How to Paint an Outdoor Concrete Patio

Builders lean toward concrete for outdoor patios because they are an easy alternative to decking. They stand up to the elements, and are easy to install.

But they are boring. Dress up your concrete patio with paint. It’s a project that can be accomplished by a homeowner over a weekend and make a dramatic change in your home’s look.

Empty the Area

Remove as much furniture and items from the area as possible. The work will go faster if you are not working around the legs of chairs and storage. The cleared surface will allow you to clean and paint more easily. Cover plants that are in the path of runoff. Chemicals and paint could harm them.

Fix Fissures

Once you have a clear view of the entirety of the concrete, clean all cracks with a wire brush. Use a vacuum or blow the dirt and dust away from the area, making sure cracks are cleaned out. Prepare some masonry crack filler and apply it according to the instructions. You will need to allow plenty of time for the filler to dry. Sand down the filler with a fine sandpaper and clean the area again.

Remove plantlife

Most concrete patios, especially those with cracks, will have moss, roots, vines and grasses growing in them. Pull any out through the surface of the patio. Use a pressure washer to wash away roots, clumps and other messes made by pulling the weeds.

Clean the Concrete

Concrete can absorb dirt and grease. To make sure it’s clean before you paint, scrub the flooring with trisodium phosphate, muriatic acid or phosphoric acid. The cleaners will remove old paint in addition to the grease and dirt. The products are known irritants, so be sure to use protective clothing and eyewear. Rinse the surface thoroughly after cleaning.

Prepare for Painting

You’ll need to first test the moisture content of the concrete. It can seem dry but hold wetness within the concrete. To test, tape down an 18 by 18 inch square of foil or thick plastic. Seal all edges down. After a day, pull the square up and check for dampness on the underside.

Pick a Paint

Choose a paint that is appropriate for an exterior surface. There are concrete paints on the market that are specially formulated to resist water, salt, oil, grease and dirt. You can also go with a latex, water-based or oil-based paint designed for floors or patios. While masonry epoxies are made for floors with binders, they may not adhere well to concrete.

Consider Concrete Primer

Primers will make your surface more conducive to paint adhesion. The primer evens the surface and gives the paint an even, non-porous surface to stick to.

Protect Plantlife

Cover your plants and shrubs that are next to the area. Use protective plastic sheeting to cover them over. Tape off edges, and cover adjoining surfaces like walls, doors and stairs.

Weather Watch

Pick the right day to paint. It should be a dry day with no recent rain and none forecast for the next few days. It should be above 50 degrees Fahrenheit and low humidity.

Perfect Paint Job

Pour your paint into a paint tray. It will help you load your brushes or rollers and get an even coat of paint put down. Painters urge you to do more, thin coats to avoid poor drying. Start by painting the edges with a smaller brush. Then roll the larger areas with your roller.

Be sure to plan an exit strategy so you don’t literally paint yourself into a corner. Give the paint ample dry time, and start with the second coat. Concrete can take as much as six hours to dry between coats.

When you are done painting, allow time for the paint to cure. It should be given at least 24 hours before you walk on it, and wait for at least a week before you put the furniture back to resume normal function.