Can You Paint Over Concrete Sealer? (How-To)

Concrete sealers are used to prevent damages, corrosion, and staining on concrete surfaces. But like all sealers, concrete sealers are clear and boring to look at. So, can you paint over concrete sealer? 

You can paint over concrete sealer but you’ll need to clean, sand, and prime the top layer of the sealer before painting over it. The prep work is to abrade the surface and remove the top layer of the sealant to improve paint adhesion.

However, there are concrete sealers that can’t be painted over but there is a hack to tint such concrete sealers to display color.

So what’s the hack and how do you do it? There is more to know about painting over concrete sealer and this post digs right into the topic. So let’s dig in.

Concrete Sealer Should Be Dry First

When Can You Paint Over Concrete Sealer?

You can paint over concrete sealer when the sealer has dried and hardened. This will take between 4 hours and 24 hours. On average, you can paint over a concrete sealer 8 hours after the sealer was applied.

The time before painting over the concrete sealer depends on the type of concrete sealer and the number of coats applied.

If you paint over a concrete sealer that hasn’t dried or hardened, the paint will not stick well due to moisture inside the concrete sealer. The finish will look gummy or sticky for several hours.

The reason to wait for the concrete sealer to dry completely is to allow the paint to stick properly. If the concrete sealer isn’t dry, it will be sticky or have a semi-solid texture and when you apply paint over it, the paint will not stick.

Another reason to allow the concrete sealer to dry fully is because of the prep work required before painting. Before you can paint over concrete sealer, you need to clean, abrade, and prime the concrete.

If the concrete sealer isn’t dry enough, the top layer will not be able to handle the prep work and this will cause damages to the concrete sealer coating. Also, allowing the concrete sealer to dry before painting over it helps to achieve a smooth finish.

Does Paint Stick To Sealed Concrete?

Will Paint Stick To Sealed Concrete?

Paint will not stick to sealed concrete. This is because concrete sealers contain resins, solvents, oils, and silicon-based compounds that will repel paint coating.

If you apply paint directly over sealed concrete, the paint will not stick and will come off in a few days or weeks. Also, it will take very little effort or contact to wipe paint that is applied over sealed concrete.

However, there is a hack to painting over sealed concrete. This hack is a 3-step method that involves cleaning, sanding, and priming the sealed concrete to allow the paint to stick and adhere properly.

Concrete sealers as the name implies are coatings designed to repel moisture and chlorides. The sealer prevents damages and stains from affecting the concrete surface underneath.

Concrete sealers protect the concrete by sealing the pores with resins and silicon-based materials or by forming an impermeable layer on to prevent penetration. Either way, one thing is sure, paint will not stick to sealed concrete.

This is why it’s advised to sand and prime the sealed concrete before painting over it. Sanding helps to scuff the top layer of the concrete before the paint is applied. This gives the paint something to bite into when applied.

Also, priming helps to provide a smooth undercoat for the paint to be applied. This gives the finish a smooth and fine texture. However, sanding and priming are just two steps in painting over concrete sealer. 

How To Paint Over Concrete Sealer?

How To Paint Over Concrete Sealer?

Painting over concrete sealer is not the easiest of tasks. This is because concrete sealers by design will not allow paint to stick. So you need to alter the texture of the concrete sealer to allow the paint to stick. To do this, you’ll need the following tools and supplies:

  • Medium Grit Sandpaper
  • Fine Grit Sandpaper
  • Chemical Paint Stripper
  • Rags
  • Paint Primer For Concrete
  • The Required Paint
  • A Sealant (optional)

Now, let’s get to work.

1. Ensure The Concrete Sealer is Dry

This step might seem unnecessary since you will still remove or strip the concrete sealer coating later. But if the sealer isn’t dry, removing it will be very difficult. Also, it will be impossible to paint over it as the paint will not stick.

To know if the concrete sealer is dry, you can use different methods. The first method is to try and dent the concrete sealer coating using a blunt object. If you notice a dent, then the concrete sealer is not dry enough.

You can also use a nail. To do this, drag the nail across the concrete sealer coating. If you see a build-up of clear film on the tip of the nail, then the concrete sealer is still tacky.

Or, you can use the water test. Put a few drops of water on the concrete sealer coating for a few minutes. Then check the surface.

If the water sinks into the sealer coating, then you can’t paint over it yet. Usually, water will remain on the concrete sealer coating without penetrating it since dry concrete sealer coating is waterproof.

If you just applied the concrete sealer, it’s best to wait for at least 24 hours before painting over it. 

2. Strip or Abrade The Concrete Sealer Coating

Since paint will not stick to the concrete sealer, it’s best to remove the concrete sealer before trying to paint over it. However, you don’t have to remove the entire concrete sealer.

You just need to abrade or strip some part of it so the paint can bite into the gaps and ridges created. So you can either remove the entire coating or abrade it.

To remove the entire concrete sealer coating, you should use a chemical-based paint stripper. The chemicals soften the coating making it easier to wipe it off manually.

To use a chemical-based paint stripper, apply two coats of the paint stripping compound on the concrete sealer and press it on the sealer with a putty knife. Then wait a few minutes for the paint stripper to work its magic.

After, you can scrape or strip the paint stripper and the concrete sealer with the same putty knife you used to apply it. You should use safety gear while applying and working with paint remover.

To abrade the concrete sealer, use medium-grit sandpaper. 150-grit works fine. You can also use a sanding sheet or sanding block with the same grit.

3. Sand The Concrete Surface

After removing or abrading the concrete sealer, sand with fine-grit sandpaper to even out grain and smoothen the concrete surface, 220-grit will do.

