5 Steps to Painted Basement Walls

Lead Image
  • 4-8 hours
  • Beginner
  • 0-180
What You'll Need
Scraper or wire brush
Paint brush or spray gun
White vinegar
Baking soda
Sand blaster or disc grinder
TSP mixture

Painting basement walls can go a long way to spruce up a subterranean space suffering from limited natural light. With a little paint and imagination, a neglected space can be transformed into an office, playroom, studio, gym, or media center.

Painting basement walls is very practical because it protects against moisture, extending the life of your home. Painting basement walls is a quick and easy project; however, painting basements presents some challenges that other spaces do not. Here are a few pointers to get your project off to a good start and provide fabulous results.

Step 1 - Remove the Previous Paint

scrapers laying side by side

Basement walls are actually part of your home’s foundation. They breathe and produce condensation unlike other walls in your home. This unique trait is important because it affects how the paint adheres to the wall. Your basement wall is probably concrete and since concrete paint will only stick to a porous surface, you’ll want to remove the prior layer of paint if you have one. If the home is old, consider running a lead test before beginning removal and have a professional handle the task if the lead test is positive.

Use a scraper or wire brush to remove the old paint. Once all the paint is off the wall, clean it with white vinegar and then with a mixture of one cup baking soda per gallon of water to neutralize.

Step 2 - Do Away With Faulty Material

Building materials erode over time. When that happens, concrete crumbles. Crumbling may go unnoticed. Use a sand blaster or disc grinder to smooth out the rough surface of the wall to reveal loose materials.

Before painting, remove deteriorated materials and patch the area with mortar or cement. Once all repairs have been made, clean the walls with a TSP mixture.

Step 3 - Evaluate Mildew and Mold

Not only are these two substances potentially dangerous to your health, but they also weaken the structural integrity of the basement. There are plenty of chemicals on the market that can kill both of these organic troublemakers. Look for any signs of mold or mildew and treat if necessary.

Step 4 - Prime the Basement Walls

Primer ensures that paint stays on the wall. Cement absorbs paint through its porous surface. Primer floods the surface and prevents the subsequent layers of paint from being absorbed. It also adds to the paint's waterproofing capability. Applying primer is a key step to the success of your basement painting project.

Step 5 - Apply Paint

a paint roller and paint brush in a tray of white paint

Apply the paint with brushes, rollers, or spray guns. A paint sprayer is by far the fastest method, but some areas are sure to be missed. Rollers present the same dilemma. As you roll the paint on a textured surface, you can create a lot of splatter. Paint brushes do the job right on the first attempt and are the best option for the primer layer. To apply the paint once the primer is dry you can use any option since your primer will create an accepting surface. Apply one to two layers of paint and dry thoroughly between applications.