This past weekend, we took the next step in our big carport renovation: painting the carport floor. For us, getting the floor “done” was second on the list of carport/patio priorities, right after the ceiling. We couldn’t very well have this nice, planked ceiling with an oil- and who-knows-what-else-stained floor below it. So, we decided that paint was the best, most cost-effective way to go. I guess I’m getting a little ahead of myself, though, because it took a lot of deliberation between Ash and me to finally work up the confidence to put those first few brush strokes on the concrete.
STEP 1 / RESEARCH / When we first started out on this floor painting journey, we thought we knew what to do: clean the floor and slap a few coats of paint down. No big deal, right? Yeah, not really. We read tons of horror stories about floor painting gone wrong and even watched several “I painted my floor and now it looks awful” videos on YouTube. That’s when we second guessed ourselves and took a step back. We thought that maybe painting the floor wasn’t the best idea and maybe we should look into resurfacing options or professional epoxy installation. We literally spent three hours at the computer in Ash’s office going over options, methods and products.
One thing we learned during our research was the “right” method of floor treatment is determined by whether your floor is sealed or not. The way to tell is to pour a small glass of water on your concrete. If the concrete gets dark and soaks up the water, that means it’s unsealed. If it doesn’t, and beads on the surface, that means it is sealed. Two points for chemistry, right? As it turned out, our concrete patio was not sealed, so that helped us decide what method of floor treatment to go with.
Once we throughly did our research, weighed out the pros and cons, we ultimately decided that painting the floor was the way to go – if it’s done the right way.
STEP 2 / SHOPPING / After our research session, it was time to go to the store and get everything we needed. If you’re planning on doing a similar project at your place, here’s a quick list of the supplies we ended up using:
- Pole Sander
- Long-handled brush
- Rubber gloves
- Chemical Odor Valved Respirator Mask (like this one)
- Behr Concrete & Masonry Bonding Primer (we used 1 gallon for an 18×19 floor)
- Behr 1-Part Epoxy Concrete & Garage Floor Paint (1 gallon)
- Rollers & Paint Brushes
Oh, and here’s a tip that might save you a few bucks: rather than buying a pole sander in the paint section of your local hardware store (where the sandpaper is), check the “building supplies” section. I ended up with a pole sander of comparable quality for about half the price.
STEP 3 / CLEANING / Wanting to get the floor as clean as possible, we wanted to focus especially on the more noticeable oil stains. In our research, we happened across a video on YouTube of a guy showing how to clean up oil stains on his concrete floor using cat litter. Basically, he put cat litter on the stains that he said had been there for quite a while, ground it in with his feet and let it sit for a while (I think he said 30 minutes). At that point, he swept up the cat litter, and his stains were magically less noticeable. Cat litter being cheap as it is, we decided we just had to try this method out on some of our older stains.
The application process was painless enough, but the only thing the kitty litter did to clean up the stains was cover them in a fine white powder and make a big mess. I can see where kitty litter might be great for fresh oil stains, and it might even work on “kind of old” stains, but for our set-in, been-there-a-long-time stains, not so much. By the way, it feels really weird buying kitty litter when you don’t own a cat. Just sayin’.
Now that we knew cat litter doesn’t work, we moved on to Plan B: bleach. First, I made sure to vacuum up all of the dirt (and kitty litter) I possibly could with a shop vacuum. Once that was done, I put on my mask and gloves and mixed up a 50/50 bleach and water solution. I then used my long-handled brush to scrub the entire surface and rinsed it down really well with the water hose. The cleaning process didn’t really make the floor look much better as a whole, but the oil stains were definitely lighter, and the floor was now free of dirt/grime – an excellent surface for painting.
STEP 4 / SANDING / For the next step, I attached the handle from my scrub brush to the pole sander. Using the same scrubbing motion as for cleaning, I worked my way from one side to the other, scuffing the surface little by little. In most places, I could barely tell if this was actually scuffing it up at all, but I kept trucking anyway.
The scuff sanding process helps the paint adhere to the concrete, thus preventing many of the horror stories we’d read so much about from happening to us (hopefully!). Once that was done, I gave the entire surface another rinse with the water hose. At this point, I was really eager to keep the ball rolling, but I wanted to make sure the floor was completely, 100% dry. To make double and triple sure, we waited until the next morning to start the priming process.
STEP 5 / PRIMING / Priming helps the paint bond to the surface you’re painting, rather than just sitting on top of the “old surface”. In the past, we’ve learned the hard way that a good layer of primer will go a long way in helping any painting project last longer. Same goes with concrete patio floors.
