A fresh coat of paint is a great way to refresh your concrete driveway. Even an old and weathered driveway will look like new once you paint it. Paint also protects your driveway from wear and tear, prevents or hides discoloration, and makes it easier to clean. In this guide, we discuss how to paint a concrete driveway including what kind of paint is best for concrete.
What You'll Learn Today
- Can You Paint An Old Driveway?
- What Kind Of Paint Do You Need For A Concrete Driveway?
- A Step By Step Guide to Painting Your Concrete Driveway
- How To Remove Paint From A Concrete Driveway?
- How Long Does Paint or Epoxy Last On A Concrete Driveway?
- Do You Need To Seal A Concrete Driveway Before Painting?
Can You Paint An Old Driveway?
Before you go buy paint and rollers, check the condition of your driveway.
A bit of wear and tear on the driveway is okay. You can easily patch up narrow cracks and clean away mold on the concrete. You can then paint over the concrete.
However, If you have some deep or wide cracks or a few potholes, consider resurfacing. This is a more intensive type of repair.
It involves removing the top layer of the driveway and pouring on a new layer. I recommend hiring contractors to handle the job especially if you have a long driveway.
In some cases, even resurfacing is not enough to repair your concrete driveway. If you have areas that are crumbling, deep potholes that go down to the substrate or tree roots poking through the concrete, it’s probably best to replace the entire driveway.
This is especially the case if your driveway is over 20 years old. There are probably a lot more problems underneath that you cannot see.
What Kind Of Paint Do You Need For A Concrete Driveway?
The first step is shopping for the right kind of paint for the driveway.
You need a paint that’s suitable for exterior use, that can withstand human and car traffic, and that will bond well with the concrete surface and last for years.
I recommend using an epoxy coating.
An epoxy coating is not actually a paint. It’s a mixture of epoxy resin and a hardener. When applied on concrete, an epoxy creates a hard, smooth and extremely durable surface.
An epoxy coated driveway will resist wear and tear, discoloration, oils and chemicals, scuffing, peeling, cracks and other kinds of damage.
Epoxy coatings for concrete driveways come in a range of colors. You can even find coatings with decorative flakes or chips.
If you prefer using a paint, look for an epoxy paint. This is different from an epoxy coating.
An epoxy paint is a regular latex acrylic paint with some epoxy resin mixed in. You may also find it labeled as one-part epoxy paint.
While not as durable as an epoxy coating, epoxy paint is more hardwearing than other types of paints.
A Step By Step Guide to Painting Your Concrete Driveway
Once you are sure your driveway is in a good condition and you have chosen the right paint or epoxy, time to get to work.
Here’s a step by step guide to follow if you are painting the driveway yourself.
By the way, you need to find a place to park your vehicle for the next 7 days or leave it in the garage for that period. It takes 7 days for most paints and coating to cure enough to drive over.
1. Prep the driveway
Properly preparing the surface to be painted or coated is super important. Poor prep work will significantly reduce the lifespan of your paint or epoxy coating.
- Sweep away leaves and dirt from the driveway to expose any cracks. If you find some, patch them. Here’s a video on how to fix cracks on concrete.
- Pressure-wash the driveway to get rid of any dirt and loose particles that could prevent paint from adhering on the surface. Give the driveway a few hours to dry.
- If you have oil or grease on the driveway, you can use baking soda or cat litter to get rid of it. But TSP (trisodium phosphate) works faster and is more effective especially on stubborn stains.
- If you are using an epoxy paint, apply an etch primer to the concrete. Follow the instructions on the label. An etch primer does two things to improve paint adhesion: it etches the surface of the concrete and creates a high-adhesion layer for the paint.
- If you are applying an epoxy coating, etch the concrete using muriatic acid. You can also use a diamond grinder, shot blaster or sandblaster to prepare the concrete for the epoxy.
Tip: Check the weather forecast to make sure you have a few days of dry weather before you begin your project. If it’s very hot, plan to work during the morning or evening hours when the concrete driveway is not too hot.
2. Painting a concrete driveway
Prepare and gather all your painting supplies. You’ll need:
- Paint & paint thinner
- Paint mixer drill attachment if you plan to combine 2 or more paints
- Paint tray
- Handheld paint brush
- Paint roller
- Tape to cover any areas you don’t want paint to get on such as the garage door.
For the first coat, it’s a good idea to thin the paint a bit to make it easier to spread and ensure it penetrates into the concrete. Mix paint and paint thinner in a 4:1 ratio and pour the mixture into a paint tray.
Using a handheld paint brush, paint a 6-inch band along the edges of the driveway. A hand held brush will give you better control along the tight and narrow areas. This is called cutting in.
After cutting in, now you can take your roller brush, dip it in the paint tray and paint the rest of the driveway.
Make sure you apply an even coat.
Give the first coat several hours to dry (check the label for the specific drying time) then apply a second coat of epoxy paint.
If you want, you can also apply a clear coat on top for additional protection.
Tip: While you can walk on the driveway hours after painting it, wait at least 7 days before you drive on it.
3. Applying an epoxy coat on a concrete driveway
Hopefully, you have your driveway ready to accept the epoxy coating. As I discussed above, you can either etch it with acid, grind it, or blast it.
Next, apply the epoxy primer that will improve how strongly the epoxy bonds to the concrete surface.
Now you are ready to apply the epoxy coating itself. You’ll need to mix the two parts. You can also mix in sand to create an anti-slip surface.
Note that once you start mixing, you’ll need to work quickly before the epoxy dries in the bucket.
Start by applying the epoxy along the edges using a handheld brush, then fill in the remaining areas with a wide roller brush.
If you want, you can add a second layer of epoxy after 24 hours to create a thicker more durable coating. But you’ll need to sand down the first layer for the second layer to adhere.
Finish by applying a clear top coat.
Similar to paint, it’s best to wait 7 days before driving on the driveway after applying epoxy.
If you have a gravel driveway that you want to paint, check out this guide.
How To Remove Paint From A Concrete Driveway?
If there’s old paint on the driveway, you’ll need to remove it first before applying a new coat of paint or epoxy.
There are several ways to do this.
The most effective is using a paint stripper. First clean the driveway then apply the paint stripper. Let it sit for the recommended time then brush the driveway with a wire brush.
Finish by power-washing the driveway. This should get rid of all the paint.
You can also use a powerful pressure washer to strip old paint off the concrete driveway. This only works with a 3000+ PSI pressure washer. A hot water pressure washer is even better.
Other options include a floor grinder, sand blaster or shot blaster. These more aggressive methods also work for removing an old epoxy coating from concrete.
How Long Does Paint or Epoxy Last On A Concrete Driveway?
With the right kind of prep and good quality epoxy paint, the paint on a concrete driveway can last 3-5 years.
The actual lifespan will depend on climate, amount of traffic and how well you maintain the driveway.
Epoxy coatings last much longer — between 5 and 10 years depending on quality of coating, weather conditions, and how much traffic the driveway gets.
As with paint, the prep work also makes a big difference in the longevity of the epoxy coating. If you don’t etch or grind the concrete or fail to use primer, you might start to see the coating peeling and cracking in just a couple of years.
Do You Need To Seal A Concrete Driveway Before Painting?
You don’t need to seal a concrete driveway before painting. It will hold up well over the years even without sealing.
The primer and driveway paint or epoxy coating will provide adequate protection to the concrete.
Sealing a concrete driveway is more useful if you don’t plan to paint it or apply an epoxy coating. In that case, the sealant can extend the life of the driveway.
But keep in mind that you’ll need to re-apply the sealant every few years.