology elements that form a barrier that stops water infiltration. Additionally, it has an alkali-resistant coating that enhances a durable and decorative finish.

      Before you apply this formula, ensure the surface is properly prepared and cured. You can apply it on masonry walls, stucco, retaining walls, cinder and concrete blocks, and brick. You must not use it on floors or on walls with active water leaks.

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