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Not just any color is suitable for painting concrete building blocks. Special concrete paint should be used for the floor or wall. What exactly this is and what criteria you need to pay attention to when buying concrete paint, we tell you in our concrete paint guide.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is concrete paint?
- 2 Advantages and disadvantages of concrete paint
- 3 The right concrete color for interior areas / Areas of application
- 4 The best concrete color for outdoor areas / areas of application
- 5 Buy criteria for cement paint
- 6 How to Paint Concrete inside and outside
- 7 Frequently asked questions and answers
- 7.1 Is concrete paint waterproof?
- 7.2 Can concrete paint be applied directly to the bare concrete?
- 7.3 How long must concrete paint dry?
- 7.4 How to remove concrete paint?
- 7.5 What does concrete paint cost?
- 7.6 How long does concrete paint last?
- 7.7 What is the difference between a concrete paint and a concrete glaze?
What is concrete paint?
Concrete is a versatile material that is used especially for walls and masonry, but also as flooring. However, casting concrete alone is not enough: the material is not only a dull shade of grey, it is also very porous and must be protected from damaging influences in order to increase its durability. For this purpose it must be glazed or painted.
If you want to paint a concrete substrate, concrete paint is just the thing for you. It not only enhances the surface visually, but also protects it from environmental influences. Damage caused by weather and chemicals is optimally repelled by concrete paint, including rust damage. The latter can be caused by too much moisture in the material and, in the worst case, can lead to static problems and expensive repairs.
It does not matter which concrete substrate is involved, because concrete paint is suitable for
- Cellar floors
- Pedestals and pillars
- Garage floors and walls
- Art objects made of concrete
Cement paints are available both as 1K cement paints and as 2K foundation paints. 2K concrete colors are for example epoxy resin concrete colors. They consist of two components that react as soon as they come into contact with each other. They are pleasant to apply and offer high durability and easy maintenance. Cleaning is very easy, as the epoxy resin basement paint has an almost mirror-smooth surface. Furthermore, epoxy concrete paints are not only environmentally friendly; they are even available with an antibacterial effect, which makes their maintenance even easier.
Epoxy concrete paint for the floor or wall also has the advantage of being able to be applied to all existing coatings. After a very short drying time, the 2K concrete paint is extremely hard-wearing.
Advantages and disadvantages of concrete paint
With numerous advantages, concrete has only two disadvantages, but these are not particularly serious:
Neither of these factors can really be considered as real disadvantages; this applies in particular to price. For example, concrete paint greatly increases the durability of the underlying material, which, in the long run, saves money and time. Also the previous priming of some concrete paints cannot be considered a real disadvantage, because it is neither very time-consuming nor costly.
The right concrete color for interior areas / Areas of application
There are differences between concrete paint for exterior use and concrete paint for interior use that should not be ignored. For example, concrete paints for exterior use often contain biocidal substances, as they are intended to protect the underlying masonry from algae and moss formation. Of course, paints containing substances that are hazardous to health are not suitable for indoor use. In addition, UV resistance plays only a minor role here. An exception to this is rooms that are very light-flooded, for example those with glass fronts.
On the other hand, diffusion openness plays a major role. The colors should be easily permeable to water so that the moisture that inevitably arises indoors does not settle on the walls and can escape.
The following colors are suitable for interior concrete coating:
- Chalk colors
- Lime paints
- Acrylic colors
- Silicate paints
Concrete walls inside
Due to their alkaline PH value, silicate paints are excellently suited as an interior concrete paint. They optimally prevent mould formation. They are also easy to apply and are harmless to humans and animals.
In the interior, concrete walls can be designed not only in one color, but also with large-area motifs. For example, you can apply colorful works of art or gaudy graffiti with concrete paint. For this purpose, you should first prime the substrate to be able to obtain the desired color result afterwards.
Paint a concrete floor
In order to find the right concrete color for your concrete floor, you must first consider the loads to which the floor will be exposed. A concrete floor in a garage or workshop is subject to different mechanical loads than one in a living room.
