A great way to enhance the appearance of your garage is by painting its floor. A painted garage floor not only looks better than bare concrete, but the paint protects the floor and can make it last longer. While it may seem like a big undertaking, the tough part is clearing out garage items and getting the floor ready to paint. Of course, this is a good excuse to try and get rid of a lot of things you really don’t need.
Step 1: Clean and Prepare the Floor
Remove all items from the garage floor. It must be clean and free of loose paint, cement particles or any other foreign matter, before you paint. Place items outside temporarily so you have access to all corners, nooks and crannies of the garage. Use a wire brush and a solution of trisodium phosphate (TSP) to scrub the floor clean and remove any foreign matter on the surface of the concrete. If the floor is already painted, you will need to use a scraper to take off any loose paint and any stubborn surface matter. Vacuum the scraped-off paint and spray the floor with a pressure washer or hard spray from a hose, and then mop. Allow the floor to dry, and then thoroughly sweep the entire floor surface with a broom for good measure.
Always wear protective clothing when working with TSP. Follow manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
If you scrape, sand or remove any old paint, you may release lead dust. Lead is toxic. Exposure to lead dust can cause serious illness, such as brain damage, especially in children. Expectant mothers should also avoid exposure. Wear a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-approved respirator to control lead exposure. Clean up carefully with a HEPA vacuum and a wet mop. Before you start, find out how to protect yourself by contacting the National Lead Hotline at 1-800-424-LEAD or log on to www.epa.gov/lead.
Remove any oil or grease on the floor with a degreaser. Apply the degreaser and scrub the stain with a stiff-bristle brush, and then wipe with clean rags. This is so the stains won’t cause discoloration or other problems with your paint job. Once you’ve finished cleaning, make any needed repairs to the floor.
Fix any cracks or holes in the masonry with a concrete patch or a hydraulic cement. Your local True Value associate can help you choose which product is best for your garage. Follow the manufacturer’s directions when applying the concrete patch or hydraulic cement.
Any moisture problems need to be taken care of before you can paint, so it’s a good idea to seal your masonry. Even if you don’t see any actual wet spots on your floor or walls, you may still have moisture hidden in the concrete. This could cause problems when you paint. Tape a few pieces of plastic kitchen wrap to different areas of the floor, making them as airtight as possible. Leave them overnight. If any condensation appears on the plastic wrap, you’ll have to seal the concrete. See Step 3 for tips on how to seal your concrete surfaces.
Step 2: Etch with Acid
While existing paint can be painted over, new floors or those with any bare spots (including areas revealed when scraping loose, peeling paint) should be acid etched before painting. It’s recommended this job be left to a professional, but an experienced DIYer can etch concrete when the task is done carefully.
Carefully prepare a solution of one part muriatic acid to three parts water, using one gallon per 100 square feet of surface (a 10 x 10-ft. area). Use a stiff fiber bristle brush to scrub the solution into the concrete. Allow the solution to remain on the surface until it stops bubbling. Flush the solution off thoroughly with clean water. If the surface is not dry within a few hours, flush again with water. The surface must dry evenly — if puddles develop, the solution will become more concentrated and affect the performance of the primer and paint.
ALWAYS add the acid to water to prevent the splash of hot acid — NEVER pour water into acid.
Muriatic acid can cause severe chemical burns as a result of contact with skin or eyes, as well as irritation of the nose and throat from the inhalation of vapors. Always wear protective clothing such as rubber boots, rubber gloves and work goggles when using muriatic acid. Always follow manufacturer’s instructions when handling acid.
A proper etch will give the concrete a surface texture like #1 or #2 sandpaper. After the surface has dried, use a vacuum or damp rag to remove the powder created by etching. Next, sweep the floor with a broom. If you don’t remove the powder entirely, you’ll run into problems when you prime and paint. You can start priming when the surface is chemically neutral and completely dry.
Previously painted concrete floors do not need to be acid etched where the existing paint is still in good shape.
Step 3: Seal and Prime
After the surface is clean and dry, the next step is to seal and prime. This will keep moisture from seeping through the concrete and help waterproof your floors. It will also help the paint bond to the surfaces better. Your local True Value hardware store carries sealer and complementary primer to build a strong, water-resistant foundation for your paint. Apply the sealant generously using a roller or sprayer. Allow it to dry completely before applying the primer in the same way. Once the primer has dried, it’s time to paint.
Step 4: Apply Masonry Paint and/or Floor Coating
Paint the floor with a properly formulated, waterproof acrylic latex masonry paint that can withstand foot traffic, such as True Value EasyCare Ultra Premium Exterior Masonry/Stucco Paint. Use a roller with extension pole or sprayer to cover the entire surface evenly. Let it dry overnight. If you see any thin patches on the floor the next day, add another coat of masonry paint.
Paint fumes are toxic. Make sure your work area is well-ventilated, using fans to circulate air and opening windows where you can.
Good job! With a little bit of work and a few coats of paint, you’ve added some value to your home and made your garage look great.
Project Shopping List
Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.