Carport + Patio Painting

PAINTING A CONCRETE PATIO FLOOR

How to Paint a Concrete Patio Floor / 7thhouseontheleft.com

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.

How to Paint a Concrete Patio Floor / 7thhouseontheleft.com

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
  • Sandpaper
  • Bleach
  • 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.

Cat Litter On An Oil Stain? / 7thhouseontheleft.com

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.

How to Paint a Concrete Patio Floor / 7thhouseontheleft.com

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.

How to Paint a Concrete Patio Floor / 7thhouseontheleft.com

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”…

How to Paint a Concrete Patio Floor / 7thhouseontheleft.com

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.

How to Paint a Concrete Patio Floor / 7thhouseontheleft.com

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.

How to Paint a Concrete Patio Floor / 7thhouseontheleft.com

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.

How to Paint a Concrete Patio Floor / 7thhouseontheleft.com

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…

How to Paint a Concrete Patio Floor / 7thhouseontheleft.com

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.

How to Paint a Concrete Patio Floor / 7thhouseontheleft.com

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.

How to Paint a Concrete Patio Floor / 7thhouseontheleft.com

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:

Carport Before / 7thhouseontheleft.com

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.

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49 Comments

  • Reply
    Connie Grimes
    August 5, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Looks great. We tried to stain a concrete patio once, what a mess. Ended up recovering the whole thing with pavers during an expansion later. Your tutorial is great too, very understandable, step by step instructions.

  • Reply
    Marry
    August 5, 2013 at 11:59 am

    It looks fantastic! The hubs and I are planning on doing this to our patio this fall. I’m already thankful for this tutorial!!

  • Reply
    Linda M
    August 5, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Wow, what a difference!! Looking good!

  • Reply
    Lyndi
    August 5, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    You did a lovely job. I hadn’t considered painting my patio – I was just going to throw a huge outdoor rug on it. But the thought of having to constantly sweep debris out of it makes me wary. Painting it is obviously the way to go, so thanks for this walk-through!

  • Reply
    Tiffany {A Touch of Grace}
    August 5, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    This looks fabulous! Such a huge difference! I had no idea how much work it can be but y’all are smart for doing your research. Nice job!

  • Reply
    Jen
    August 5, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    Great job! This looks fantastic. I’m sending this page to my husband, as a place to start for our unfinished basement project.

  • Reply
    Barb
    August 5, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    Job well done!
    Can’t wait to see the finished project!

  • Reply
    Maureen
    August 5, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    Great post! Last winter, I purchased paint for my concrete porch floor. My plan was to get the painting done this spring, but that didn’t work out. I’m just waiting for the weather to cool down now. I can’t stand the prep work, but after seeing how your floor turned out, I’m inspired! Thanks for the tips. I will go back to the paint store for some primer now.

  • Reply
    Barbara
    August 5, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    Greg, Years ago my dad painted the concrete porch floor at my mom and dad’s house several times and it has held up well. We lost my dad a few years ago and I am going to repaint the floor for my mom.

    Unlike your floor, the concrete floor was scored when it was originally poured so it looks like big tiles. So dad painted the floor in four colors and it really does look like tile with the scoring between the colors still the natural concrete, if that makes sense.

    My question is whether you think I should sand the floor before I repaint it. I am going to use a brush or maybe try a small roller. My dad got his paint at a local store that is no longer in business so I will try the Behr.

    • Reply
      Greg
      August 6, 2013 at 2:58 pm

      I think you should definitely sand the floor, if not acid etch it. This highly informative (and rather boring/repetitive) video lays out the ideal way to prep a previously-coated surface for painting. It’s a bit more than we did (I used bleach instead of degreaser, and I didn’t acid etch the surface) because we didn’t have a previously-coated surface to work with.

      Hopefully that helps. The best thing I think you could possibly do is talk to someone in your local hardware store who might have more experience or knowledge about this sort of thing.

  • Reply
    Barbara
    August 6, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    Thanks Greg. The video was good and I will definitely do the sanding and check for spots that might need the etching and priming. The guys at my Home Depot are pretty good so I’ll check with them too.

    BTW, your floor looks great and the whole patio is coming along nicely!

