How To Paint A Concrete Patio

If you’re wondering how to paint a concrete patio and if its worth it, here’s the good news- its easy and yes, its worth it.

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We have a really old concrete patio off of our basement that has seen better days. It wasn’t getting much use. I wanted to clean the space up, and add some furniture to make it a hang out are for our kids and a place to put our fire pit. We didn’t want to spend a bunch of money on the project. After some research, we determined the best way to give this area makeover was to refresh the concrete surface with a fresh coat of paint. 

Our back patio- BEFORE

I’ve never painted concrete before, so I was a little unsure how the process would go. It turns out, a fresh coat of paint on old concrete has the same impact as it does on interior walls or cabinets- instant upgrade! I’m so pleased with how this turned out that my next painting project is going to be our front porch surface!

Our back patio- AFTER

How to Paint a Concrete Patio

Before you even begin the first step to your outdoor patio makeover- check the weather forecast! Most exterior paints require a long dry time- anywhere from 6 to 24 hours. You can ruin your newly painted patio surface by not planning ahead. Make sure there’s no rain or super cold temperatures in the next few days.

Step 1: Prep The Concrete Slab

Pressure wash the concrete for a deep clean.

The first step is to painting a concrete patio is giving the entire surface a really good cleaning. Our patio area was filled with dirt, leaves and other debris after winter storms and months of neglect. We started by leaf blowing the surface of the concrete to get rid of the debris. Then we used our pressure washer to give it a really good cleaning.

For best results, use a concrete cleaner in your pressure washer. Or, use a stiff brush to scrub it in on the patio floor and then rinse it off with clean water. This will help with the longevity of the paint, as it helps the paint stick to the surface better. Its also a good idea to clean out any cracks and chips with your pressure washer, especially if you plan to cover them with crack filler.

Step 2: Fill in The Cracks

Use a concrete and crack filler before painting.

We bought a concrete crack filler and filled in the chips and cracks on the floor. There are several options out there- we used Sakrete Concrete Crack Filler. If you skip this step, not only will your end result not look as good, but you’ll lose a bunch of paint filling in these areas. And concrete soaks up enough paint as it is! Let that dry for at least a day.

Hot Tip: I HIGHLY recommend, if possible, going from step to step as quickly as possible (taking into account the time it takes to dry.) Because you’re working with a horizontal surface, you’ll find it gets dirty faster. You may have a lot of foot traffic, and its all too easy for the area to get dirty before you’ve even started the painting process. We had to take a couple week break between filling in the cracks and painting, (spring break trip to Washington DC!) which meant we had to clean the surface all over again. It wasn’t as bad as the first time, of course, but it still took extra time.

Step 3: Choose Your Paint Brand and Paint Color

The slate grey looked really blue in the bright sunlight!

In my opinion, this is the most important step to creating the perfect outdoor space. The shade of your paint and the durability in high traffic areas will affect your overall results and its what you’ll ultimately notice the most! We chose Behr Porch and Patio Floor Paint, because its rated high, had a few color options, and had a high durability rating. 

Here’s a really important part- test your paint before you start!! We went with slate grey and as you can see from the pictures- it did NOT come out looking slate grey. This back porch is typically in bright sunlight, and the color is going to look completely different here than it would on, say, our concrete porch in the front of the house that is typically in shade.

It came out looking WAY more blue than we wanted.  I had a mini freak-out where I considered going back to the store and getting a different color paint, but decided to keep going and see how it looked after it dried. After letting the paint sit for a day, we decided we actually really liked it. We were going for a bright, pretty vibe in this area, and so a darker color may have looked a little drab.

But if that’s not what you’re going for- test, test, test! You can have most new paint tinted to the color you want. 

Depending on what type of concrete paint you use, you’ll need to determine if you should use a concrete primer as a base coat. In retrospect, because of how old our concrete floor is and how much paint we ended up using, a primer would have been a good idea. You can use a concrete and masonry bonding primer, which will help create a strong adhesion and cut down on how much paint you end up using. Because we skipped this step, we used a LOT of paint and probably an extra coat that would not have been necessary. 

Step 4: Paint The Concrete

We ended up doing three coats and using up more paint than we planned.

Use a roller brush with a long handle to apply the paint evenly on the concrete patio. Use a roller with a 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick nap for best results. For edges and corners,  use a paint brush. If you’re worried about edging, get out the frog tape to tape off the edges so you get clean lines.

If you have an HVAC system in this area, like we do, make sure you shut it off while you paint so you don’t get any condensation or leaks!

Make sure to apply a thin coat of paint and let it dry completely before adding another coat. 

You can see here that one coat barely covered the concrete:

Concrete really sucks up paint- be prepared to do more than two coats! We went through 3 and a half gallons of paint for this relatively small back patio, despite the can saying it would cover more. It was necessary thanks to how porous our concrete is.

Once the concrete is completely dry, you can add a second (or third) coat. 

Step 5: Care for Your Patio

Once the paint is dry and your patio looks amazing, it’s important to take care of it. Avoid dragging heavy furniture or sharp objects across the painted surface to prevent scratches. You can also clean the patio with a gentle soap and water mixture to keep it looking fresh.

I’ve now added painting concrete floors to my list of projects that I’m obsessed with- its a relatively easy DIY project with a huge reward! You can read all about our concrete patio refresh here. I’m so excited to start using this outdoor area this spring and summer. 

Obsessed with our new painted concrete patio!

Check out our other outdoor areas in these posts:

Detached Garage Makeover (On a Budget)

DIY Patio Ideas to Transform Your Backyard

Our Backyard Makeover- Pool, Deck, Patio and Sauna

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