How to Paint Concrete Steps
Easy step-by-step guide to paint steps made of concrete.
Painting Indoor & Outdoor Concrete Surfaces
Unfinished concrete soaks up water, which can lead to cracking, chipping and other symptoms of premature degeneration. Prevent this by protecting your concrete floors, surfaces, or steps with a coat of paint. If your steps were previously painted, you can refresh the color or the finish with a topcoat of paint. Careful preparation, including etching new concrete and removing peeling paint, are essential prerequisites for top-quality results.
In this project we'll be painting concrete steps. However, you can use these same steps for concrete floors and surfaces.
Prepare New Concrete for Painting
How to Check if New Concrete is Ready to Paint
Fresh concrete needs to cure for 30 to 60 days before it's dry enough to paint. Perform a moisture test by taping a piece of clear plastic to one of the steps and leaving it for a day – if you notice condensation on the underside of the plastic, the concrete needs more time to dry.
Check for Concrete Porosity
Once the steps are dry enough to paint, check porosity by spraying some water on the steps to make sure it soaks in. If it doesn't, the concrete probably won't hold paint either, so consider leaving the steps unpainted until a later date.
Etch Concrete for Painting
Finally, etch new, porous concrete with a commercial etching product – following the directions on the container – and rinse thoroughly.
PREPARE PREVIOUSLY PAINTED CONCRETE
WHEN TO STRIP AWAY PAINT
If your steps have been previously painted, you may elect to strip the paint with a chemical stripper. This is advisable if the paint on your concrete steps is in poor condition.
SCRUB LOOSE PAINT, REPAIR IF NECESSARY
Use a wire brush to scrub off loose paint, then sweep the paint chips into a pile, collect and dispose them. If the concrete is cracked or chipped, fill the voids with mortar or epoxy concrete filler. After this product dries – which takes about 24 hours –clean up the patches by sanding them with an orbital sander, just as you would sand similar patches on wood. Work with 120-grit wet/dry sandpaper, which keeps its tooth longer than garnet or silicon oxide paper.
WASH AND PRIME
SAVE TIME WITH A PAINT SPRAYER
Etch previously painted concrete with a cleaning solution. Work the solution in with a stiff scrub brush to degrease the existing paint while you etch it. Rinse the steps well, then mask around the post bases and bottom rail, if present, with masking tape. Seal unpainted concrete with concrete bonding primer. Apply a single coat of the primer, starting at the top of the steps and working down. A Wagner FLEXiO HVLP paint sprayer will get the job done faster than a brush, and with a better finish.
APPLY THE TOP COAT
What Kind of Paint for Concrete
The best types of paint for concrete are high-quality low-luster oil-based or latex porch and floor enamel, acrylic latex paints, epoxy-based paints, and masonry paints. To know which is the right solution for your steps or other concrete surface, it's best to speak with your local paint retailer.
How to Prevent Slick Concrete
To prevent accidents on the steps and floors, a non-slip coating is recommended; you can either stir aggregate into your paint or purchase paint with the aggregate already added. Porch and floor enamel is usually too thick to spray, especially if it contains aggregate, so apply it with a 4-inch paintbrush. Keep in mind that adding aggregate to the paint usually reduces the coverage. Plan for that by having an extra gallon on hand. You can save paint by adding aggregate only to the final coat. When you've applied the final coat, step back and appreciate the difference you just made to your home's appearance.
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