  • Reply
    Stephanie @ simplebees.blogspot.com
    August 7, 2013 at 1:24 am

    I really like the color!

  • Reply
    Mary
    August 8, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    Love the new floor but I wish you could have been a little more daring and gone with a different color for the floor. Its evident you guys are a fan of grey (I am too!) but I would have liked to see you guys take more of a risk when choosing the color. Especially with the new ceiling, so many great color options to go with that dark wood!

    • Reply
      Ashley
      August 8, 2013 at 1:38 pm

      We toyed around with the idea of going with a fun color, but ultimately decided gray would be best so we could change the decor color scheme as we felt like it. Rest assured, color is coming to this space soon : )

    • Reply
      Mary
      August 9, 2013 at 9:20 am

      Yay for color! Looking forward to seeing the finished space πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Garth
    August 9, 2013 at 10:40 am

    Great tutorial. I tried to paint my patio floor and it was such a mess. Gonna retry again before summer ends. Great post!

  • Reply
    Jenny Pfeiler
    August 12, 2013 at 1:26 am

    Re: the kitty litter you used to try to erase the stains….if you have any extra…..kitty litter can be used to solidify old paint that needs to be disposed of….just check with the local authorities to see what can go to the landfill and what needs special treatment at a hazardous waste center. When I moved last year, all those cans of paint I’d saved for ages had to leave too…and I found myself buying kitty litter to take care of the latex style paints.

    • Reply
      Greg
      August 12, 2013 at 9:30 am

      That’s great advice. We’ll keep it in mind!

  • Reply
    Dawnette
    August 19, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    Great tutorial…my kids lit fireworks on my patio and it has a few black spots. I have wanted to paint it all summer. My question is…is the surface slippery? I have an uncovered patio with a slight ramp and have been wondering what the final texture is like.

    • Reply
      Greg
      August 19, 2013 at 11:40 pm

      I haven’t noticed it being slippery (maybe if you’re wearing flat-soled shoes?), but it’s definitely a different texture from raw concrete.

  • Reply
    Scott B
    September 23, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    What an improvement. That floor looks much better. I would think painting the ground also wouldn’t cause as much back and arm strain as normal painting.

  • Reply
    Jason
    January 30, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    Just a quick thank you for taking the time to do this and post it. I can tell you for certain that the majority of people who read this page through and through don’t ever comment. I would normally be one of those people but I feel compelled to say a HUGE thank you for how thorough this was. Great work!

    • Reply
      Ashley
      January 31, 2014 at 11:46 am

      Thank you, Jason! Glad to know it helped : )

  • Reply
    Rachel
    February 10, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    Great tutorial! Results are very nice!

    • Reply
      Ashley
      February 10, 2014 at 7:07 pm

      Thanks!

  • Reply
    Jennifer
    March 5, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    Not much of a DIYer and totally ignorant on this subject — but I have a screened-in porch that needs a fresh coat of paint because of a few stains. Your instructions are very helpful and give me hope that I can accomplish this on my own.

    Plan to skip the sanding and priming, since the floor has already been sealed and painted, and will use the bleach-and-rinse cleaning as my pre-paint preparation. Hope that’ll work. Will be happy to even approach the good result you seem to have gotten.

    Thanks so much for the clear directions!

  • Reply
    Tara
    March 9, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Instead of using sand scraping, could you not acid wash the concrete floor with ne part acid and 3 parts water to allow paint to adhere?

    • Reply
      Greg
      March 9, 2014 at 7:15 pm

      Absolutely. In fact, I’d say acid etching might be the best way to do it (hindsight is 20/20), but the sanding method has held up relatively well over the past 6 months.

  • Reply
    Randy
    March 31, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    Looks great! I am planning to paint our outdoor patio this spring. We have a table and chairs with metal legs and base. I am worried that the furniture will damage or scratch the paint. Did you find this an issue for your surface? Thank you for your feedback.

    • Reply
      Ashley
      March 31, 2014 at 9:16 pm

      With metal chair legs that you’ll be using regularly and sliding on the floor, I would probably do something different with a stronger bond, maybe an epoxy.

