Painting Concrete Patios: A Professional Guide

Whether you want to make your old, tired-looking patio presentable in anticipation of a house sale or you’re simply looking for an easy-on-the-budget way to spruce up your garden, painting your concrete patio is an ideal solution.

But can you even paint your patio without it washing away in weeks? What paint should you use? And what’s the best method for painting your concrete slabs? We answer all these questions in this handy guide, written by a professional decorator with over 20 years of experience.

Can You Paint Concrete Patios?

You can paint concrete patios without experiencing issues assuming you prepare the surface correctly and use a suitable paint system. If you don’t prepare the surface properly or if you use a paint system that isn’t designed for use on concrete, the paint is liable to flake or peel after a short while and means you’ll have to restart the project.

Can You Use Regular Masonry Paint to Paint Your Patio Slabs?

It’s entirely possible to use regular masonry paint to paint your patio slabs although you will need to take additional steps to ensure it withstands the elements and regular foot traffic.

Without using a paving sealer, ordinary masonry paint will need touching up far more frequently. Of course, it’s not going to last a lifetime so keep this in mind before painting concrete slabs with regular masonry paint.

What Paint Should You Use?

Now we’ve established that you CAN use regular masonry paint, let’s look at the paint that you SHOULD use.

My preferred concrete paint, and the one that I’ve tried and tested many times, is Resincoat Outdoor Patio Paint. This concrete flag paint comes in an attractive matt finish which not only looks good but also ensures you don’t make your patio more slippery after painting it thus saving you from potential injuries.

Furthermore, when used in conjunction with their Etch and Clean product, you’ll ensure your patio is looking great for years to come as this primer gives the outdoor patio paint a great surface to adhere to.

Alternatively, Johnstone’s Pliolite Masonry Paint is a decent option due to the fact that you can tint the colour to anything you want as opposed to Resincoat who only offers 6 different colours.

Be warned however that Johnstone’s Pliolite Masonry Paint isn’t going to last as long as Resincoat and you’ll also need to make sure you reinforce it by sealing the paint. Just to add, you may also want to thin the Pliolite paint down with roughly 10% clean water as it’s a bit thick and would be a bit difficult to spread across your patio.

Does Painted Concrete Patios Last?

Painted concrete can last years without so much as a blemish but this is entirely dependent on how well you prepare the substrate before painting, what type of paint you use, whether you used a sealer or not, how much foot traffic the concrete is exposed to and finally how often the concrete is subjected to standing water.

Painted Concrete Patios Ideas and Colour Schemes

When it comes to ideas and colour schemes, it’s often more important to consider what you personally would like to achieve with your garden space.

If you’re going for a complete redesign of your entire garden, you have a lot of freedom in choosing colour schemes. If you’re just painting your patio then it might be a good idea to consider how your chosen colour will integrate with the rest of your garden.

Currently, greys are all the rage due to their timeless look and ability to work with any given garden scheme. Choose a lighter grey such as Goose Grey for a more modern look or something on the darker side such as Anthracite Grey if you don’t want to worry about the upkeep of the patio so much as it’ll make it difficult to notice as the patio gets dirtier.

You could also go with a more neutral colour such as black or white which is especially ideal if your garden furniture is a bold colour as the neutral colours won’t interfere with your current style.

Finally, you could always try a stencil option. Check out a stencilled patio we did for a client last summer:

How to Paint A Concrete Patio (2 methods)

In my experience, there are two methods of painting concrete patios that will produce impressive, long-lasting results.

Method One – Using Specific Concrete Patio Paint and Primer

Method one is using a specific concrete patio paint along with a specific patio primer and this is the method I would personally recommend as I’ve found that whenever I go back to a client’s home years after completing the patio, it still looks as good as new. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how you can paint your patio using this method.

Tools for the job:

  • Resincoat Outdoor Patio Paint
  • Etch and Clean
  • Concrete filler
  • Long pile roller
  • Extension pole
  • Jetwash machine
  • Stiff brush

Step 1: Make any necessary repairs

Inspect your patio for any holes or cracks. Should you find any, use a simple concrete crack repair kit to fill any gaps in the surface. Don’t be shy to use a little bit more than you think is necessary – these fillers can often shrink and if you do use too much, you can simply use an extra coarse sandpaper.

Step 2: Jetwash the patio

After you’ve repaired any cracks and waited the necessary time for the filler to fully harden, give the patio a clean down with a jetwash. This will remove any loose dust, debris and dirt and will make applying the Etch and Clean a breeze.