We used Behr’s Concrete & Masonry Bonding Primer to prep the carport surface. To apply it, I simply attached my scrub brush handle (Yep, that handle has a lot of different uses. Yay for multitaskers!) to a roller with a 3/8″ nap roller cover. Of course, just like when priming/painting walls, I started with the edging (using a cheap paint brush – no need for nice, clean edges here) and continued from there. Compared to most paints, the floor primer is extremely thin. It’s actually more like watered down glue than paint, and it goes from white to clear just like Elmer’s glue. When it dried (after 4 hours), it was still a little sticky. Here’s what it looked like when it was “dry”…
Yeah, the primer really brought out the “ugliness factor” of the floor even more – making us even more anxious to cover it up. The surface looked like it was basically covered in glue. It wasn’t so sticky that you couldn’t walk on it after it was “dry”, but it definitely wasn’t smooth concrete anymore. I guess the stickiness is what makes it effective in bonding the paint to the cement. The directions on the primer said to paint the surface after the primer had set for at least 4 hours (and less than 30 days – like we were going to wait that long!). The sun was setting, so we waited until the next morning to break out the paint.
STEP 6 / PAINTING / When we went to choose a paint color, we wanted something that would resemble new concrete, but had a, as Ash put it, “slightly warmer touch” to it. We didn’t want to go too dark because we wanted to be able to easily see critters (specifically frogs – Ashley is freaked out by frogs) if they decided to grace us with their presence. On the other hand, we didn’t want to go too light in fear of it looking sterile and cold.
After some going back and forth, we finally chose to go with Behr’s Fresh Cement (above is the Instagram photo Ash snapped during the decision process). Fitting name, right? This is a great base color for the floor because we can change the color scheme in the decor as we want to and not have to worry about the floor color.
This particular paint is actually part epoxy, which helps it resist the elements and foot traffic more than your usual floor paint. It’s also graded for car tires – but that doesn’t really matter to us because we won’t be parking a car in here. Although, it’s nice to know just in case we need to at some point. We’re hoping this means we’ll have a nice, finished floor for a long time to come, with only a few touch-ups here and there.
Now, for the fun part: painting. Rather than risking the paint running and getting on the brick by pouring the paint directly on the floor, I used a paint pan. Ash thinks I was being a little paranoid, but hey, I didn’t get any paint on the brick! That would have been a mess to clean up.
The whole painting process was extremely easy. Again, just like walls, I started with the edging then went from there. Let’s just say I’d rather paint 5 floors than a single room. It’s a much easier task. Just as the directions said to do, I did the first coat coat in one direction (up to down) and the second coat the other direction (left to right). Also, I noticed the paint seemed to adhere better when applied in thin coats, rather than thick ones.
STEP 7 / WAITING / According to the paint instructions, the floor is good to walk on after 24 hours and ready for furniture after 72 hours. To play it safe, we waited 72 hours to walk on it and because our neck of the woods is pretty humid. We’re actually waiting another day or two before adding the furniture back to the space just to be safe. The suspense is killing us (especially Ash), but we keep telling ourselves that we’ll thank us later. Just because we can’t put any furniture on it quite yet, doesn’t mean we can’t show you the after photos…
I have to say, I’m pretty pleased with the final result. It’s a world of difference from the old, oil-stained concrete, and gives the whole space a nicer, more finished look.
As we’ve mentioned in earlier posts about the carport, there are a few cracks in the floor here and there. After talking to a concrete guy and (again) doing a lot of research online, we decided to leave them be because chances are (with where our cracks are and our specific climate), they’d just come back after a while. With the new painted floors, the cracks are a little less noticeable and don’t bother us much.
The whole process was tedious, yes, but the work was definitely worth it, and we learned a lot along the way… like cat litter isn’t really the best way to clean an old oil spot. If we could go back to the beginning, one thing we would do differently is have the paint color tinted a tad darker. The swatch we originally picked out was a bit darker than what we ended up with. When we first put the paint down, we kept thinking it would dry darker, but it didn’t change much. We’re still satisfied with the color we ended up with, but it just isn’t as “warm” as we would have liked. All of that aside, one thing is for certain… it looks a whole lot better than this:
If you’re planning on doing a similar project, hopefully this post will help you on your journey. Just remember this is just what worked for us and our particular concrete carport-turned-patio area. The golden question in a year or so will be how well the paint has held up. We’re hoping that since we took the extra steps of sanding and priming that it will last us a good long while. So far, the floor seems to be really durable. Even though we aren’t technically supposed to have furniture on it yet, I had to bring in the ladder last night to do another small project that we’re working on. I was pretty careful about it, but I was able to move the ladder around without any scratching, smudging, denting, marks, etc. (I also may or may not have dropped my screwdriver on it, but don’t tell Ash. It didn’t make a mark!) It looks like we’re off to a good start.
Now that the floor is finished and, as of tomorrow morning, ready for furniture, we’re going to be wrapping up this project for the rest of the week and into the weekend. Up next: hanging wall art, planters and more. We’re hoping to call this entire project “done done” by next week – which will make Ash and I two very happy homeowners.