  • Reply
    Sally
    June 1, 2014 at 1:00 am

    Great tutorial. I want to paint my concrete deck but I’m a little worried about the weather. I live in Idaho and the weather can be unpredictable. It’s not covered so I’d like your thoughts.

    • Reply
      Ashley
      June 1, 2014 at 10:58 am

      You might want to try a sealant of some sort. I’d suggest asking someone at your local Lowes or Home Depot since they’d know your climate a little better. Or! You can ask a contractor in your area on Houzz.com. Hope that helps!!

  • Reply
    rachel
    June 9, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    Your article was so helpful, thank you so much for posting this. I Google searched “How to Paint Patio?” and your website came up first. I am starting today and so thankful I found this because I was definitely missing many steps in the process that you covered.

    • Reply
      Ashley
      June 9, 2014 at 6:57 pm

      Awesome! So good to know! : )

  • Reply
    Debbie G
    June 25, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Now that you’ve gone thru winter with this, can you update us as to how well it is holding up. So many products out there getting horrible reviews after a year or two of peeling and chipping. I want to do this painting on several areas of outside concrete but I’m leery as to which product to try. Thank you so much for your explanation on how to get the job done right! Ü

    • Reply
      Ashley
      June 26, 2014 at 10:31 am

      We’ve had one small spot (near the large console table) where some water puddled and then Greg used a scrub brush to sweep it away and the paint scuffed a bit. Other than that, it’s held up wonderfully with no complaints.

  • Reply
    Hallye
    July 6, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    Thanks for this! Did you have any concerns about the risk of moisture in the concrete that could later cause the paint to peel? We live in houston and worry since it is so humid here… Does the primer take care of that?

    • Reply
      Ashley
      July 9, 2014 at 2:18 pm

      Virginia is pretty humid and we haven’t had any serious peeling problems. The primer seems to do the trick.

  • Reply
    Audrey
    August 8, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    Why did you decide on paint instead of acid wash or Behrs “concrete stain”? Problems with scratching or peeling after a year? How slick is it?

    • Reply
      Ashley
      September 26, 2014 at 2:37 pm

      For the clean look we wanted, paint was a better option than a stain (which sometimes appears splotchy in large areas). So far, so good! We just have one tiny scratch where we let water settle, but other than that, it’s perfect. And not very slick at all – though the majority of our floor is covered. Hope that helps!

  • Reply
    Susan
    August 28, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    How long do you expect it to last if it is a covered patio?
    Thanks

    • Reply
      Ashley
      September 26, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      Well, it’s been over a year and it’s still going strong. It’s held up perfectly.

  • Reply
    Tim
    October 11, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    For previous posters who are worried about a slippery surface, you can mix in a couple handfuls of clean/dry kiddie play sand into the pail of finish before applying. Don’t go overboard with the sand

  • Reply
    Jane
    September 23, 2015 at 3:51 pm

    I know this is an old post, but it ranks high in the search results, so…

    One thing that works *reasonably* well for removing oil stains, even old ones, is laundry detergent. I used Tide and a deck brush on our driveway, which is unsealed concrete, and it really mitigated the stain. Sunlight took care of the rest.

  • Reply
    Becca
    April 3, 2016 at 11:07 pm

    We have a large patio that has never been painted or anything…just raw cement. It does have some spots and things….I was thinking of painting it…but once you do is it a job that will have to do done again and again…(Like my very large wood deck I have to paint every 5-7 years!). Thanks for any imput.

    • Reply
      Ashley
      July 2, 2016 at 6:54 pm

      Yeah, we’re at the point now where it could use a spruce up paint job. We’ll be sure to post about it once we do!

  • Reply
    Jackie
    July 12, 2016 at 9:54 pm

    Are you using the area as a car parking pad or as an outdoor room for entertainment? You mentioned that you are in Virginia, what about salty water and grit from winter streets?

    I love the before and after results. Very effective. And love the ceiling even more!

    • Reply
      Ashley
      July 13, 2016 at 12:42 pm

      Thanks, Jackie! We primarily use this space for outdoor entertainment. They only time we park the car in there is if there’s a huge storm (like during hurricane season) to protect from hail. When we do that, we just move the furniture over. The carport is on the back of the house, so we don’t have any issues with winter streets.

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