Matt is a professional painter and freelance writer, sharing his knowledge, house-painting tips, and product reviews.
Why Paint Your Basement Floor?
The smooth finish of an epoxy-coated floor is easier to clean and looks amazing. Even the drab look of an unfinished basement can be much improved by painting the floor. Floor coatings provide a protective finish and improve property value. Floor painting is easy and can usually be done in two days or less. Like any painting project, the product choice and surface preparation are very important. Concrete needs to be thoroughly cleaned before coating it.
Is Your Basement Floor Wet?
A basement floor should be totally dry before painting. Floor coatings won't bond properly to a damp surface. Leaks should be fixed first. Use a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture.
One way to check for existing moisture on your basement floor is to tape a piece of transparent plastic to the surface. Tightly seal the edges of the plastic with tape so air cannot enter. Inspect the plastic the next day for condensation. You can also use a moisture meter.
Floor Paint Vs. Epoxy
Epoxy and floor paint are both durable options for a basement, but epoxy dries a lot harder, providing more durability. Some epoxy coatings look more decorative than paint too, but most floor paints have a glossy finish that looks very nice.
The best epoxy for a basement is water-based. Solvent-based epoxy dries harder, but these products are mostly used for industrial application, or in a garage, where the door can be opened to air out the space. The fumes are horrible and not safe in an enclosed basement near the pilot light of a furnace or other heat source. Water-based epoxy dries faster and still provides excellent durability without dangerous fumes. Some products allow you to walk on the floor the day after application.
Rust-Oleum Epoxy Shield Kit
Epoxy Shield is a two part, water-based coating, for basement floors. The kit includes a cup of flakes you mix with the epoxy for a decorative look. The finish is a glossy satin that can be top coated with a clear finish for added durability.
Drylok is a water-based floor paint that works well on concrete in a basement or garage. This product does not require primer. The material dries in about four hours, allowing foot traffic the same day of application. The paint doesn't have a decorative flake finish.
Sherwin Williams Porch and Floor Enamel
I have painted basement stairs and one concrete floor with Porch and Floor Enamel. The paint comes in a satin or gloss finish. No primer is needed. I always apply two coats, and the material dries the same day. The paint is durable as long as it's applied on a clean and prepared surface.
Is Primer Needed?
Some floor paints require a bonding primer before painting, some don't. Most two-part epoxy kits do not require primer. It's important to determine whether you need to use primer or not. Failing to use a primer when needed can result in peeling paint.
Prepare the Floor
The surface must be clean and dry before applying any material. Fill existing cracks with patching compound designed for use on concrete. Sweep the floor and then wash the surface. If the concrete is sealed, it might need to be etched before coating. Etching is sort of like liquid sanding. It makes the surface of concrete more porous so paint can seep in better for a stronger bond. Read the application specs for the product you want to use so you can buy the right materials for preparation.
Painting a floor is very easy. The prep work is what consumes the most time. Cut-in along the edges where the floor meets the wall. Roll the material on with a 1/4" nap roller of 9". The easiest way to roll paint on a floor is with an extendable painting pole.
MelloYelloMan on November 06, 2011:
Epoxy for the win man :) I hate working with it though, to be honest... haha!