Undisgusting Painted Basement Floor

(For an update on how the floors are holding up, 5 months later, click here.)

We’re finishing a room in our basement as part of a Fall In Love room makeover collaboration with a bunch of other fabulous bloggers. Read more about it and find links to all the other bloggers here.

I’m here today to share with you the best kept secret in the DIY world:

Painting floors is ridiculously easy. Fun, even.

But let’s back up a bit.

First we needed to clean out all the crap out of this part of our basement. A lot of stuff got moved into the room next door; a lot more of it went to the thrift store. It started like this:


Here’s Dave taking up a pile of donation stuff to load into the car:


And all finished!


Okay, but one of the problems with getting everything out of this room is that it drew attention to the absolutely horrible floor.

Here’s the before picture of our basement floor:


My friend Kristi, whose basement I have blogged about, used an acid stain on her concrete basement floor. And it looks amazing, so I always figured I’d do the same thing.

Then I really took a good look at the floor.

So I guess what an acid stain does it it kind of reacts with your concrete over a period of time and brings out all it’s beautiful natural variations and all that. Only our floor had nothing beautiful about it, only assorted spills and stains that of every sort that had accumulated over the years. There was even one small place with paint, as if someone had decided to paint the floor and then given up after five minutes.

I also read that you could test your floor to see if it would take the stain well by putting a small amount of water on it and seeing if it soaked in (yay: go stain!) or beaded up (no stain for you!). It soaked in some places and sat stubbornly on the concrete indefinitely in others.

Our floor was not a good candidate for staining.

We weren’t really sure what to do next, since we’d just had it in our head that we’d be doing the acid stain and hadn’t really researched further than this. I did some reading online, but finally we decided to just go to a couple of stores, ask some questions, and see what our options were. We went to Lowes first, where we asked our questions to a very young, very uninformative employee who–not kidding–could not pronounce the word “skid.” We had no idea what he was saying until he actually pointed to the label on the product he was talking about while explaining that they sold “anti-skart” paint for concrete. Skart. Skid. Skart. Skid. Yeah, I don’t know, either.Ā  Kids today!

So we tried Sherwin Williams. There an older and wiser sales associate who referred casually to his “many years of painting” showed us this stuff:

concrete stain

concrete stain

So this stuff is called a stain, too. But it’s an opaque stain that says it’s fine for previously painted floors. And the Sherwin Williams guy said it would work. It was on sale (and is through the beginning of November) for around $28/gallon, and we used 2 gallons (and have a lot left over).

Everything I’d read said we’d need to “etch” the basement floor before painting or staining, and the etching stuff was on the shelf right next to this stain. But when I asked about it, my new friend said we didn’t need to mess with it–that we just had to clean the floor thoroughly and then slap the stain right on there. No primer? No topcoat? I asked. He said no. Now, it says on the back of the stain that you MUST etch the floor before you use it. In all caps just like that. So. I don’t know. All I know is that etching sounded like a big pain in the butt and our Sherwin Williams guy said we didn’t need to. I will report back in a few months and let you know how the non-etched floor is holding up.

The stain had a few different color options, but the guy told us we could also get it in any custom color. We ended up with….gray. It was a custom mix (I can’t remember the name of the gray), but I think the gray that was a standard option wouldn’t have looked much different. I really wanted black, but I got nervous at the last second and went with the gray. I wish we’d gone with the black, as I think it would have covered up the ugly spots on the floor better. Also I feel like the gray looks very basement floorish. But! Oh well. I’m planning to cover most of it up with rugs anyway. But the moral is: don’t get nervous; paint everything black!!

Prep work:

Dave used the power sander to try to smooth down some of the rougher spots on the floor (spilled glue? attempts to patch small cracks? who knows what all). This took awhile, and had some effect, but definitely didn’t result in a completely smooth floor. Renting a big sander would not have been overkill. But we had time constraints and also didn’t really care about having a perfectly smooth floor.

Then we scrubbed and rinsed the floor two times. Because it was really dirty. The first time we used TSP, and the second time we used Simple Green (affiliate links). This was by far the least fun part of the whole job.

We did the first scrubbing on Saturday night and the second one Sunday morning, then let it dry for several hours before we started painting.

