How to Paint Basement Floor (and get the best result)11 min read

How to Paint Basement Floor (and get the best result)11 min read

Thinking of adding extra useful space to your house? Simple. Paint basement floor – Move furniture, clean, degrease, prep, paint and let it dry.

Voila! There you got some useful good looking basement space. Wait. Don’t run to work on the basement floor painting project yet. 

This article is detailed with all the things you need to consider when turning your bare basement concrete floor into a useful, good looking, sealed painted floor.

In fact, a fresh coat of paint is the easiest project for your basement.  The floor painting is a simple DIY project and wouldn’t take much time either. It’s great for beginners.

Get your tools and supplies and you’re ready to get to work.

1. Considerations before starting the basement floor painting project

It might sound easy – just wetting the roller and painting the floor.  But concrete is a material that needs certain things present, others absent and conditions right.

I know you want to know how to paint the basement floor. But prep work makes or breaks the project.

You must first treat the concrete such that the paint adhere to the surface.  Never paint when it’s too humid and when it’s cold. Oh, you can’t paint on a wet floor.

The basement floor is notorious to breathe and sucks in moisture from the ground below. Which means, it will be wet for no reason.

And your paint project will go in vain if you attempt to paint without preparing the floor.

Here’s a short list to look for before starting the project:

Floor Moisture Check:

To see if moisture is seeping through, you must test for it first. Take a 2 x 2 sheet of transparent plastic sheet and stick it on the floor.  

Tape the perimeter of the plastic sheet so no air freely passed in or out of the sheet.  You aim is to isolate a portion of the floor.  

If your floor sucks moisture from the ground and lets it into the basement space you will see the condensation underside (side of the floor) of the plastic sheet on the floor.

Air Moisture Check.

On the flip side, if your walls are sucking moisture in and letting it into the air, you can test that too.

The same plastic sheet will show condensation on the outside, i.e. on the side of the plastic sheet facing the ceiling. 

This is a serious problem that needs your attention and must be alleviated immediately. However, for our project at hand that is a simple solution.

Run a dehumidifier at least for the duration of the project. (and if possible run it fully until the basement moisture issue is resolved)

I’ve got an article specifically to suggest where to place dehumidifier for maximum benefit.

Temperature control:

The best is to have a controlled temperature while the project is in progress.

Too cold is not good since the paint wouldn’t dry inside out and if the temperature is too high the particles start to separate.

According to experts, it’s better to be at good 72 degrees F with dry air.  If you can set and control your thermostat it’s always better. 

In any case, never go below 45 degrees F and above 95 degrees F.

2. Move Furniture Out and Get your Pets Away

 Having furniture in the room and painting the wall is one thing, but painting the floor is whole another.  

Don’t even try to keep the furniture in the same room and try to paint the floors. It will take time to dry and you don’t want to risk running the furniture over the wet paint.

It’s better to move it out of the basement or at least to a different room. 

Some of the paint products that you may use will have a shorter drying time and you will not have enough time to move furniture before continuing the painting. 

So move it out of the way – to a different room that you will not paint in that session or on that day.

It’s a show stopper to have your pets (and kids) around. You don’t want your pets anywhere near the work area from now until the project is 100% complete.

3. Repair the Cracks in the Basement Floor

This is an important step.  Concrete is porous and so it will breathe.  That brings moisture. However, if you have cracks you are exposed to the dirt directly.

This needs to be corrected. 

Small Cracks

You will find a few of these. If it’s not visibly noticeable you can get way with dabbing more paint and filling it.

Same applies to pinholes. You will likely find it after your first coat. You just need extra paint at that spot to fill and bring it to the surface level.

For other cracks that are small but can’t really stick a pencil in you will a hard time filling it.

You may not have enough surface area for the filling compound to stick to.

In that case, use an angle grinder to widen the gap – It creates a V-shaped gap – and apply the filling compound. Use a vacuum attachment while grinding to remove dust from widening the gap.

And come back with a sharp edge to wipe the excess to make it level with the surface.

