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What Are the Pros and Cons of Painting Cement Floors?

Autumn Rivers
Updated May 16, 2024
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An unpainted cement floor often can be made more attractive with a few coats of paint, which is why this is frequently considered a beneficial home upgrade. This is especially true when the space will be used as more than just a place to park a car or store belongings. Not only does this usually make the floor nice to look at, but it also can hide imperfections, such as stains and cracks. Before painting cement floors, though, homeowners usually are advised to consider hiring a professional to do the job, which can add to the expense.

Painting cement floors can be a simple way to improve the look so the floor does not look as plain. This can be especially appealing when the area will be used as a bedroom, office or den that will be used often, rather just a garage or unfinished basement. Applying paint can allow homeowners to customize the surface the way they want it to look. An added bonus is that the improved floor appearance also may appeal to potential home buyers when the house is on the market, because it often is considered an attractive upgrade.

Another benefit of painting cement floors is that the color often can hide imperfections in the surface. For example, it can make current stains harder to see, especially if the paint color is dark. It also may prevent future stains, which can be especially helpful for families who expect to have small children or pets in the area. In the event that a light color is selected from the many paint choices available and a stain does appear on the surface, it often can be cleaned up easier than it would be on a carpeted cement floor. In addition, any cracks in the cement might be able to be covered up with paint, allowing homeowners to skip filling the crack with another material.

While painting cement floors generally is considered beneficial, the main drawback is that it is not typically easy for the average homeowner to do alone. The floor often has to be prepared, which means it should be free of moisture, grease and surface bumps. In some cases the floor needs an acid etch to prevent peeling and chipping paint, and this often needs to be performed by a professional to avoid the health risks that come with the process. Once the paint is applied to the surface, a sealer usually should be added over it, which can make painting cement floors a complicated job that may take days to complete. For this reason, homeowners usually are encouraged to hire a professional to paint their concrete floor, which means this home upgrade tends to cost more than just the price of paint.

How To Paint Cement Floor

A concrete floor doesn’t have to look drab and gray. Homeowners can transform a space such as an unfinished basement or garage by painting the cement floors. While some individuals may choose to hire a professional service, it's possible to complete this project at home with elbow grease and a little patience.

Clean the Space

Rigorous cleaning is a must before undertaking any painting project. The first course of action is to remove clutter and furniture from the room before painting begins.

Once the area is free of any mess or obstacles, vacuum and mop the floor thoroughly. Wait for the floor to dry completely before moving forward. Paint will only adhere to a clean surface, so this part of the process may need to be repeated once or twice to ensure the floor is spotless.

Fill Cracks

A few coats of paint may cover up small imperfections in a cement floor, but concrete filler can take care of much larger, more unsightly cracks. Use a caulking gun to disperse the filler in any gaping cracks and smooth it out with a putty knife. Allow it to dry fully before applying paint.

Apply Primer and Paint

Before you buy primer and paint, be sure to research which ones are compatible with your cement floors to ensure the longevity of the finished look. Once the prep work is complete and you’ve got the paint and materials in hand, it's time to follow these steps:

  1. Apply a primer coat using a paintbrush or roller.
  2. Cover the floor completely, then allow it to dry.
  3. Mix the paint according to the instructions on the packaging.
  4. Clean off any brushes or rollers used for the primer, then apply the paint in as many layers as needed. Each layer will need time to dry before you can apply a new one.

How To Remove Paint From Cement Floor

In some cases, homeowners may want to remove layers of paint from a cement floor when renovating a space. Luckily, there are methods and materials available to accomplish this task.

Use Paint Stripper

Chemical stripping agents can be useful when removing paint from concrete surfaces. Before using paint stripper, you will need to learn which product will be most effective against different types of paint. For example, some products are formulated to remove water-based paint, and others will only work on oil-based paint.

Most formulas have a gel-like consistency that can be applied with a paintbrush or roller. The paint stripper will need time to set, which can take up to 24 hours. Once the paint is broken down, it can be peeled away from the surface using a scraper tool.

Use Caution

When you’re using a paint stripper, protective clothing and respirator masks are highly recommended. Inhaling the chemical fumes from this product can pose a serious threat to your health. Consider hiring a professional who specializes in removing paint from concrete to avoid this risk.

What Kind of Paint To Use on Cement Floor

Determining which kind of paint to use on a cement floor depends on how much foot traffic is expected in an area and how much you’re willing to spend. There are two types of paint commonly used:

  • Latex acrylic: This kind of paint is inexpensive and available at most hardware stores. Latex-based paint can quickly adhere to concrete surfaces but may fade or peel away after heavy foot traffic. Floors treated with latex acrylic paint will likely need new coats of paint frequently.
  • Floor epoxy: This is the more durable option for cement floors. Epoxy paint contains resin, which hardens as it dries. While typically more expensive, it is more resistant to impact and stains than other products.
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Autumn Rivers
By Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers, a talented writer for HomeQuestionsAnswered, holds a B.A. in Journalism from Arizona State University. Her background in journalism helps her create well-researched and engaging content, providing readers with valuable insights and information on a variety of subjects.

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Discussion Comments
By Sporkasia — On Jun 20, 2014

If you are able to power wash your concrete floor then you don't necessarily need any cement floor paint. A complete power washing will clean the floor and improve the appearance. You can use some type of filler to cover any cracks that might be in the concrete. This is much less work than painting the floor.

By mobilian33 — On Jun 20, 2014

The best way to clean and prepare a concrete floor for painting is to power wash it a couple days before you begin to put the paint on. The power washing cleans away the grit, sand and stains better than anything else. I know power washing won't work for all areas. It depends on where the floor is located, but when possible you should try it.

You want to be sure the floor is completely dry before you start painting. That's why I say you should wait a couple days after the washing.

By Drentel — On Jun 19, 2014

I paint both the concrete porch on my outside building and the concrete floor in my garage. Like the article says, the paint makes the concrete look much better. I use a dark color in the garage so it will not show all of the oil and grease spills.

I agree with the article where it says that painting concrete floors can be complicated. However, I don't think the job is hard. The biggest thing you have to do is make sure you give yourself plenty of time and start the job knowing that you need to take your time and do it right. When you try to rush through the job is when you end up making a mess.

Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers, a talented writer for HomeQuestionsAnswered, holds a B.A. in Journalism from Arizona State University. Her background in journalism helps her create well-researched and engaging content, providing readers with valuable insights and information on a variety of subjects.
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