We attached a handle (from the scrubbing brush we bought for doing the floors. But then that one broke. So we attached another one from a push broom we have) to a roller and….painted:


I can’t overemphasize how easy and fast this was. Pour stain in tray, fill roller, roll on floor. Make sure to leave an escape route. The only thing to watch out for is little specks of stuff finding their way into your wet paint and getting them out before they dry there. I did the first coat, and Dave did the second, and I’d say we spent less than half an hour doing each coat (and this is a big room–around 13 by 24). We set up a fan to help it dry faster, since basements in Georgia aren’t known for their low humidity, and it dried really fast.

And now it looks like this:


From another angle:


(I know the color looks a lot different in those; I think the second one is the better representation. Which is too bad since I like how dark it looks in the first one better). I know it’s not that exciting; that it still looks like a basic basement floor…..but just compare it to the before shot, and you’ll see why I’m so thrilled about it.

So, again, I’m a little unsure about how this is going to hold up long term, particularly since we didn’t get the scary sounding, poisonous etching stuff. But worst case scenario we have to paint the floor again relatively soon, and it turns out we LOVE painting floors, so no big deal.

Turn disgusting, stained basement floors into perfectly respectable and attractive basement floors: it's easy!

Next up: hanging doors! A task that worries us even more than finishing the floor did.

Follow Along with the Basement Makeover:


Intro and Mood Board



Furniture Layout Ideas


Undisgusting Painted Basement Floor — 37 Comments

  1. If this comes up three times, please blame my internet connection. I am no longer on pain meds!

    I used the same stain on our front porch and back steps. It makes such a difference in there! Looking forward to seeing this room come together.

  2. This post totally makes me want to paint our garage floors. They could sure need it. I love how you floor turned out. Such a nice clean slate. The gummy bear lamp is going to look awesome in here #itsallaboutthegummybearlamp

  3. Painting the floor is so awesome. Your arms aren’t sore and you don’t have as much clean up. I think the gray looks very modern. I bet it grows on you once the rest of the room comes together!!

  4. Oh get out of here!!!! This is insane!!! If I showed you a picture of my scary basement laundry room you would laugh!!! I could sooooooooo use this on my floor!!! Thank you for this post pal!! Looks amazing!!! Happy weekend to ya! Nicole xo

  5. It looks so so good! We painted our floors and walls in our current basement and it was such a huge difference. We actually probably “should” re-do it, but it doesn’t look too bad after 4 years. Mostly, we just had a little flaking and some issues where we got some water in the basement. Regardless, it’s a basement.

    Looking forward to following along.

    • It’s held up really well; no scratches or chips at all that we’ve found! I need to do an official update; a few people have asked about it now.

  6. I am wanting to do this in our church basement. we have had leaking so we pulled off walls and floors and just have concrete now. SW wasn’t helpful but lowes was. interesting it all depends on what help you get.

  7. I loved your blog. Very informative and kept me reading until the very end. I’d also like to hear the “official blog” about the etching. Also, are you able to go over the paint with acid stain? If that’s a dumb question please answer anyway.. I’m new at everything house related. Just bought my first home and the only thing I’ve done is fix my disposal and buy some rugs. šŸ™‚ I’ll be reading.

    • Thanks so much, Trish–I keep meaning to think of some other things that need an update post, so it won’t just be, “yep–the basement floors are still good!”….I’ll try to get that done in the next couple of weeks! I don’t think you can do acid stain over paint….my understanding is that the acid needs a clean, porous surface to react with, so it really has to be bare concrete.

  8. Can you tell me how the floors are still doing? I want to do this next weekend and I don’t want to etch either. And I love the photo of the dark grey ….

  9. So we painted the floor in our basement closet! I wish we could have painted the whole thing (although I DO love the floor we ended up with) but you were right – it’s the easiest painting I’ve ever done!

    • I’m not sure if the particular paint we used is okay for driving on….you’d just need to read the label carefully and ask at the store. But I know they sell paint specifically for garage floors, and I imagine the basic process is the same, just maybe with a different product.

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  11. We just pulled up our basement carpet and were prepping to do this. The carpet was 30 years old and most of the glue is hard and in the concrete…. did you try to remove the glue (tsp??) or did you just paint over it??

    • Our basement hadn’t been carpeted, so there was no glue to contend with, thankfully. Good luck with yours–sounds like no fun šŸ™

  12. I love your basement! Iā€™m considering doing this to our basement, but I wanted to know what do you use to clean the floor now that it’s stained.

    • We don’t have to do anything special with it–we have a shark steam mop thing that we use with a little bit of Mrs. Meyer’s mixed in the water–same as all the other floors in the house šŸ™‚

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