my Old Workshop

How to paint your basement floor

Last time, we listed three ways you could finish your basement floor and covered the pros and cons of each. Let’s get into the how-to.

Paint is by far the most inexpensive — and the simplest — of basement floor coverings. Here’s how to do it right.

If the concrete is brand new, it needs to have cured for a good three to six months before you paint, and you’ll need to etch it — with acid. Muriatic acid is scary stuff, but if you follow safety precautions, it’s easy to work with. You should wear rubber boots, rubber gloves and work goggles, and keep your skin covered. Start by making a solution of one part muriatic acid to three parts water, adding the acid to the water rather than the other way around in order to avoid splashing.

Using about a gallon for every 100 square feet, apply the solution to the floor and scrub with a stiff bristle brush. Once it stops bubbling, rinse it well with clean water, rinsing again a few hours later. The floor should dry evenly, as puddles will concentrate the solution and affect the paint. Once it’s dry, vacuum the leftover powder.

Older concrete won’t be as smooth, and can simply be washed with a TSP solution rather than etched.

Once it’s all dry, you’re ready. Use a good acrylic latex (which will allow the concrete to breathe). Some kits come with paint chips, which give a rough finish akin to terrazzo. Or you can mask out patterns and make the floor really interesting.

Next time, we’ll look more closely at the carpeting option and what you need to do.