Paints & Coatings Resource Center

Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive

by Ron Joseph

July, 2002

Painting Concrete Walls

Q. We are moving into a duplex where the basement is not finished. The walls are gray concrete and I would like to paint them a bright color to give the basement a family room look. What is the best paint for this?

A. Painting concrete walls requires several steps. First wash down the wall with a solution of trisodiumphosphate (TSP) which you can purchase from your local hardware store. Follow all the application instructions on the packet, and in addition be careful to read and observe the health and safety instructions provided by the vendor.

If the concrete is new, but properly cured you can apply a primer which you will find in your local hardware store, and then follow with an acrylic latex in the color of your choice. The sales person in the hardware store should be able to recommend the appropriate primer. Since the walls are in the basement and not exposed to sunlight or weather conditions, you will not need to purchase the most expensive acrylic latex that is intended for outdoor exposure. Instead, you can pay less by purchasing one for interior use only.

If the concrete is old and well cured, you can dispense with the primer, and simply apply two coats of the acrylic latex. However, you should nevertheless wash down the walls and prepare them with TSP.

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