Angle Grinder Widening a Small Crack for More Surface Area

Big Cracks

Get a filling foam or a rubber piping and stick it into the gap to take up most of the space and you can make a surface filling with the crack filler.

Else you will end up spending the crack filler in just an inch. Alternatively, you could use cement to fill the space.

But experts suggest using an expanding type crack filler, so it can adjust for future movements but keep it filled.

Fill Cracks and Push the Filler in

You can find floor repair and leveling kits in your hardware store. Use it wisely.  If you overuse it and you need to grind the excess down to level the floor.

So, use caution and fill the cracks alone.

Get a sharp edge chisel to remove the excess before the filler cures. You may still find the surface rough and in that case, you may want to use a grinder to smooth the surface.

Fill and Remove the Excess Filler Material

4. Clean and Remove Basement Floor Debris. 

Take your finger and run it against the floor, you will see dust.  Now this will not let the paint stick properly.

So here is the ritual you must follow. Sweep, degrease, rinse, mop, and dry.

Sweep and pick all debris from the floor. Then vacuum the floor two times. 

If you find any oil residue you must use a recommended degreaser to remove the oil. 

Use Soap and Scrub with Brush to Remove Hard Residue

Then you must hit the floor with a soap solution that will remove any dirt that is stuck to the floor. Let the solution soak in and then you must use a heavy brush to scrub every square inch of the floor.

This is the hard part… Believe me, it hurts. So take your time and do it in portions.

Then remove all the soap residue, and mop the floor twice.  The last one with clean water – You need it squeaky clean.

Increase the room temperature so the air is super hot and let it dry. 

5. Remove Doors, Tape, and Mask

Remove Doors and any other fixture that comes in the way but is removable. If you are unable to remove then get painter tape and mask the bottom and the sides that closer or touch the floor.

Tape the baseboards, cabinet bottoms (around toe kick), floor transitions and other fixed objects touching the floor.

6. Pick the Paint and Roll It on the Floor

Choose the Color

Did you pick the color you want to floor to be? Grey is what you see everywhere.  That doesn’t mean you need to stick to it.

You could choose from a variety of different colors available.  Make sure the color is not too bright or it will be an eyesore.

First Coat Floor Painting

First, you must use a hand brush and cut it along the perimeter of the floor and hard to reach objects.  Once that is achieved then you can to the easy part.

Cut in the perimeter by hand painting
Cut in by Hand – Perimeter of Room

Use a good paint roller, specifically designed to paint hard surface. Think before you start painting and identify the best place to start and finish.

Start at the opposite side of the room from where the door is. If you start and work your way into the room, then you have no choice but to walk over the paint.  

Roller Painting the Concrete Floor - First Coat
Paint the Floor With Roller after Perimeter Cut in

Let me tell you, that ain’t going to be particularly pleasing.

Final Coat Painting

Wait until the floor dries completely.  Once you are sure that the floor is dry, inspect first to see the finish. 

Regardless of the finish, you must come with a second coat. But if you can identify issues, you still have time to fix before coming up with the second coat.

Final Coat Paint After First Coat is Fully Dry
Second and a Final Coat Make it Look Perfect

Then it’s good to hit it with a second and or a final coat and let it completely dry.

Basement Floor Painting ideas

You don’t have to settle for a grey or a boring usual color that you see.

In fact, you don’t even have to settle for an ordinary paint look.

Sky like pattern in concrete floor using epoxy
Epoxy Coating Over Concrete – Sky Look

There are many finished that you can achieve. 

  • Paint your basement concrete floor to look like a wood
  • Paint your basement concrete floor to look like a marble
  • Use Epoxy and get creative with basement floor finishes

BTW, if you’re thinking of painting as the only option you are totally misguided.

You should check my post (Killer Flooring Choices) detailing 17 different products that can be used for basement flooring.

Wrapping up:

There you have it.    A fully functional clean and good looking basement floor. 

It’s isn’t hard, but it takes time. Painting wall and floor are totally different.

What separates a good floor paint job from a sloppy one is the amount of prep work that goes into the floor.  

Plan prep and get results with painting basement floor

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