Renovating the Basement Floor – Painting the Concrete Floor Correctly

Renovating the Basement Floor – Painting the Concrete Floor Correctly

Refurbishing basement floors is not an easy matter. When painting modern concrete floors, there are a few things to consider. Since a higher level of dust is possible in basements, regular painting can reduce this considerably. The appearance of a cleanly painted concrete floor can also look significantly better and more cared for.

Refurbishing or painting basement floors is not always an easy matter. Old basement floors can consist of different materials. Old cellars are often built according to a moisture-regulating system that includes windows, doors, and basement floors. These floors must not simply be painted with water- or air-impermeable paint, otherwise the air circulation with the compensation of the moisture is endangered.

It is not uncommon for these old cellars to have a humidity of around 70 to 80 percent. Old basement floors have to be given a new floor when renovating from scratch. Otherwise, there is a risk of moisture build-up with the consequences of mold formation. Mold is not infrequently the big problem in old basements that have been renovated incorrectly.

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From around the 90s of the last century, cellar floors with a so-called vapor barrier were built in new buildings. The modern concrete floors in younger cellars are easy to paint. But there are also some important things to consider, such as special regulations when painting boiler rooms, using the right materials and colors, and much more. Since a very large amount of dust is often possible in cellars with concrete floors, it can be very useful to paint the concrete floor despite the somewhat higher effort. The appearance can also be greatly improved by a fresh and clean coat of paint.

Tip: If you want to renovate an old basement floor, lay tiles. This gives you a nice, clean, and hard-wearing floor that retains its ability to circulate through the joints without being completely sealed. Various loose materials suitable for these floors can also be modern, beautiful, and resilient for old basement floors. 

Material and preparation

The right color for painting concrete floors

For painting, you need cement or floor paint that can be diluted with water. It is not uncommon for basement floors to be exposed to high loads. This abrasion-resistant paint ensures hard-wearing and easy-care floors made of concrete or other mineral materials. This color is also resistant to a wide variety of chemicals. In addition to the basement floors, it can also be used, for example, in sheds, workshops, warehouses, and similar rooms that are provided with concrete floors. In boiler rooms, only oil-resistant paint may be used, which should be applied in three layers.

You will need these materials and tools:

  • a water-thinnable cement and floor paint,
  • possibly a deep, adhesive or barrier primer,
  • a large lambskin roll and a small lambskin roll,
  • various brushes, such as a radiator brush,
  • an extension rod for the paint rollers, e.g.  telescopic rod,
  • a bucket, broom, vacuum cleaner,
  • possibly a grinder, drill and whisk to stir the paint
  • Masking film or paper for covering, adhesive tape for masking plinths and strips.

The preparation of the floor before the first coat

The basement floor should be cleaned thoroughly before the first coat. Coarse dirt can be removed with a vacuum cleaner or broom. Then heavier soiling should be removed with water. If necessary, the entire floor can be wiped with water. It is important that the floor is free of dirt, dust, and grease and that it is completely dry before the first coat. Only then can the paint be applied. If a cleaning agent is used for wiping, the floor must be wiped with clean water to completely remove any residues of the cleaning agent. Very irregular floor surfaces may need to be sanded down and straightened before the first coat. Dust and dirt must also be removed very carefully from these floors after sanding.

The primer of the basement floor

Basement floors that are to be painted with a floor paint for the first time require a primer beforehand. Deep primer is a color that in most cases is based on alkyd or acrylic resin. This deep primer balances the absorbency of the floor and ensures better adhesion of the cement paint to the subfloor. This also means that less cement paint is required for adequate coverage. The deep primer should be applied to the basement floor in even and gapless strips. An adhesive primer may be sufficient for less absorbent substrates.

Floors that are regularly exposed to high levels of moisture, such as laundry rooms or the like, should be provided with a barrier primer. This barrier primer prevents water from penetrating the floor. The primer takes approximately 12 to 48 hours to dry. You can only apply the first coat of paint to your basement floor when the primer has completely dried.

Tip: Only use primers and paints that are specially designed for these floors in your garage. Plasticizers are contained in the rubber tires of cars and bicycles. These could affect the paintwork on the floor and dissolve the paint. Special paint for garages is available in stores.

Paint the basement floor

For a long shelf life and good coverage, basement floors should be painted at least twice with cement paint or floor paint.

Tip: Three layers of paint are provided for floors in boiler rooms. They should be painted in two different shades, for example, gray-blue-gray or something similar. Boiler cellars or boiler rooms are to be painted in accordance with fire protection regulations. The three layers of the oil-resistant paint should, for example, be easily recognizable by the paint finish on the wall for inspection by an expert.

The right painting of concrete basement floors

First, paint the edges and corners of the surface with a brush or a small lambskin roller. The strips and plinths should also be painted first. Then you can paint the entire area with the large roller in adjacent strips. The work should be done in one go, otherwise, color deposits could remain visible.

For the first coat of cement paint, you can dilute it with 10 percent water. Mix the paint evenly with a whisk for the drill. If there are older coats of paint, it may be necessary to apply an intermediate coat to the floor. The intermediate coat and the final coat should be done with undiluted cement or floor paint. You can simplify the intermediate coat by simply letting some paint flow onto the floor and distributing it evenly with the roller attached to a telescopic rod. However, you should paint the last coat of paint again in complete strips. Do not paint each pass until the previous paint has dried completely. 

Choice of color

You may only enter your freshly painted cellar floor after it is completely dry. The basement floor paint dries quickly. It should be easy to step on after a 24-hour drying time. You can get basement floor paint in hardware stores or in specialist shops, depending on the manufacturer, in different shades, such as white-gray, silver, gray, beige, and beige-gray, and others. It is also possible to distinguish between silk-matt, matt-glossy, silk-glossy or glossy.

Basement floor paint is usually available in paint buckets with a volume of 5 liters or more. Depending on the manufacturer, the areas that can be painted with this amount of paint vary. It is approximately 8 square meters with a single coat of paint. The qualities and prices for the color of the basement floor can also vary depending on the manufacturer. Inexpensive basement floor paint is available from around 5 euros per liter. Garage floor paint is also available in paint pots with a capacity of 2.5 liters and is often much more expensive than conventional cement or floor paint. Price comparison with different providers can prove to be very worthwhile.