How to Paint Your Concrete or Wood Porch

Your front porch is the first thing guests see when visiting your house. Whether it’s wood or concrete, every porch needs a bit of upkeep. If yours is looking a little worse for wear, now is a good time to take a weekend to renew it to its original glory.

Step 1: Prep the Surface

Before you start working, you’ll need to take everything off your porch. If you have any delicate ground plants nearby, be sure to cover them with protective drop cloths.

If you have a wood porch, sweep away loose debris with a broom and clean between the cracks using a slender stick or tool. Remove dirt, dust, oil and grease with a garden hose or a pressure washer. Begin at one end of the porch and continue until you have rinsed the entire surface area, removing as much dirt as possible. Spray between porch boards to eliminate any remaining debris. Let the surface dry for about 24 hours before you paint.

For a concrete surface, scrub the porch clean with a mixture of water and detergent. Rinse thoroughly to remove all of the detergent. If the porch surface is already painted, clean it with a solution of Trisodium Phosphate (TSP) and water. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using TSP. Let your porch dry completely before moving on to paint.

Scrape off any existing paint using a scraper, pole sander or power sander—both of which will make the job a bit easier. Afterwards, mop the surface to remove dust and debris from the removal of the old paint.

Safety Alert!

TSP can be very corrosive. Always remember to wear rubber gloves and eye protection when working with chemicals like TSP, as well as a pressure washer, sander and primer and paint. Consider wearing kneepads if you need to work on your knees.

Step 2: Etch the Surface (For Concrete)

If the concrete surface has never been painted, it will need to be etched with a 5 to 10% muriatic acid and water solution. This will help the primer and paint adhere properly. While it’s recommended this job be left to a professional, an experienced DIYer can etch concrete when the task is done carefully.

Safety Alerts!

Always wear protective clothing like rubber boots, rubber gloves and work goggles when working with muriatic acid.

Always add acid to water to prevent splashing—never pour water into acid. Muriatic acid can cause severe chemical burns on skin or eyes, as well as irritation of the nose and throat from inhaling vapors. Always follow all label instructions.

Use one gallon of the muriatic acid solution for every 100 square feet of surface, scrubbing with a stiff fiber bristle brush. Allow the solution to remain on the concrete until it stops bubbling. Flush the solution off thoroughly with clean water. If the porch is not dry within a few hours, rinse it with water again. The surface must dry evenly because if puddles develop, the solution will become more concentrated. This will affect the paint and primer applied to the concrete.

Once the surface has dried, use a shop vacuum and a damp rag to remove the powder created by etching. If you don’t remove this powder, the primer and paint won’t adhere to the concrete properly. You can begin painting when the surface is chemically neutral and dry. A proper etch will give the concrete surface a texture like #1 or #2 sandpaper.

Step 3: Use a Primer

After the surface of the porch is clean, it’s necessary to prime before painting. For wood porches, apply two coats of exterior primer using a roller applicator on an extension pole. Using an extension will make the entire job easier on your back. Use a small brush for any areas not accessible by the roller. Let it dry for about eight hours.

A concrete porch only requires one coat of concrete primer. Apply the primer as you would to a wood porch, using a roller applicator and a brush for the hard-to-reach spots. Allow the primer to dry for approximately eight hours.

Step 4: Choose a Paint

Choose a paint color that matches or complements your home’s exterior. Muted shades are common and ideal. A darker color will emphasize your porch, while a lighter color will keep your porch understated. Talk to your local True Value Color Expert for advice and help choosing custom colors.

Make sure you choose a paint specially formulated for floors. Floor paints are very versatile and many can be used on almost any kind of surface, but these paints are designed specifically for floors. Floor paint will stand up to the wear and tear your porch receives. Urethane paint provides a high-gloss finish, while acrylic latex provides a more non-slip finish. Latex floor paint is usually used for concrete floors, but oil-based epoxy floor paints often last longer.

Step 5: Start Painting

For a wood porch, you’ll need to apply two coats of paint. Apply the first coat of acrylic latex floor paint with a roller applicator with extension pole or a sprayer. Use a brush to cover areas that are hard to get to or require a more precise touch. Let it dry thoroughly before applying a second coat. Stay off the porch for two days to let the paint dry completely.

For concrete porches, apply the first coat with a roller or sprayer, letting the paint dry before applying the second coat. Again, use a brush to cover areas that are hard to get to or require a more precise touch. Let the paint dry for a minimum of two days before letting anyone walk on it.

When applying paint to concrete porch steps, add a small amount of clean, fine sand into the paint. This will make the surface of the porch rougher when the paint dries and give you better traction in inclement weather.

Helpful Tip

Mix a little bit of citronella into the paint to keep insects from landing on the drying paint.

Step 6: Clean Up

Rinse your roller covers and brushes with water or paint thinner until the water or solvent runs clear. Store applicators in plastic bags or hang them on nails or hooks to dry. Pick up drop cloths and once the porch has dried completely, replace your outdoor furniture.

Well done! Step back and admire your renewed porch.

Project Shopping List

Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.