Painting is one of the best ways a homeowner can bring new life to a home’s interior. This is especially true for a space that might be overlooked, such as a garage, unfinished basement, or screened porch.
If you’re selling your home or looking for an easy refresh, paint a transitional space to enhance the look and feel of the area. For example, if the garage has a workbench or frequently used storage area, painting the floor creates a more inviting atmosphere. You can also update an unfinished basement room by painting the floor and walls, transforming square footage that might have been overlooked into an area suitable for exercise or crafting. And don’t forget the porch! Painting a porch floor creates a warm welcome for anyone approaching your house. You will surely appreciate these updates now, and if you do decide to sell, these efforts communicate to potential buyers that you have been a good steward.
These strategies should be helpful:
1. Settle on a solid color or a pattern. When you’re painting concrete, you can paint a solid color or you can be creative. Stencils, available at craft stores, can create a carpet effect. You can also create simple geometric designs using blue painter’s tape and a ruler. When considering design, think about the scale of the space you’re covering and how much time you want to dedicate to this project. Be sure to start your pattern from the focal point of the room and work outward. Few spaces are perfectly square, and it’s easier to manage issues at the edges than in the center, which is on full display.
2. As with so many painting projects, preparation is key. Start by assessing the surface. If a garage floor is the project, you’ll likely need a degreasing cleaner to remove oil or fluid drips. Now, carefully inspect for cracks or holes. Next, use a wire bristle brush to dislodge any loose concrete before filling gaps with concrete patch. After the patch dries, sand lightly and vacuum to remove dust. Then you need to clean. A power washer is good for a garage floor or porch; for an interior room, a stiff-bristled broom and soapy water will work. Rinse well to make sure no residue remains. Drying is essential. Wait at least twenty-four hours and then tape a 12-inch square piece of plastic to the floor, securing all edges. Wait another night. If moisture has collected inside the plastic, more drying time is needed. Repeat until the plastic stays dry, inside and out.
3. For the painting itself, use specially formulated concrete paint. Latex varieties are available. Like other paints, this can be tinted to the color of your choosing, especially if you plan for a pattern. You can also select paint with primer included; this will save a step. You’ll need an angled brush and a roller brush with a short nap. Using the angled brush, paint – or cut in – the edges of the first area to be rolled. Because you don’t want the cut-in edges to fully dry before you roll, it’s best to work in sections. Remember, too, rolling goes quickly. And it may sound obvious, but be sure to start at the point furthest away from the entrance/exit. You don’t want to paint yourself into the space.
4. Every coat of primer or paint has to dry thoroughly, at least twelve hours. Between coats, look for uneven spots in the surface or other imperfections. Scrape or sand these. It’s also a good idea to sand the entire surface lightly between coats, and then vacuum thoroughly again. This helps the next coat of paint adhere. After two color coats, let the paint dry a full twenty-four hours before applying a sealant. Be sure to purchase a top coat that’s specially formulated for concrete. Note that polyurethane may offer a tough surface, but can yellow over time. Let the top coat cure at least twenty-four hours before walking on it, and at least three days before replacing furniture.
Try to have fun with this project! Think about creating an interesting border, a bold geometric pattern, or if you’re truly creative, a trompe l’oeil effect (this is a painting that has shading to give an illusion of dimension, like a flipped corner). You’ll add visual
interest to a once-overlooked area, which should make everyone a little happier.
Photos: Courtesy H.J. Holtz & Son