So you’ve just laid an excellent foundation, and now you’ve got wet concrete that is taking seemingly forever to dry. Wet concrete takes a little over 30 days to dry completely, and who wants to wait around an entire month? I mean, what’s the worst that would happen if you went ahead and painted the concrete while it was still wet?
When you paint concrete before it completely cures, you risk altering it in a bad way due to the changing chemicals in the drying concrete. The color of the paint you chose will be different once the concrete is dry, leaving you with an unwanted color, and the paint probably won’t even adhere.
Paint itself is full of chemicals and has a way of changing color when it’s dry, let alone when applied to wet concrete. In essence, when moisture and paint are involved, things can go amiss, so it’s best to do things the right way. Read on and learn how to save yourself time, money, and misery!
Why Painting Concrete Before It Dries Is a Bad Idea
As concrete dries, it hardens through a chemical process known as hydration.
As the name implies, the hardening happens because the water reacts with the cement, which in turn bonds all the components together.
Because of the water in the concrete’s composition, the color of the paint you selected – no matter if it’s light or dark – will be a full shade different after the concrete finally dries, meaning you’ll not get the color you were hoping to get.
Furthermore, as I mentioned above, the paint isn’t even likely to stay in place.
Because the concrete is still wet when you apply the paint, it won’t stick to the concrete like it should. Instead, it will dry and then peel off, meaning you’ll have to repaint the concrete again anyway.
For those reasons, it’s better just to wait.
Related article: What Do You Do When Spray Paint Doesn’t Stick?
How To Paint Concrete
Painting concrete correctly is easy and takes less time than if you tried to rush things.
If you paint too soon, you will just make a mess, costing you more time, labor, and materials. But if you do things the right way, you will only lose a month of your life.
1. Clean and Clear the Concrete
Now that it’s been 30 days and your concrete is completely dry, you are going to want to clean it. This step is essential.
You don’t want bits of dead leaves, dirt, and trash getting mixed up in your paint!
The paint coat will be lumpy, the lumps will peel off, and it will just look bad. Here’s how to avoid that:
- You’re going to need to clean the concrete with a pre-paint cleaner. I would recommend Simple Green Oxy Solve Total Outdoor Cleaner (available on Amazon.com). It’s designed to lift tough dirt and grease stains from various surfaces without the use of harsh chemicals. It’s more pet- and plant-friendly than other cleaners, and it gets the job done!
- Concrete tends to form a white powder on its surface (efflorescence) which you will need to scrape off as well. A masonry cleaner is ideal for this. Try Stone Pro Crystal Clean (available on Amazon.com). This cleaner will not only remove efflorescence but also prevent more buildup.
- And finally, you are going to want to remove all vines, leaves, and moss, as well as dirt and clinging roots. A pressure washer is the easiest way to do this.
2. Strip Old Paint
Now that the concrete is clear of dirt, grease, and grass; you will need to strip the old paint away.
This can be done either with a paint scraper or a power washer.
The paint scraper is the most inexpensive way, but it takes more work and “elbow grease.”
The power washer makes paint stripping easy, but it’s much more expensive.
3. Seal the Concrete
This step is for concrete that’s indoors, like a basement floor. Once again, water is the enemy.
It can move through concrete, creating a damp, dark environment that is unfortunately perfect for mold growth. The best way to prevent this is to seal interior concrete!
Seal the concrete with a masonry sealer, and be sure to mind the instructions.
Different sealers require different numbers of layers. Patience and attention to detail will go a long way when it comes to concrete.
4. Prime the Concrete
Next, prime the concrete. This will even out the surface.
Exterior foundations will need an exterior primer (block primer).
The interior foundations will need interior primer, so select according to your needs. Once the concrete is primed, wait up to eight hours before painting.
5. Paint the Concrete
And last but not least, the step you came here for: paint the concrete!
Be sure to use masonry paint specifically created for a concrete surface.
Other types of paint weren’t designed for the chemicals in concrete and will just crack and peel.
Also, allow the paint to dry between layers.
Check the video below to see how to prepare the concrete for painting:
So, in conclusion, taking your time, following instructions, and doing things right is worth it in the long run.
You’ll spend less time, less money, and less frustration!