Paints & Coatings Resource Center

Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive

by Ron Joseph

December, 2000

Painting Concrete

Q. Our school has an outside basketball area with a smooth finish. It is very slippery and we would like to paint it for skid protection. We have tried to paint it with no success, the paint peals off. Is there a paint we shouls look for that will stick to smooth concrete?

A. On the previous occasions when you painted the concrete how did you prepare the surface? Most paints will not stick to smooth concrete that is exposed indoors and specifically outdoors. The trick is not the in paint, but the surface preparation. You need to etch the concrete to give it some "tooth".

Before you start the painting operation, you should first remove all of the old paint, or at least all of the loose old paint. Using a strong detergent, wash down the floor to remove all grease, oil, shoe prints, etc., and then hose down with fresh water to remove the soap solution (detergent). Most industrial paint supply stores can supply you with something like Muriatic Acid, which is dilute hydrochloric acid that you will need to apply to the floor until it has an etched finish. Then you will need to thoroughly hose down again with fresh water to remove the remaining traces of acid. After the concrete has been allowed to dry properly, you can apply the coating of your choice. I presume you will want a high quality acrylic latex floor finish that contains some grit or small sand particles. Industrial paint suppliers usually carry such coatings.

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