4. Apply Two Coats Of Concrete Paint Primer

Removing or abrading the concrete sealer is not enough to paint over it. It’s advised to prime too — this will ensure a fine and smooth finish. Ensure to use a primer designed for use on concrete. These are usually water-based primers.

Apply two coats of the primer on the concrete surface with a paintbrush. Ensure to allow the first coat to dry before applying the second coat.

5. Apply Up To 3 Coats of The Paint

For concrete surfaces that will see heavy traffic and constant use like garage floors and car parks, it’s better to use epoxy paint as these are very strong and durable.

For indoor concrete, you can use any type of paint. You can also use enamel paint as this is also very durable and strong. You usually don’t need to sand between coats but a light wipe with fine-grit sandpaper will improve paint adhesion.

Also, ensure to allow each coat of paint to dry before applying another. If you want the best results then you should use masonry paint — this paint is specially made for concrete. 

6. Seal The Paint (Optional)

This step is optional but if you want the finish to last very long, it’s better to seal the paint when it dries. However, if you applied epoxy resin, you don’t need to seal it because epoxy resins are durable enough without a sealant.

To seal concrete, you can use polyurethane, wax, epoxy, or acrylic-based resin. Any of these will work fine.

7. Leave For 3 Days Before Use

Freshly painted concrete surfaces should be left for at least 3 days before being subjected to regular use. However, the concrete can take light use and handling after 24 – 48 hours.

Painting Over Different Types of Concrete Sealers

You can’t paint over all concrete sealer — here are the most common types of concrete sealers. Let’s check if we can paint over them or not:

Water-Based Concrete Sealer

You can paint over water-based concrete sealer because it has a low level of solvents, resinous compounds, oils, and silicon-based materials.

As such, paint will stick to a water-based concrete sealer. However, it’s advised to abrade or scuff the water-based concrete sealer coating before painting over it to allow the paint to stick properly.

Many painters also use water-based concrete sealers as a replacement for concrete primers. The sealer is stronger and more durable than a concrete primer. It will serve as a suitable undercoat for whichever paint is used over it.

Though the sealer is water-based and low in silicon and resin levels, the water-based concrete sealer is still a sealer. As such, it’s designed to repel stains, moisture, and paints.

So if you don’t abrade the top layer, it will be difficult to paint over it. Though the paint will stick initially, the finish will not be durable. Also, it will take a little effort to remove the finish. To abrade water-based concrete sealer, you can use fine-grit sandpaper or sanding pads.

Acrylic Concrete Sealer

You can’t paint over acrylic concrete sealer unless you strip the acrylic sealer before painting over it. This is because acrylic concrete sealers are shiny and elastic.

These sealers have a rubbery-like texture that makes it difficult for paint to sit on the top layer of the acrylic sealer. Also, acrylic sealers tend to fill the pores in the concrete making it difficult for any other paint to adhere well to the concrete surface.

Simply abrading or scuffing the acrylic sealer in most cases will not be enough to allow the paint to stick. This is because acrylic sealants have a very flexible texture. The sealer shifts and moves based on temperature changes and usage.

Since the pores are closed or sealed, the paint will not adhere to the concrete surface because there is nothing for the paint to bite into.

So, you should remove the entire acrylic concrete sealer before painting over it. However, you can get away with scuffing the acrylic concrete sealer too. But, this is only if you plan on using flexible or elastic paint over the acrylic concrete sealer.

It’s best to use latex or enamel paint over acrylic concrete sealer as these paints also have an elastic texture that will fit well on the acrylic sealer. That said, don’t use oil-based paint on acrylic concrete sealer. Oil-based paints are rigid and will crack and peel off if used over acrylic concrete sealer.

Penetrating Concrete Sealer

You shouldn’t paint over penetrating concrete sealers. Concrete sealers penetrate the surface by sifting through the pores and hairline cracks. Since the sealer penetrates the concrete material, no other paint can stick. It’s like calling “dibs” on the concrete.

The only way to paint over penetrating concrete sealer is to remove the entire sealer coating. But, even this wouldn’t guarantee proper paint adhesion since the sealer has penetrated and hardened.

So as an expert tip, don’t use a penetrating concrete sealer on a concrete surface you will or might paint over later. Don’t use any type of concrete sealer on a concrete surface you will paint on later. Instead, apply the paint and then seal it with a concrete sealer of your choice.

How To Tint Concrete Sealers?

Concrete sealers as explained earlier are boring to look at. But the best way to add color to the concrete sealer is not by painting over it. Regardless of your prep work, the paint will not reveal its best sheen and texture when used over a sealer. Instead, you should add paint pigments or colorants to the sealer before applying it.

When you have the concrete sealer, open it and add a few drops of colorants or paint pigments (color) to the sealer. Then stir repeatedly with a paint mixer to ensure even consistency and color. After, you can apply the tinted concrete sealer.

When it dries, you will get a finish that is as hard and durable as a regular concrete sealer but you will also get a finish that is attractive. It’s like getting the best of both worlds.

So instead of painting over sealed concrete, you should tint the sealer before applying it.


Do You Need to Seal Concrete before Painting?

No, you should paint the concrete first, let the paint dry, and then seal the concrete. If you seal the concrete first, the paint won’t stick unless you remove some parts of the concrete sealer. Concrete sealer is made specially to protect concrete and the paint underneath it. 

How Long After Painting Concrete Can You Re-Seal It?

You should wait until the paint is fully dry before you can apply concrete. The amount of time to wait depends on the type of paint you use — different types of paint have different drying times. But, once the paint has a rough surface, you can apply concrete sealer over it. 

Final Words

Overall, painting over concrete sealer is possible. But you should clean, strip or abrade, sand, and prime the concrete sealer before painting over it.

This will ensure the paint applied sticks well and dries smoothly on the concrete. However, for best results, it’s better to tint the concrete sealer before applying it.

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