DIY: Painting Concrete in the Cellar

We’re not calling it a craft room anymore, ok? My project in the cellar has made the leap to Art Lab.

Observe the before:


So sad and creepy.

and the now the after:


Bright and white!

Way too cool for a hokey “craft room” title right? There’s going to be some science happening in here. Serious work. It’s a lab.

So far, this whole project has been about elements that intimidate me so I procrastinate on starting them. Ultimately, I dive in with a certain disregard for “the right way” of doing things and am extremely pleased with the results. It was like that with the card catalog and it’s now like that with painting the walls and floor.

Per usual, I did a lot of online research about how to tackle the surfaces in this room. I knew we weren’t going to finish the walls or ceiling since we’d lose a lot of headroom and it was more¬†money than we were willing to put in. I toyed with the idea of installing flooring, but there was no guarantee that any option would adhere well (concrete conducts moisture and cold which can cause some adhesives to fail) and I didn’t like the idea of losing everything if the cellar ever flooded.

I quickly decided to throw some paint at the problem and hope for the best. There is a lot of information online about painting concrete and most of them involve a TON of prep work. I think Jessie will be proud to know that I ignored a lot of it for the sake of getting the damn project done.

I did wipe down the walls and floor with warm water and Dirtex (most would recommend Diretex’s aggressive brother TSP, but I use what I have on hand). I did scrape the floor and vaccuum it twice to try and remove the loose paint. However, I did not sand the walls, I did not get every bit of paint, glue residue, and/or dust off of the floor, I did not level out the concrete or patch any holes.


One coat on the walls, floor scraped

I also didn’t take that many process shots but here are the details. I used about a gallon and a half of Sherwin Williams Porch and Floor Enamel (it’s still latex) in the off-the-shelf white. I had read some good reviews of this paint in similar applications but SW’s 40% off sale the other weekend was the real incentive. I thought it covered really well and the store assured me I could use it without primer. I used a 2″ angled trim brush to cut in the edges and fill in deep holes. The rest was done with a 1/2″ roller to really get in all of the nooks and crannies. If you’re doing a similar project, be aware that the thicker roller and paint tended to splatter a lot more than I was used to. I also wore a respirator (Breaking Bad style) since this stuff stinks.

What I did do is get two coats of paint on this beast and can now move onto more fun things like designing a work table (big plans!) and figuring out furniture placement. Yes!


So, so much better.

I think my proudest achievement is that I didn’t paint myself into a corner with the floor. There was serious potential for that. I’m going to let the paint cure for a week before I put anything on it because the internet told me to. Will it scratch up and look terrible? Will the paint not bond to the concrete and flake up in a couple of weeks? Will the dropping temperatures keep it from drying properly? Maybe. That’s ok though. At least I got started and for now, I’m pretty damn excited about moving to the next step. Let’s just soak in the blank canvas shall we?

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