How to Paint Concrete to Cover Cracks or Stains for a Fresh Start

Learn how to paint concrete to give plain surfaces a whole new look and score major curb appeal points for your concrete stairs and walkways.

painted concrete front porch
Project Overview
  • Working Time: 4 hours
  • Total Time: 5 days
  • Skill Level: Intermediate

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!

infographic on how to paint concrete

BHG / Jiaqi Zhou

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

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


  • Vinyl concrete patching compound
  • Sandpaper
  • Cleaner, degreaser, and etcher
  • Concrete sealing primer
  • Painters tape
  • Non-skid concrete paint
  • Grit additive, if needed


  1. use a stiff-bristle brush to remove loose concrete or debris

    Clean Off Concrete

    Use a stiff-bristle brush to remove loose 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.

    Editor's tip: If you're working with an interior concrete floor or walls and signs of water damage are already there, painting over it won't fix the underlying problem. If you're unsure, have a professional check it out.

    Related: How to Use a Pressure Washer to Clean Your Home's Exterior, Driveway, and More

  2. patch small holes or cracks using a putty knife

    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.

    Related: How to Repair Cracks in a Concrete Driveway

  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, protective glasses, and gloves.

  4. prep steps with a concrete cleaner, degreaser, and etcher

    Prep Concrete for Paint

    Prep steps with a concrete cleaner, degreaser, and etcher following manufacturer's instructions. Give the concrete another rinse with a powerwasher before this step, if needed. 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.

  5. Prime and Paint

    Check the weather for the days you plan to paint so any outdoor paint will have a chance to dry. Cover any rust spots with 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. If you are painting up to the edge of your house or walls, tape off the base so you don't get any paint on your siding. Paint the area of your choice with a clean finish. If your paint is not non-skid, apply a second coat with a non-skid grit additive for better traction.

    Editor's tip: Fresh concrete cannot be painted. If your home is new, consult with your contractor to find out when the concrete will be ready to paint (usually after about a month or two).

    Related: 23 Ways to Add Curb Appeal for the Best Front Yard on the Block

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