Painting a Basement Floor

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Preparing to Paint a Basement Floor

I have a basement floor that is 20 years old. It has never been painted and has developed some cracks. During spring rains, I can see some moisture coming through the cracks. It also has some oil on it from storing a lawn mower. How do I repair the cracks? How do I prepare for painting? What type paint would be recommended? Is priming required? Your help is appreciated.

Seal the Cracks

If you will look in the sealant aisle at your favorite home improvement store, you will find a concrete patch to fix the cracks. Then there is a sealant that contains silicone to fill in the small nooks and crannies in concrete, and seals the entire thing. At this point, you can paint, or just leave as is. Most of the patches and sealants are "latex," so they clean up easily with warm water and soap.
Candy J. in TN

Don't Skip This Important Step

UGL has a great paint/sealer for concrete (double check that it can be used on the floor though). If it cannot be used, then there are products at your local hardware store for filling in concrete cracks in caulking and other forms.

As for painting, you have to etch the floor with muriatic acid if you plan on painting the floor. If you don't, then you will have other problems. (If you have any leftover muriatic acid, do not store near metal as it rusts it. I would give it to anyone who has a pool as they might have a use for it.) My husband and I used to own a hardware store. When people skipped this step, they were sorry.

There are paints you can use. I personally would recommend oil-based floor paint and dilute the first coat for a primer as stated on the can.

As for the oil on the floor, you might be able to clean some of that up with Simple Green.

The most important step is to read all the labels and follow any and all manufacturer's directions!
Debbie in MA

Do You Need a Sump Pump?

I just encountered the same problem when we relocated to live with my elderly mother-in-law.

There are products on the market for about $40 to $60 max per can that waterproof cement walls and can be used on floors. It is a membrane type of vinyl coating that allows for expansion and contractions of walls while repelling water from the wall or floor surface. Prep the surface according to the directions or you will find the product not working as well as it could and potentially void a warranty. For those that are into being green, this type of product does give off VOCs and we could smell it the first two weeks it was applied. Afterwards, the smell was gone and we brought in people to confirm whether or not there was a noticeable odor.

I highly recommend that you use a sealant for the cracks you presently have before using this type of product though. Using additional cement and/or silicone may be a solution to the problem before applying a membrane application.

Another thing one needs to consider is whether or not the house has tiling around it and/or a sump pump. These cracks can be from too much moisture as well as climatic changes. A sump pump can potentially be a solution to prevent future problems with the floor.

Putting in a sump pump, repairing the cracks, and using the membrane sealant have resulted in a completely dry basement in this very wet season.
Denise M. in Fort Dodge, IA

Have a Professional Take a Look

Unfortunately, he needs to call a professional; that type of damage to the slab suggests, at least potentially, similar damage to the foundation. There are some cement sealing products he could use. I used one on my driveway to good effect, but the risk to his foundation is too high for a do-it-yourself quick fix to be appropriate in this situation.

Once the damage has been assessed and repaired, the best paint to use would be garage floor paint/sealer; it is designed for cement surfaces, and repels moisture. Having used it myself, I can say that it's very easy to paint a floor with a roller as long as the surface is clean and smooth.

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