Concrete Garden Paths: How to Paint Them

Concrete is a common material used for paths and walkways as it is durable and relatively easy to maintain. The only problem is that it ensures a heavy beating from the weather elements over time. Besides, the paint usually lasts for several months, or up to a year tops. So, if your path is a mere shadow of its former self, it is time to treat it with a fresh coat of paint. Plan each step carefully and examine the surface before grabbing the brush. Apart from painting, there are various other tasks you need to take on to ensure an extra-strong bond and lasting results.

Concrete Garden Paths

1. Prep Phase

Constant maintenance is key to keeping your garden paths in prime condition. Scrubbing, sweeping, mopping, wind, rain, and extreme temperatures – all of these things can leave a mark on the concrete surface.  Also, remember that concrete is a porous material, which means it absorbs moisture. The good news is that new paint technology allows you to apply it easily to the concrete surface and let it adhere tightly. However, you cannot just slap the paint onto the surface.

Before you start anything, prepare the concrete. This is labor-intensive work that can last longer than the actual painting. Firstly, you have to figure out whether the surface was sealed and how much moisture it contains. Pour some water and inspect how it behaves: does it soak into the concrete or does it bead up? If the former is the case, that means there is no sealant to inhibit the application of the paint. Otherwise, the seal coating must be removed: you can do this by grinding it away or stripping it with chemicals.

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As for moisture level, it is possible to gauge it using a piece of aluminum foil. Tape it to the garden path and leave it to sit for 24 hours. Pull it up and check if there is any moisture underneath. A dry foil is a good sign— it indicates that paint will adhere to any bubbling. On the other hand, the presence of moisture could prevent standard floor paint from adhering. A special surface coating is required in this instance.

2. Start With a Clean Slate

Before doing any painting, you should clean the surface thoroughly. Those who have new walkways may employ the good old combo of soap and water, and spread it across with a push broom. When dealing with older and worn-out paths, however, the pressure washer is definitely a better cleaning tool. In both cases, focus on getting rid of accumulated stains and oils.

Likewise, keep your eyes peeled for rough spots and damaged areas. Patch or grind them, while filling the holes and cracks with hydraulic cement. Cover concrete edges of the pathway with a sealant, using a paintbrush. Wider areas can be tackled with a roller. Next, turn your attention to moss, mildew, dirt, and grease. Clean them with trisodium phosphate and etch the surface with commercial acid, following the manufacturer’s instructions closely.

Bear in mind that you can utilize a potent concrete grinder to effectively clean and remove the concrete coating, as well as polish the surface. This will speed up the prep work substantially. Finally, to wrap it up, rinse the path and eliminate traces of the etching solution. Get the primer and apply a thin layer of it, again using the paintbrush and roller depending on the area you are treating. Note that the concrete should dry completely before you apply any paint.

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3. Painting

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It goes without saying that your paint must be designed for exterior concrete surfaces. Latex paint is an affordable option, that is easy to clean and work with. The flip side is that it does not adhere well to surfaces that are in poor condition or moisture-ridden. Elastomeric paint is the exact opposite: it is more expensive, but also more effective in covering flaws and cracks in concrete. Moreover, it works its magic even when put on a surface with a high level of moisture.

Note that these paints are thicker than standard house paints and do not work well with a sprayer. The most common application techniques involve the use of a roller or a brush. They are basically the same as those you used during priming. But, if your pathway is only 30 to 90 days old, you might not be able to use standard paint. Instead, opt for paints for hot concrete. Masonry paints high in alkaline and labeled for freshly poured concrete do the trick just fine.

In any event, shake the paint well, and stir it after opening. Put your angled paintbrush (for the edges) and a long-handled roller (for the rest) to good use. Paint the edges and detailed areas first, which is called “cutting in”. Make sure to mask off the areas that you do not want to be painted. After one coating, you need to wait for 24 hours before proceeding with the next coat. Do check instructions for the exact curing time, as it can vary from paint to paint.

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In general, two or three coats of paint are enough for most pathways. To personalize the path with designs and patterns, you can check out decorative techniques. After all of this is done, you need to wait a bit before using the garden path. Following all the steps, you should be able to steer away from problems like premature peeling and prepare for the season of heavy traffic coming in and out of your house.

4. With Flying Colors

Painting a garden path requires many steps and it usually takes a few days to complete. Although it is rather straightforward, there are many details to pay attention to. It takes a bit of cleaning and painting to breathe new life into your garden path, so take your time when cleaning and preparing the surface. Get familiar with various techniques that can make your work easier. Arm yourself with paintbrushes, buckets, paints, push brooms, and other tools. Done right, painting the path will make it look fresh and beautiful for years to come.

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