Liza Greis

Do-it-yourself projects and Home Decor

Tips For Painting Concrete

When we moved to this house the foundation was painted a grayish blue color as was the trim. Most of the paint had chipped and peeled off at that point so it needed to be repainted. Since we bought the house (here in Utah) when we still lived in Vegas, we were going to be immediately renting it out. We needed to paint the concrete quickly before we had to go back to Vegas. We decided just to paint it the same grayish blue and then when we moved in later, we could have more time to decide on a better color choice.

I went to the small local hardware store and picked a paint swatch that looked close to the grayish blue on the house. I handed it to a cute little old lady who then mixed the paint for us. We also got primer and had it tinted. The primer looked baby blue.

We had one afternoon to paint before we needed to hop in the car and drive back to Las Vegas. We hosed off the foundation, primed it with the baby blue primer (regular wall primer) and then realized it was getting dark. We HAD to finish before we left so we kept going even though it was getting hard to see.

We cracked open the paint can and I remember thinking it looked a little dark, but we were in a super big hurry. We rolled as fast as we could and then left to make the long drive home.


I wish I had a picture. I REALLY wish I had a picture! Low and behold in the morning do you know what our poor renters found? A ROYAL BLUE house. Gah!! It was terrible.

It was electric.

Not only was it the wrong color, but we didn’t go about it the right way. But today I will share some tips on how to paint concrete.

tips for painting concrete

So after the mishap with the royal blue paint, we went ahead and just painted a tan color right over it. It started chipping after a few years. Keep in mind that this is a surface that gets zero foot traffic and doesn’t get snow shoveled in the winter. It should have lasted longer.

It didn’t help that our kids picked at it and peeled away large pieces. What is it with kids and peeling things? Elmer’s glue on the hand anyone?

tips on painting concrete

The first thing we needed to address was how to get the paint off. We needed a clean slate. A do over.

The best way, aside from hiring all the kids at your local elementary school to come and pick it off, is to use a power washer. I used this bad boy. And by “bad” I mean ridiculously awesome.

Ryobi gas powered pressure washer

(buy it at Home Depot)

In the past we have always rented power washers from Home Depot when we needed them. I never kept track of what brand they were or what psi they were, but I will tell you that they were NOT as powerful as this one!

I like to read reviews of tools. Even better, I like to watch videos with people trying out tools and giving their take on them. I know, I am a bit of a nerd. I watched probably 10 videos about this power washer before I tried it and they ALL loved it. Fold down handle for storage, most psi for residential use, HONDA motor, and an idle down feature which saves gas. The nozzle twists to changes settings so there is no more changing out tips and it has a large soap reservoir built in. Plus there are so many fun attachments! Give me a moment while I settle down……

But like any power tool, you need to be safe.

* Secure hair off shoulders
* Do not wear jewelry or loose clothing
* Wear long sleeves, long pants and sturdy shoes
* Wear eye protection
* Use two hands
* Usage: Removing dirt and mold from decks, patios, driveways, house siding, cleaning cars, boats,
motorcycles, grills, outdoor furniture. Always use appropriate nozzle

Ryobi 3100 gas pressure washer

I promise that I was following all the rules. I asked my hubby to not get me in the shot because I was wearing snowflake PJ pants that somehow along the way became painting pants (because that is the destiny of all my clothing), a tee with a large hole ripped in it, and I had a rash on my face. It wasn’t pretty folks. But I was rocking some tennis shoes, a pony tail and safety goggles so all was good.

Sheesh! I make the people of Wal-mart look good.

This little section shown here took me about 10 minutes if that. It will obviously depend on how bad a paint job it was and it may take you a bit longer.

cleaning off old paint with a pressure washer

I had it on the 1 setting which has the most powerful (fine point) spray. I got a little too close and it cut lines in the concrete. It really is SUPER powerful people.

be careful when using the pressure washer

And here it is with the paint all gone! Don’t mind the stones meant for a border all over the place. My little guy likes to turn them over to look for bugs. You know, while his brothers are peeling the paint off.

tips on how to paint cement

When I painted the walkway and steps, I also scrubbed it with soapy water after I power washed. The cleaner the surface, the better.

Here is the paint I used. I bought it a few years ago when I painted our steps and walkway. The labels may have changed, but it will still be called the same thing. There are also other brands of concrete primer and paint. The point is, don’t use regular paint. Not even exterior paint. Use something specifically made for concrete.

The primer looks like thin Elmer’s glue. Use a roller cover you are not in love with because it will not wash clean after. After you roll it on, the concrete will look wet. It will also feel sticky like glue. It will stay sticky until you paint over it. Wait the appropriate time (humidity will affect times) and then paint.

concrete paint

It looks like new! Now I just have to wait until the perennials finish filling out and I can plant a few annuals to fill in the gaps. By the end of May my flower beds should be gorgeous and they will have a non-chippy backdrop :)

painted concrete_edited-1

Important things to remember:

*A paint job is only as good as the prep work. You must prepare the surface correctly for the paint to adhere correctly.

*Paint (especially outdoors) is not a permanent solution. Paint will have upkeep. But the way you paint and the type of paint you use will determine how often you have to redo it.

