Rescue Stained Concrete with Paint

Learn how to paint concrete to give plain surfaces a whole new look. A fresh coat of paint will make concrete stairs and walkways look like new and score you major curb appeal points.

Concrete is an inexpensive, durable building material, but all that gray can be a bit boring. You can paint or stain just about any concrete surface—a walkway, concrete stairs, concrete brick walls, or even a basement or garage floor. Weathered concrete with cracks or stains is difficult to fix without the patched section standing out, which is especially annoying in front-facing areas of a house. A coat of paint will help disguise repairs on concrete steps and walkways. The result is a clean and finished look that will give a home's entrance great curb appeal.

Don’t skimp on the preparation before painting concrete. Getting the surface as clean and smooth as possible will give you the best results. And when shopping for products, look for cleaners, and sealers that are specially formulated for concrete. Happy painting!

  • Working Time 4 Hours
  • Start to Finish 5 Days
  • Difficulty         Projects Kind of Hard
  • Involves Sanding, Sealing, Painting

What you need

Tools

  • Stiff bristle brush
  • Putty knife
  • Pole sander
  • Vacuum, if needed
  • Tack cloth, if needed
  • Paintbrush or roller
  • Protective gear

Materials

  • Vinyl concrete patching compound
  • Sandpaper
  • Cleaner, degreaser, and etcher
  • Concrete sealing primer
  • Non-skid concrete paint

How to do it

Step 1 Clean Off Concrete

Use a stiff-bristle brush to remove lose concrete or debris from trouble spots. If you’re working outdoors, rip out any moss or weeds from the cracks of your walkway. Need a deeper clean? Use a power washer to make sure everything is off the concrete. Let the concrete dry completely before moving on to the next steps.

Read these dos and don'ts of power washing first.

Step 2 Patch Holes and Cracks

Patch small holes or cracks using a putty knife and concrete compound. Let it cure. Follow the application and drying instructions on the packaging. Don’t worry about getting them perfect, as you’ll sand next.

Step 3 Sand Smooth

Sand off any rough spots or bumps. Sandpaper attached to an inexpensive pole sander lets you cover more ground faster without having to bend over. Try to get the surface as smooth as possible before painting. If you’re working inside, clean up your sanding residue with a vacuum. Be sure to wear a dust mask and protective glasses.

Step 4 Prep Concrete for Paint

Prep steps with a concrete cleaner, degreaser, and etcher following manufacturer's instructions. Read the labels; many of these products are sold as a 2-in-1 or all-in-one solution, so you may only need to use one. Always wear protective gear when working with any strong chemicals.

Step 5 Prime and Paint

Check the weather for the days you plan to paint so any outdoor paint will have a chance to dry. Apply concrete sealing primer and let dry fully before painting. Concrete is highly porous, so don’t skip the priming step or your paint won’t stick! Some paints come with primer already in the formula. If that’s the case, then you can dive right into painting. Choose a non-skid exterior or interior concrete paint accordingly, depending on what you’re painting. Finally, paint the area of your choice with a like-new, clean finish.

See even more ways to boost curb appeal.

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