How To Paint Concrete With Latex Paint? (3 Steps)

Since concrete is a porous surface, painting it can be difficult. You must prep it in the right way to prevent over-absorption. So, how to paint concrete?

To paint concrete, you must prep it by fixing the holes in the surface, prime it to prevent paint wastage, and then apply the latex paint. If the concrete is outdoors, you must seal the finish too.


Latex paint will stick to concrete as long its surface isn’t painted, sealed, or filthy. If it’s sealed, you must remove the sealer first before applying latex paint. 

Most concrete sealers are oil-based that repel any type of moisture, so applying latex paint over them won’t work. That’s why you must remove the sealer first and then apply the paint.

Concrete surfaces are porous and will absorb more paint than needed. So, you must apply a primer (or wash coat) to prevent over-absorption. The primer will fill the pores of the material, and prevent it from absorbing too much paint. If you don’t apply a primer, some parts of the surface will suck more paint than others, and the finish will look uneven. 

The primer will also cover the coarse and hard surface of the concrete and allow the paint to stick better.

Should You Use it?

Latex is a good choice for a concrete surface because it sticks and spreads well over it. If used on indoor concrete, the latex paint will last up to 5 years. However, for outdoor surfaces unsealed latex won’t last more than 1 year. So, you must seal it to increase its durability.

This paint has impressive adhesive qualities that will stick to any surface, plus it’s easy to use and apply. You can apply it with a brush, roller, or sprayer. 

Compared to other paints, latex is easier to maintain and clean. Also, it doesn’t cost as much and dries fast enough for you to complete the project faster. So, you can use latex paint for cement surfaces.

Prep The Concrete First

Before you paint concrete with latex paint, you have to prep the concrete. So, how to prep the concrete for latex paint? You have to fill all the holes, and get rid of any dust that the concrete might have.

Most concrete surfaces are filthy, have imperfections, and aren’t even. Therefore, you must fix these imperfections before applying the paint. If you don’t, it won’t stick well to it and can peel off.

Here are the tools you need for this:

  • Sandpaper (diamond sandpaper of different grits)
  • Paint Striper (optional)
  • Wire brush or scraper
  • Rags
  • Primer
  • Concrete Paste
  • A Trowel
  • Degreaser
  • Detergent
  • Scrubbing Brush
  • A Bucket Of Water
  • Protective Gear (Gloves and A Face Mask)

It’s a lot of tools, yes. But you need them to ensure a good result. So now, let’s go into detail.

1. Remove All Objects Around It

First, remove all furniture and objects near the concrete surface to prevent any accidental paint spill. 

You must also wear a pair of gloves.

Related Read: Can You Use Latex On Metal Surfaces?

2. Strip The Previous Finish

If the concrete is painted (or sealed), you must remove the sealant (top coat) first. First, however, you must know the type of paint it has to know how to remove it.

To know the type of paint the concrete has, use the rubbing alcohol test. Pour rubbing alcohol into a cotton ball and wipe the finish. If the finish comes off, it’s water-based. If no paint comes off, the paint is sealed or is oil-based.

To remove water-based paint, use a water-based paint stripper. To remove oil-based paint from concrete, use a solvent-based paint stripper. 

If the concrete surface isn’t painted, you can skip this step. 

3. Fill Cracks And Holes

If the concrete surface has dents, holes, or cracks, you must fill them using a concrete filler or paste. Latex paint won’t cover these imperfections, so they will be obvious once the finish dries. This will make the finish look amateurish. 

Here’s how to fix imperfections:

  1. Mix the concrete filler or paste. 
  2. Apply it over the surface and fill the crack, holes, or dents. 
  3. Remove the excess paste from the surface. 
  4. Wait for the filler to dry (cure).

4. Sand The Concrete

Once the paste dries, sand the concrete with 100-grit sandpaper. Sanding helps to smoothen the surface and also removes excess paste. You must use diamond sandpaper because regular sandpaper gets dull fast. 

Related Read: Should You Sand Latex Paint?

5. Wash The Surface

Most concrete surfaces are filthy and filled with dust. You must clean these stains off because they can affect the quality of the finish.

Use a mild detergent and a scrubbing brush to clean a concrete surface. Pour the mild detergent over it, and use the scrubbing brush to scrub the stains off. After you are done, clean the concrete surface with clear water.

If it has too much filth, use a degreaser to wash the concrete. After washing it, leave it to dry. 

Related Read: How Long Does It Take Latex Paint To Dry?

How To Paint Concrete With Latex Paint?

Painting cement with latex isn’t difficult, but the task is usually time-consuming based on the required prep work.

Concrete surfaces are hard and rough. So you will need to smoothen the surface and use a primer over it.

But before you go on with this task, you’ll need a few tools:

  • Sandpaper
  • Primer
  • Wire Sponge
  • Latex Paint
  • Paint Stripper
  • Concrete Filler
  • Degreaser

1. Prime The Surface

After you prepare the concrete you have to prime it.

You must apply 1-2 coats of primer. Priming serves as a base coat for the paint and increases the adhesion. Use latex primer for concrete and not an oil-based primer.

Apply 2 coats of primer over it. You must wait until one coat dries before applying the next one. Optionally, you can sand the first coat before applying the next one. 

2. Apply Multiple Coats Of Latex Paint

Once the primer has dried, you have to add a few layers of latex paint.

After the primer dries, you can apply the latex paint. To apply it, use a paint roller, brush, or sprayer. If you use a sprayer, you must thin it by adding more water (ratio of 1:4)

You must apply 3 coats of latex paint on the concrete. Wait for one coat to dry before applying the next one. Latex paint takes 3 hours to dry enough for a re-coat. 

3. Apply A Sealer Or Topcoat

To protect the concrete and the latex paint, you need to add a layer of sealer or topcoat.

Optionally, you can apply a sealer (or topcoat) over the finish. The sealer will protect the finish from moisture, water, scratches, and damage. You can use polyurethane, polycrylic, glossy aerosol, or varnish as a sealer.

If the concrete you painted is outdoor, then sealing it is mandatory. After you apply the sealer, let it dry for 1-2 days. 

Paint Types For Different Concrete Surfaces

The best paint for concrete depends on the surface type. For garage floors, use a two-part epoxy resin as it’s durable and will last over 10 years. It is also easy to clean and water-resistant.

For concrete slabs, countertops, and tables, use acrylic latex paint. You can also use acrylic enamel or epoxy paint if the slab or table is outdoors.

For exterior concrete walls, use latex paint but seal it with an exterior sealant. For indoor concrete walls, use satin latex paint. You can use acrylic latex or acrylic enamel paint for any other concrete surface.

Related Read: Can You Apply Latex Over Oil-Based Paint?

Final Words

You can use latex paint on concrete, but you must prep the surface and seal the finish after. The sealant will protect the surface and finish from moisture, water, and other damage. 

Tony Adams
Tony Adams

Tony is a professional painter and an author of DIY Geeks. Tony has completed over 1,000 painting projects for his clients. It's safe to say he knows what he Is talking about,

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