When I first painted our steps and walkway years ago, I used regular paint and no primer. It peeled off before the first year was over. With this paint shown above, it lasted 3 years before I saw any spots wearing. And they were small. And for a walkway that gets used all day every day and snow shoveled all winter, that is pretty good. I can handle repainting those every 4-5 years. Now that the foundation is painted the right way, it should last a lot longer than 5 years since it doesn’t get as much wear as the steps.

painted cement_edited-1

Ryobi sent me the power washer to try out.  All thoughts, opinions, and stories are all mine :)

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  1. Heart and Haven says

    Ok, I’m usually a big fan of your decorating choices….but can I kindly say that I think your curb appeal is missing some of your usual style? I love the brick on the house, but think the trim color blends too much. Perhaps a white or dark gray on the eaves and around the window trim would pop better? I think some wood, rustic style shutters surrounding the front windows would look really good, perhaps painted black like your front door. And I’d really love to see a fun color on your mailbox, and a fun, colorful design on the front porch planters (ie. stripes, polka dots, or perhaps even harlequin?) :-)

    • Liza says

      Oh it is totally missing something :) The trees on the porch are actually from inside. I stuck them out there for this picture. I normally have different trees that are in colored posts but I am trying to see how they look over by the garage. And shutters were on my list last year (actually they have been on my list for 7 years but I was ACTUALLY going to do them last year) but it only happened on the garage and I didn’t get a chance to make more for the front.

      But once the flowers bloom it changes things. I have so many colors of flowers and they get HUGE since they are perennial. I like to let the flowers be the color. If I add too many colors to trim, and mailbox, then it looks like too much.

      You can’t see it in this picture because of the angle, but I also painted a harlequin pattern on the porch ceiling.

      • Heart and Haven says

        I can’t wait to see any exterior updates you do :-) (hopefully this spring/summer! lol)
        I live in a HOA, and have VERY STRICT rules for what colors we can use to paint our exterior spaces….so I just have to live vicariously through others, haha.

        I do have some very pretty bright pink flowers I planted around our birch tree in our front yard. I don’t remember which variety they are; they were “supposed” to be annuals…but with our moderate S. Cali weather, they have been in beautiful bloom year-round for the past 5 years!

  2. Heart and Haven says

    Oh! I just remembered what you did to makeover your garage window…and LOVED it! Perhaps you can continue this same scheme to the front of the house too?

  3. Teija Nelson says

    I think this is adorable!! Like a sweet little cottage. It is all neat as a pin! I love the painted foundation and the matching sidewalk and steps!! Thank you so much for the advice. I have wanted to paint my porch and sidewalk. This inspires me.

  4. KC Coake says

    Wow! What a big difference. I’ve wanted to use a power washer on my deck and get it to look good again. I bet these tips would help with project as well.

  5. Cath T says

    Thanks for the how to. It looks GREAT! Had to laugh out loud about: painting in the dark (been there, too many times), being surprised at what color the paint really turned out to be (teal??); picking at peeling paint (brothers and I loved picking at the porch floor as kids–wonder sometimes if it was lead-based….), what you wear as painting attire (my clothes are pretty cringe worthy, though I haven’t tried pjs, lol). I’m amazed at how great that power washer worked, and you didn’t decimate your garden in the process.I’m considering painting our front steps, so your tips will really help. I had no idea how to go about it properly.

  6. AnnetM says

    Looks great – I too was surprised at the lack of colour, but made sense when you commented above re the flowers being the display.
    I was only just saying to my husband the other day that we should paint the concrete foundation wall, since it is looking pretty sad. We have sea-green moss colour vinyl siding, so a simple white would look good. But I would’ve just bought any old paint and then cringed when it peeled off next year, so thanks for this timely post!!

  7. Laura says

    I will have to try this on our house. We have a pressure washer so that will make things easy! We had our house painted a couple of years ago, but they painted the concrete blocks on the bottom part of the house with the same house paint and it is chipping off all over, so you are totally right about the right prep work and the right paint for the job. Love your perennials! I love to have plants that come up year after year. I am trying to get to the point where all my flowers are perennials so I have more time to plant veggies in the garden.

  8. Nancy says

    I really enjoy reading your blog. You are so talented and so down to earth. I love how you make me laugh, (Walmart people:)) I’m not a gardner, but I love nice landscaping and flowers. I need a tutorial on how to plant flowers. Mine often die. Maybe I’m not doing something right with the root ball? The front of our house faces east. I have day lilies and box wood. I fill in with flowers. I like geraniums but they get pretty expensive, especially if they die. Can you suggest some perennials I could buy to help fill the space? And suggestions of annuals? Our brick is red, stucco is tan, 1950 year old house, but modernized a bit. :) Thank you so much. :)

  9. Dusty Patel Lynch says

    The exterior of the house looks beautiful. You’ve accomplished a truly impressive makeover with the concrete wall and even the landscaping got a huge improvement. My driveway is grey concrete. I’ve thought about this but reluctant due to peeling. But I do live in San Diego with no snow. I’d like to get the affect of stamped concrete somehow???? Any ideas…

  10. Diane says

    The concrete and floor paint shown in the picture here says it is not for vertical surfaces. Is this the stuff you used?

  11. Lauren Court says

    I manage a coffe shop that used to be a greenhouse and the front area is pretty rustic looking, for lack of a better word. The front wall has large windows with a cement base that has been painted at one time. The paint is peeling and chipping significantly. Obviously I can’t use a power washer since it is indoors. Besides using a paint scraper and sand paper then washing it off is there a method, process or tool like a hand sander that I should use? I’m having a hard time finding instructions for this dyi project, please help. Please keep in mind we are open 7 days a week so whatever I can do with the least amount of debris and relatively quick. Lastly the area is probably about 2′-3′ high and only 15′-20′ in total length. Thanks in advance! Peace, Lauren

  12. Johnna Ray says

    Did you seal the concrete paint with an exterior concrete epoxy or just paint? How long does it stay painted with wear (steps and porch are my concern)?

    Please email me directly so I don’t miss out on your reply. :)

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