How to Paint Concrete the Correct Way

All types of interior and exterior concrete surfaces can be painted, and with innovative paint technologies improving adhesion and durability, the results are amazing. Learn how to paint concrete the right way with this step-by-step guide.

Why Painting Concrete is Important

It has several practical and aesthetic benefits. Here are some of the most common reasons people choose to paint concrete.

Aesthetic Enhancement

Concrete lasts a long time, and after decades of wear and tear, it can start to look a little rough. Painting your patio or steps transforms the aesthetics of your home and enhances its curb appeal.

Protecting and Preserving

Concrete is porous, making it susceptible to problems like staining and cracking. Concrete surfaces can be destroyed in the same way that potholes are formed on asphalt. When water gets into exterior concrete surfaces and freezes, it leads to cracking. 

Longevity and Durability

Protecting outside concrete surfaces like driveways and cement walkways makes them more resistant and extends their lifespan, sometimes making them last decades longer. 

The Benefits of Painting Concrete

Learn more about the benefits of painting concrete walkways, driveways, patios, and floors.

Enhanced Curb Appeal

Many homes have concrete driveways or surfaces in the backyard that could benefit significantly from a fresh coat. Concrete paint comes in various colors, complementing your home’s exterior design and creating a more polished appearance.

Painting concrete steps, sidewalks, and driveways is one of the most impactful and cost-effective ways to enhance your home’s curb appeal. Since first impressions are important and these are the first things people see when they come to your home, they make a big difference.

Easy Maintenance

If you’ve ever tried to get stubborn oil stains off your concrete driveway or garage floor, you know how hard it is. Concrete is so porous that lifting set-in oil stains can be impossible. 

Thankfully, there are plenty of new paints on the market you can use. It will improve its appearance and make it easier to clean.


cost effective

New driveways and patios are expensive, and you can save a lot of money by painting cement. Concrete costs about $4 to $15 per square foot, while painting only costs $2 to $4. 

After you’re finished reading about how to put paint on, you’ll want to learn about taking it off. Check out our guide to removing paint from brick.

When to Paint Cement

Timing is critical when painting your cement sidewalks and concrete driveways, especially for new installations. New concrete must be allowed to cure for at least 2 months, which includes 30 days of curing and 30 days of drying.

Seasonal Considerations

While you can paint interior surfaces any time of year, there are seasonal considerations when planning the best time to paint exterior concrete surfaces.

Spring and fall are generally considered optimal times for repainting concrete, but you’ll still want to avoid rainy periods. The moderate temperatures and lower humidity during autumn make it the top choice for most homeowners.

Extremely high temperatures during the summer make it less conducive to painting. If you have to paint during the summer, try to do it during the early morning or late evening and cover the area with shade.

Signs of Deterioration

repairing cracked cementrepairing cracked cement

Everything from environmental factors and design defects can lead to concrete deterioration. Painting concrete isn’t magic, and it won’t fix serious problems. It’s important to thoroughly assess the condition of your concrete surface before you start. 

Here are the most common signs of deterioration:

  • Cracking–Surface fissures caused by settling or improper curing.
  • Spalling–Deterioration of the surface layer of concrete.
  • Pitting–Small holes or divots in the surface of concrete.
  • Reinforcement corrosion–Rust that expands inside the concrete and causes it to crack and stain.
  • Crumbling–Breakage at the edges due to age, weathering, and erosion.

Planning and Preparation

Prepping concrete is easy when it’s brand new, but it has to be cured for at least 60 days before you can paint it. 

Old concrete takes a bit more work to prepare. Repairing cracks and minor imperfections ensures proper adhesion and long-lasting durability.

There’s still lots more to paint, like the outside of your house and your vinyl siding!

Painting Step-by-Step

With careful preparation and proper timing, painting concrete lets you enjoy a beautiful, lasting finish. Here’s a step-by-step guide to show you how to paint cement walls, floors, driveways, and sidewalks. 

