Painting a Basement or Garage Floor

This story shows how to prepare and paint a basement or garage floor.

Painting a Basement or Garage Floor

Painting a basement floor can take many forms. You can paint it simply to cover the dull gray color of concrete, or you can add some fun to your basement by painting any number of decorative elements -- bowling lanes, shuffleboard or other floor games, or the logo of your favorite team. No matter how you paint your floor, you need to make sure that it's clean, smooth, and defect free.

Scrape off hard surface debris, then sweep the floor with a stiff-bristled garage broom. Next mix up a solution of water and concrete cleaner to label directions. Once spots are cleaned, power-scrub the entire floor, using a stiff-bristled hand brush along the walls. Then rinse thoroughly.

Manufacturers make a variety of paints suitable for floors. Epoxy paints are some of the most durable and come in one-part or two-part formulations. Let two-part epoxies stand for the prescribed time and use them within the recommended time.

Prestart Checklist

From 30 to 45 minutes per square yard to prepare the surface, plus another 15 minutes to paint each section

4-foot level, hammer, cold chisel, margin and mason's trowels, grinder, sanding block, vacuum, stiff-bristled brush, broom, rented floor-cleaning machine, paintbrushes

Using a level, troweling, grinding with power grinder, cleaning and painting concrete

Hydraulic cement, muriatic acid, rubber gloves, epoxy or other paint suitable for floors

Preparing the floor: Step 1

Divide the slab into imaginary 6-foot sections and check each section with a 4-foot level. Mark cracks, high spots, and other defects with a carpenter's pencil. Cracks may be a sign of a structural defect. Some may be repairable. Others may require professional help.

Preparing the floor: Step 2

Use a small sledge and a cold chisel to open small cracks so you can fill them. If possible, angle the chisel into each side of the crack to create a recess wider at the bottom of the crack than on top. This will help hold the patching cement more securely.

Preparing the floor: Step 3

To fill depressions in the slab, pour a small amount of self-leveling compound into the depression and trowel it level. Add compound until the surface is level. Feather the edges level with the floor.

Preparing the floor: Step 4

Grind down any high spots you have marked using a grinder equipped with a masonry-grit abrasive wheel. A right-angle grinder makes this job go quickly. Hold a vacuum hose near the grinder to remove the dust as you work. Vacuum and damp-mop the surface thoroughly.

Preparing the floor: Step 5

Protect the lower portions of the walls by draping plastic sheets about 2 feet up the wall, holding them in place with painter's tape.

Painting the floor: Step 1

Prepare the floor as necessary, then sweep or vacuum it thoroughly to remove dust.

Painting the floor: Step 2

Prepare a cleaning solution according to manufacturer's instructions and scrub the floor thoroughly. Rinse and let it dry for 4 hours. Prepare a 10-to-1 water/muriatic etching solution and power-scrub the floor. Rinse twice and let the floor dry overnight.

Painting the floor: Step 3

If your floor paint calls for a primer, apply it according to the manufacturer's instructions and let it dry completely. Then prepare your paint, mixing two-part epoxy and letting it set as directed by the manufacturer.

Painting the floor: Step 4

Starting in a corner opposite a door and using a 4-inch brush, apply the first coat, using the same technique you would use for any other surface. Lay the paint in sections and finish each section with parallel strokes.

Painting the floor: Step 5

Let the first coat dry as prescribed on the label, then roll on the second coat. Let the paint dry at least 4 hours before using it for light foot traffic, and 7 days for full use and to park vehicles in a garage.

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