How to paint concrete

Peeling Concrete Porch Floor Paint

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Painting a Cement Floor

A few years ago, I painted the cement floor on my enclosed porch. The paint almost immediately started to peel in places. Now I am trying to figure out what to do. Should I strip the old paint and paint again with cement primer? If so, how do I strip the paint and with what? Should I cover it? The porch gets a lot of traffic from three adults, two kids and a dog. It is also frequently damp, so safety is an issue.

Consider Concrete Stain

Look at some concrete stains. You'll have to strip off the old paint and clean it, but I've had concrete stain for years and it lasts, even with two kids and bikes. It is fairly inexpensive if amortized, and it adds value to the home.

Epoxy Paint for Concrete

We used epoxy paint on our cement floor and it has held up to high traffic. It's a kit of two parts that you mix together. We got ours from Menards for under $40. The only prep we had to do was to clean the floor with an acid wash that was very cheap also.

Peeling Concrete Porch Floor Paint

Advice from a Painting Professional

On the painted porch floor that is coming up, my husband (who does this kind of thing for a living) suggests:

  • Use paint and varnish remover to remove the old paint, making sure you have plenty of ventilation.
  • High pressure wash it after you get done to remove all the old paint and stripper that is left.
  • Use a high quality deck and porch paint to repaint the porch.

Likely the paint peeled because there was moisture or some other foreign matter on the concrete when the paint was originally applied. Next time, make sure it is absolutely dry before applying the paint.

Related: How to Create Shade for Your Porch

Experience With Painting Concrete

When my husband and I moved into our new house, we couldn't afford to put floors in it yet! So I decided to seal and paint the concrete, which was great for a short-term solution.

When we were finally able to afford the tile to put down, we discovered that my art work made it impossible for the tile adhesive to work. So, we rented a machine from Home Depot that got the top layer of concrete and all the paint and sealer off in just a few hours (on a 15 x 16 space). It was messy but the machine did a beautiful job in a short time.

The moral of this story is don't paint or seal concrete you may want to put alternative flooring on. Use a concrete stain. It comes in just about any color. Rent the Home Depot concrete sanding machine. It ends up being cheaper and faster than all that stripping material and man-hours.
Samantha in Florida

Preparation Key to Painting Concrete

The first step is a complete stripping. I recommend Klean Strip Premium Stripper. Porch paint is high gloss and made to take the most abuse of any surface. Even with an abrasive mixed in for a non-slip walking surface, old floor paint won't accept a new coat without peeling.

Use metal scrapers such as a 1.5" putty knife for small spots and corners and a 4" to 6" or larger spackling blade for broader areas. Plastic scrapers work well for wood, but won't stand up to concrete. If you can get a 6" blade on a pole, do that. It makes the work easier.

Wear gloves and protective clothing including long pants and sleeves, and keep plenty of clean rags around. Stripper burns like heck.

Do a small area at a time, maybe one or two feet by two feet wide. It's easier to work in small segments and trying to do a large area at one time allows the stripper to dry completely out before you get around to stripping it. If a different size area works for you, do that, but start with a 1' x 2' area. Follow container instructions carefully. For instance, don't "paint" the stripper on, but try to apply it in a thick coat one time (actually, that's how pro painters regularly paint).

After the last application of stripper, finish up with a wire brush and whatever cleanup solvent is recommended on the stripper can. Again, for a larger floor, get a wire brush tapped for a pole. If a motorized wire brush is used (not recommended), use old clothes, long sleeves, rubber gloves, and eye goggles. Then quickly and thoroughly wash off all splatter from other surfaces, as stripper is strong stuff.

When finished stripping, wash surface thoroughly with a little laundry detergent in a lot of water. Buy a scrub brush that has a threaded hole for a broom type handle. Don't overdo the detergent. It will take forever to rinse out, and paint doesn't stick well to detergent, either.

If the floor had been used as a garage or workshop, thoroughly clean all spilled oil, grease, etc. If the laundry detergent doesn't do it, check out Amway's commercial garage floor cleaner or ask at Lowe's or Home Depot. (If the floors at your fave mechanic or lube place look clean, you might take a gallon jug and buy some of their commercial product from them. It used to come in 55-gallon drums.)

When thoroughly rinsed and dry, let dry some more. Any moisture sealed into the concrete by the paint can cause peeling. Then apply two coats (three is better) of a high quality high gloss latex porch paint with a good quality 9" roller with 3/8" nap. Before rolling each coat, cut-in all edges with a 2" trim brush. Roll in parallel strokes over the short length, using roller head on a pole of proper length (3' to 5' - 'depending').

Plan ahead and don't paint yourself into the proverbial corner. Each coat should be reasonably thin but not "weak," completely covering the surface. Follow drying instructions on paint, but if it says something like "Paint second coat within 2 hours or after 24 hours," wait for the full time but no more. People will be walking on this, so you want it hard and set well. (Confirm this information at the paint store.)

There usually isn't much choice of color in good cement porch paint, usually only gray, brick/barn red, and forest green. BLP used to make a very good latex concrete floor paint. Check the Yellow Pages for a paint store that handles BLP paints. Spend more money on the paint, do a professional job, and don't have to do it again for several years. It's worth the time and money to do it right.

If the surface gets wet frequently, you may want to add some kind of grit for a non-slip surface. Ask at the paint store for what kind and how much to use. Don't overdo this or you'll feel like you're walking on a sandy beach. And, the more grit you use, the faster your painted surface will wear out, and the harder to clean.

It's More than Just Concrete Paint

Unfortunately, you will have to strip the paint, but a good replacement that I've found is DuraCoat from

I've coated our 40-year-old garage floor that was covered with rust spots and all manner of stains, and now it has a nice, cleanable surface. You do have to get any oily substance up from the floor or it will not adhere. This stuff is what they use in commercial settings. It's more than just a paint.

Reviewed March 2018

Take the Next Step:

  • Learn how to decorate a cracked concrete slab.
  • Use these tips to decorate your porch inexpensively.
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  • Once those home improvements are done, why not take some time to improve your finances? The TDS ebook How to Conquer Your Debt No Matter How Much You Have can provide you with the tools you need to demolish your debt and rebuild your finances.
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