Materials and Tools

painting toolspainting tools

Different paint methods can be used depending on the application and the type of paint you choose. Gather the following tools and materials before you start painting: 

  • Paint and primer
  • Brushes, rollers, sprayers
  • Masking material, drop cloths, and painter’s tape
  • Rags and buckets of water for cleanup
  • Solvent for oil-based paint cleanup
  • Nutrile gloves and safety gear

Take care of your tools, and your tools will take care of you. Learn how to clean and care for paintbrushes.

Surface Preparation

preparing concrete floor for paintingpreparing concrete floor for painting

Concrete must be cleaned before painting to ensure proper adhesion. To prep concrete, start by removing debris and stains. 

Use a cleaning and etching solution and a power washer or wire brush to get rid of any loose paint or concrete. The etching solution will roughen the surface and give the paint something to adhere to.

Concrete must also be dry before painting, which takes longer in some climates. Use a masonry crack filler to fill any cracks wider than the edge of a credit card.

Application Techniques

The type of paint you choose will help determine the best application technique. Concrete paint can be rolled, brushed, and sprayed onto concrete surfaces.

The surface you’re painting and its location are important in helping you select the proper application technique. 

Drying and Curing

Most paints are dry to the touch within a few hours, but some take up to 72 hours to dry completely. Always read the manufacturer’s guidelines about paint drying times and consider temperature and humidity.

Tips for Painting Cement Surfaces

The best way to paint cement depends on the sealant you’re using and the size of the area you’re painting. Use these tips and tricks to find the best way to paint concrete walls and other surfaces.

Choosing the Right Paint

choosing the right paint for concretechoosing the right paint for concrete

Picking the right paint can get a little tricky. Not only are there many ways concrete is used but there are also different types of paint available. 

Here are a few factors to consider when choosing paint:

  • Interior vs. exterior applications
  • Amount of traffic
  • Anti-slip coatings
  • Gloss
  • Weather resistance
  • Ease of maintenance and cleanup
  • Life expectancy
  • Color and design

Proper Application

Just like regular paint, concrete paint be applied using various techniques, including spraying, rolling, and brushing. How you apply cement paint depends on the type of paint you choose. 

Maintenance and Touch-Ups

Some concrete paint products require frequent touch-ups. Remember that maintaining the paint job on a sidewalk or wall is much different than caring for an epoxy concrete floor. 

Additional Considerations When Painting Concrete

Here are a few additional factors to consider when painting concrete.

Safety Precautions

Safety should be your priority whenever you’re working around the home on a DIY project. When painting, wear protective gear and ensure proper ventilation, especially if you’re working indoors with chemical solvent-based paint.

Environmental Impact

When choosing, applying, and disposing of paint products, tools, and materials, ensure that you take the proper steps to protect the environment. Choosing low-VOC and water-based paints is much safer for humans, wildlife, and ecosystems, and it’s a lot easier to dispose of properly.

Specialized Concrete Surfaces

Many types of specialized concrete surfaces, from stamped concrete to projects made with specialty cement, contain various components designed to achieve specific results. When working with a specialty cement product, take extra care to select the right paint. 

If you aren’t sure what type of concrete paint to use, reach out to a paint representative online or ask your local hardware paint specialist for advice.

How to Paint Concrete FAQ

Can I paint over old, peeling paint on cement surfaces?

It’s possible to paint over old, peeling paint on concrete surfaces, but it’s not recommended. Removing loose paint and sanding the surface ensures proper adhesion.

What type of paint is best for outdoor cement?

When painting exterior concrete, it’s best to use concrete epoxy paints. A two-part epoxy resin is the best concrete sealer for garage floors and driveways. There are many types, brands, and colors to choose from at various price points.

Do I need to seal painted concrete?

Using a sealant over painted concrete isn’t necessary with most types of concrete paint. However, a sealer is a good idea if you want a high gloss coating or better chemical and stain resistance.

How long does painted concrete last before needing a touch-up?

Most concrete paints last about 3 to 7 years, depending on the sealant you’re using and the conditions your painted concrete is subjected to. Some epoxy and urethane coatings last up to 10 years.

Can I paint over cracks in cement?

Paint works wonders for enhancing the durability and appearance of concrete, but it’s not a fix-all. The rule of thumb for painting over cracks in cement is that if it’s wider than the edge of a credit card, you need to repair it before applying paint.
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