Step 3: Apply Etch and Clean

The actual product will go into more detail but the gist of it is:

  • Using a watering can or something similar, apply the Etch and Clean product evenly across your patio.
  • The patio should start frothing up – this is the acid reacting with alkaline and thus neutralising your patio.
  • Using a stiff brush, scrub the surface.
  • Once you notice that the froth has cleared, you can use water to wash away any residual froth.

Make sure you wait for the patio to completely dry before proceeding to the next step. Once the patio is completely dry, you’ll have a ready-primed surface on which to paint.

Step 4: Painting

Now your patio is cleaned, prepped and primed for painting, it’s time to get your brush/roller.

I use a mix of a masonry brush and a long pile roller (attached to an extension pole for a more comfortable application). The masonry brush allows me to cut in around the edges and is when you will need to be precise to ensure you have nice, sharp lines. The long pile roller is great for painting uneven surfaces such as concrete and furthermore, holds more paint than other types of rollers. This means you can paint for longer without having to dive back into your scuttle.

As mentioned above, my favourite paint to use for this type of project is Resincoat Outdoor Patio Paint. So with that to hand, give the paint a good stir and then start cutting in along the edges with the masonry brush. It’s best to work in areas of around 1m2 so cut in for 1x1m before using the roller to apply a thin layer of paint within that area.

Once you’ve completed that area, rinse and repeat until you’ve completed your first coat.

Depending on the colour that you’re painting over and the colour of paint you’re using, you’ll typically need to apply a further 1-2 coats.

Remember to ensure that you’re painting during good weather conditions. You should aim to paint when there’s a spell of 3-4 days of decent weather.

Method Two – Using Pliolite Masonry Paint and Sealing

If you want more control over the style of your garden and don’t want to be held back by a limited colour choice, you can use Pliolite Masonry Paint but don’t forget to seal it after you finish painting.

Tools for the job:

  • Johnstone’s Pliolite Masonry Paint
  • Clear patio sealer
  • Concrete filler
  • Acid wash for patios
  • Masonry brush
  • Long pile roller
  • Extension pole
  • Jetwash machine
  • Stiff brush

Step 1: Make any necessary repairs

As mentioned in method one, make any necessary repairs to your patio with a suitable concrete filler. This will give you an even surface on which to paint. Ensure the filler is fully dried before abrading back any excess filler.

Step 2: Jetwash the patio and apply an acid wash

To clean any dirt, oil and surface efflorescence, apply an acid wash to the patio. After application, use a jetwash to wash it away. Aside from cleaning the patio, the acid wash has an additional benefit in that it gives the concrete a more porous surface with which the paint can absorb in to.

Step 3: Painting

When the patio is fully dried and you’re expecting decent weather for the next few days, you can start painting.

Patio paint is meant to be applied in thin layers so I’d highly recommend thinning out the product with about 10-20% clean water. Once you’ve done that, give it a good stir for 5 minutes.

As with method one, cut in sections of 1m2 with a masonry brush and then apply the paint with a long-pile roller in thin layers.

Once you’ve applied the first coat, you’ll need to wait 24 hours before adding a second, hence the need for at least 3 days of nice weather.

Step 4: Seal the paint

Once you’ve applied your Pliolite Masonry Paint and you’ve left it for 24 hours to fully harden, you can apply the clear patio sealer.

It’s best to use 2 coats of the sealer as that will give your newly painted patio added protection from dirt, oil and rain.

Pros and Cons of Painting Concrete Patios

Like most painting projects, it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons before you start. Here are our pros and cons for painting concrete patios.

Saves money on laying a new patioWill need touch-ups every year or 2
Cheap way to refresh the look of your gardenCan be slippery if you use the wrong paint
Can make your patio easier to clean

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have to prime the concrete patio before painting?

It’s not strictly necessary to prime a concrete patio before painting as long as you use a good quality acid cleaner and jetwash it before painting. Priming will give you an extra bit of adhesion for the paint to stick to the concrete but if you’re not comfortable applying priming products then I’d say not to worry too much about it.

Is it worth it?

In my opinion, painting your patio is worth it if you can’t afford to lay a new patio but are eager to change the aesthetics of your garden. It’s a cheap way to achieve a big difference in the overall look and feel of your garden and will at least keep you ticking over for a couple of years.

Final Thoughts

Painting a concrete patio can be a relatively simple way to completely rejuvenate your garden space, not to mention add value to your property. As long as you follow the correct cleaning, preparation and paint system, you should be left with a patio that will be gleaming for years to come.