In the interior of an apartment, the paints should be non-toxic above all, but also have a high durability. The colors should not fade and should have a certain UV resistance in bright rooms with large windows.
If a garage floor is to be painted with concrete paint, mechanical stress from furniture and shoes is added to the abrasion from car tyres and possibly heavy tools. The cement paint for the garage floor should therefore be very hard-wearing, but also resistant to softeners from car tyres and other chemicals. Two-component paints based on epoxy resin or acrylic copolymer paints are particularly suitable for this purpose. These work on a dispersion basis. The latter are not quite as hardwearing and waterproof as 2K epoxy paints; however, they can be applied immediately without having to be mixed.
The best concrete color for outdoor areas / areas of application
The areas of application for exterior concrete paint are many and varied. Not only facades, garden walls and sculptures can be protected with the appropriate exterior concrete paint, but also swimming pools, ponds and fountains.
Which properties the concrete paint should have varies. For a fountain or a pond, the concrete paint should be as waterproof as possible, but also algae repellent. For this it needs a slightly biocidal effect. However, care should be taken when using it in swimming pools or ponds with fish, because biocides are of course not without danger for humans and animals.
An exterior concrete paint for patios and balconies should have a high UV and weather resistance, just like a paint for facades. Concrete terrace slabs in particular are exposed to many different weather conditions. As a result, unsightly stains can form or terrace slabs exposed to the blazing sun can fade more over time than those in shadow. By painting the outside of the terrace with concrete paint, you can easily repair such damage and restore an attractive appearance and increased protection factor. At the same time, painting with concrete paint for outdoor use is not as time-consuming and costly as replacing individual patio slabs or tiles.
Exterior Walls and Floors
In order to decide on the right concrete color for the exterior, you have to consider several things. All walls that are located outside are exposed to weather conditions. Bouncing sun or light and shade, rain, storm, snow and hail can considerably reduce the life of concrete. With the right choice of color you can protect the concrete wall optimally.
Concrete substrates that are located in shady and damp places often show heavy moss. This can literally eat away at the concrete. To protect the substrate from this, it is best to choose a concrete paint with a biocidal effect. However, you should only use such a paint if it is unavoidable, because it is not only harmful to the moss on the concrete wall, but also to the rest of the environment.
Our recommendation is a concrete paint based on pure acrylate, which can be diluted with water. This offers several advantages:
Concrete garden wall
Most concrete garden walls have a special feature compared to house facades: They are exposed to the weather and pollutants from the environment from several sides without protection. It is therefore essential to use special wall paint to protect your garden wall. An alternative to the wall paint is the base paint, which can also withstand high stresses and strains.
Buy criteria for cement paint
If you have to decide on a concrete color, you should consider several factors. First of all, it should be selected according to its field of application. If you want to buy a cement paint for the outside of your terrace, it must have different properties than a concrete paint for the floor in the bedroom. For example, if you want to apply the paint on the floor of a sports hall or school, it should be slip-resistant to reduce the risk of injury.
Apart from that, you should calculate the amount of paint required before you buy, otherwise you will have to invest too much money and, at worst, dispose of the paint you don’t need. So calculate the paint consumption per square metre or follow the manufacturer’s instructions, because often an approximate consumption quantity is already given by the manufacturer.
If you want to calculate the amount of paint yourself, you must proceed as follows: Calculate with one liter of paint per six square meters of surface.
An exception to this rule is the application of paint with a spray gun, because the paint to be applied must be diluted. You will therefore need a little less paint per square metre. If you are unsure about this, it is best to contact the manufacturer or the dealer.
What else you should pay attention to, we will tell you in our Buy basement paint guide below.
Underground / Concrete Primer
Concrete paint is suitable for many substrates, but not for all. In order to achieve the best possible results, you should know exactly whether the chosen color is optimal for your purpose.
Concrete paint is suitable for concrete walls and floors, but also for house plinths, swimming pool and fountain floors. In principle, concrete paint can be used on all mineral surfaces, provided they have been prepared in the best possible way. How this is done, we will tell you later in our guide. You always can use a concrete primer first.
Straight concrete paint for outdoor use must have different resistances to increase the durability. Concrete paint for exterior walls should not only be resistant to moss and mould formation, but should also be as diffusion-open as possible, as it should optimally support the exchange of moisture.
It should be noted that the substrate in the exterior area must not only be clean but also free of moss, mould and lichens before the concrete paint is applied. Their spores can have a lasting effect on the resistance of the concrete paint for exterior use.
Resistance to yellowing plays a particularly important role when used outdoors. In addition, the chosen concrete color should of course be UV-resistant, otherwise cracks or gaps will form in the color over time.
Apart from the resistances for outdoor use, concrete paints have different positive properties that can increase the life of the substrate. For example, many concrete paints offer the user high abrasion and impact resistance, which makes them the ideal paint for garages and workshops.
Other concrete paints increase the resistance to treading and also offer the observer an attractive appearance. They are also non-toxic. These concrete paints are perfect for the interior of houses and apartments.
It is therefore important to read carefully and choose the right color for your purpose. You can also get advice online.
Desired color tone
If you want to buy concrete paint, you should of course pay attention to the desired color shade. Concrete paint for exterior and interior use is available in all imaginable colors.
Concrete color anthracite is available as well as concrete color in green, yellow or blue. The color is based on the so-called RAL color code. This is a universal code that is used worldwide to determine color tones. It is composed of the letters RAL and a sequence of numbers for the respective color tone. Concrete color anthracite for example has the RAL color code RAL-7016.
Each supplier provides a RAL list so that the customer can get an overview and order the desired color simply.
But not only the color tone is significantly responsible for the result, but also the degree of gloss. This indicates the degree to which the light falling on the substrate is swallowed or reflected. Thus, in the end, the applied color appears either matt or shiny. The degree of gloss has nothing to do with weather resistance, mould resistance or resistance to stress. You can therefore choose the degree of gloss that suits you best.
The degree of gloss is divided as follows:
- Dull matt
- silk mat
- High gloss
Keep in mind that shiny colors usually attract more attention than matt colors. Especially in sanitary rooms it is possible that soiling caused by glossy colors is more noticeable than by matt colors.
How to Paint Concrete inside and outside
In order to apply a concrete paint and to achieve not only a brilliant but also a long-lasting result, several things have to be considered. In the following we give you instructions for painting with concrete paint.
To achieve perfect adhesion of the concrete paint, the substrate must first be prepared. This includes removing the paint that is still on it. This can be done with a wire brush for smaller areas. However, this process is quicker and more effective when using a sandblaster or high-pressure cleaner.
Alternatively, you can stain the surface. However, you should make sure that the stain is suitable for the underlying layer of paint and that the substrate is resistant to the stain. In case of doubt, sandblasting is the better solution.
Burning away the old concrete paint using hot air is also a possibility, but this too has its limitations. Not every concrete paint can be removed with heat and not every floor tolerates this treatment well. In addition, this process produces vapours that are not particularly beneficial to health.
If you want to remove the old paint by pickling or hot air, it is best to contact a specialist beforehand.
After the old paint has been removed, the surface to be painted must be thoroughly cleaned. There must be no dust, dirt, oil or grease stains on the surface during the painting process. A floor that is to be painted with concrete paint is therefore first vacuumed and then freed from grease and oil stains with special cleaners. This last step is very important, as no concrete paint will stick to a greasy or oily surface.
Now you can fill cracks, dents and gaps with a levelling compound or epoxy resin mortar. Allow the areas to dry thoroughly and sand them down to obtain an even surface. Afterwards, the surface must of course be cleaned of dust again.
Once you have levelled out any unevenness and cleaned the substrate, it may still need to be roughened. This leads to a better adhesion of the paint. You can use a special etching solution for this purpose.
In order to achieve optimum paint adhesion, the substrate must usually be primed. Which concrete primer you use depends on the concrete color you want to apply. For the respective recommendations, refer to the data sheet of the paint or contact the manufacturer. Either prime with Tiefengrund or simply with diluted paint. For the amount of water used for dilution, it is also best to refer to the data sheet.
In rooms with high humidity, it is also recommended to apply a sealing coat before applying the paint. Allow all coats to dry thoroughly and give them a little more time to do so rather than too little.
Application of the concrete paint
When the previously applied layers are well dried, you must first secure the work area. Especially if you do not want to cover the entire room with cement ground paint, areas that must remain free should be protected from the paint. To do this, you can apply foil to these areas or mask them.
Now you can apply the concrete paint. Use either a paint roller or a paint sprayer. A paint sprayer has several advantages when applying concrete paint. The application of the paint is quick and easy and the result is even and professional. A paint sprayer is particularly advantageous when applying concrete paint to walls.
The purchase of such a device is not exactly cheap, but it is worth it. A surface that has been sprayed instead of rolled is more weatherproof and more resistant to mould and chemicals. Especially on a wooden surface these advantages should not be underestimated. Also, the paint does not drip down as it does when using a paint roller – so application is not only faster and more professional, but also much cleaner. Remember that the paint must be thinned when using a spray gun, otherwise its nozzle will clog.
Especially when using a spray gun, personal safety must be taken into account! Use protective clothing and a breathing mask and ventilate the room thoroughly.
Let the paint dry well after painting. Please refer to the respective data sheet for the drying time.
After the first coat, a second coat may be necessary, for example if the substrate still shimmers through slightly or the color is not yet intense enough for your personal taste.
Care of the surface
How exactly the concrete surface is cleaned depends on where it is located and whether it has been sealed with the waterproof layer after application of the paint. In our guide we assume an unsealed layer of paint on an interior floor.
This should be cleaned as dry as possible, at most damp. After damp cleaning, it should be wiped dry and then given the opportunity for a complete drying process. For cleaning, use a care product that is adapted to the floor. This should be mild so that it does not attack the paint layer.
For stubborn stains, a cleaning agent that matches the concrete color should also be used. If you have any questions about this, please contact the manufacturer. Keep the reaction time of the cleaning agents as short as possible.
Frequently asked questions and answers
Is concrete paint waterproof?
Concrete is very porous, so it can absorb a large amount of water. Normally concrete paint is not completely waterproof, but it can be sealed with a special coating. For this purpose, you can use a concrete coating based on epoxy resin or polyurethane resin.
However, waterproof concrete paint is also available. This property is stated by the manufacturer on the container and the data sheet.
Can concrete paint be applied directly to the bare concrete?
Concrete paint can be applied directly to the bare concrete. More durable and therefore more sensible is however a previous priming and sealing, especially in damp rooms and in outdoor areas.
How long must concrete paint dry?
The drying time of the concrete paint is specified by the manufacturer. It also depends on the environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity.
How to remove concrete paint?
To remove old concrete paint, you have several options:
- Potentially harmful to health
- Substrate may be damaged
- Not suitable for all concrete colors
Removal with hot air
- Harmful to the environment and health, as toxic fumes are produced
- Fast and effective
- Suitable for large areas
- Fast and effective
- Suitable for large areas
Removal with a high pressure cleaner
- Fast and effective
- No generation of substances that are harmful to health
- Suitable for large areas
Wire brush removal
- Only slow work
- Not suitable for large areas
Removal with a tile chisel
- No substances of concern to health
- Less suitable for large areas
What does concrete paint cost?
The prices for concrete paint are highly variable. Of course there are also high quality concrete paints at a reasonable price. In general, however, what is true for most products applies: if you buy cheap, you buy twice. If you want a decent product, do not save at the wrong end.
So the price depends on the brand, but also on the color and the intended use. Concrete paint that is highly resistant to environmental influences often has a higher price than one that is not so resistant.
How long does concrete paint last?
How long the so-called service life of the concrete paint is, cannot be answered conclusively, as the stress and environmental conditions play a major role here. In general, concrete paint lasts up to twelve years under optimal conditions.
What is the difference between a concrete paint and a concrete glaze?
The difference lies in the fact that the concrete glaze does not change the original color of the concrete. The concrete glaze is merely a transparent layer to protect the concrete from environmental influences.