Home Finishing and Renovation – Tips on How to Properly Paint Your Basement

Home Finishing and Renovation - Tips on How to Properly Paint Your Basement

We at Pizzazz Painting have been beautifying homes and businesses in South Jersey for over 20 years. We’ve seen our share of basement renovations and thought we’d share our tips and techniques for painting a basement.

Basements pose special concerns in terms of temperature, humidity, actual moisture, and wall composition. We partnered with our friends at Dry Basement Solutions to come up with the following tips on how to properly paint a basement.

Painting Wet Basements

You can’t. No paint of any kind will stick and stay to wet or moist walls or even in a space where the humidity is too high, as your basement’s lower temperature will cause that moisture in the air to condense on the walls.

If you have a moisture problem in your basement and you plan on painting it, you must fix the moisture problem first. There are a number of ways to deal with excess moisture in the basement, among them:

  • Installing a dehumidifier
  • Installing a sump pump
  • Installing french drains
  • Regrading your yard so it slopes away from the house
  • Making sure all at grade or below grade windows and doors are sealed against moisture
  • Repairing your foundation, if necessary

Before you ask, Hey, what about that waterproofing paint? Forget about it. It does not work.

Painting Unfinished Basements

Before painting, be sure to remediate any moisture problem you have. This is essential if you have any hope of the paint job lasting.
If there is flaking or peeling paint from a previous paint job, that must be removed. Using a scraper, scrape those sections and sand with high grit sandpaper to smooth any rough areas. Then clean the walls and floors thoroughly and let dry before painting.

Most foundations are concrete block or poured concrete. Be sure to purchase paint that is made for concrete, and following the manufacturer’s instructions, roll it on with a ¼” knap rollercover rather than ⅜” – this will get into the small crevices.

We always cut in first (i.e., use a high-quality paint brush to paint around trim and fixtures) and then roll out the large areas. Be sure there is adequate ventilation for yourself, and for the paint! You should not have to apply a second coat but if you want to, be sure to wait until the first coat cures (follow the directions).

Painting a Basement Floor

If you plan on painting the floor, be sure to use a product specifically made for poured concrete and buy a product that will add some texture to the floor so that you won’t slip when you walk on it.

Prepping a basement floor for paint can be a challenge especially if the floor has cracks. There are products that promise to repair cracked concrete but in our experience, inevitably the crack will reappear unless the reason for the crack was remediated. Cracks often appear due to moisture, so if you remediated any moisture problem you were having, there is a good chance of the crack repair holding up.

An alternative to floor paint is epoxy, and this too can be textured for safety. Any big box home store will have products you can browse. Be sure to read the instructions thoroughly to ensure that the product you select is right for the ways you will use your basement.

Painting Finished Basements

It is even more crucial that you remediate any moisture issues if you plan to turn your basement into a livable space. If moisture enters a finished area and drywall and carpeting get wet, this encourages the growth of toxic mold and those materials will need to be torn out and discarded. Since you don’t want to waste time and money finishing a space just to demolish it when moisture ruins it, get on that moisture remediation plan!

A basement can be painted like any above-grade space once it is finished with drywall or paneling. Again, we cut in first, roll out second. Make sure the area is well ventilated while painting and while allowing the paint to dry.

We recommend using oil paint rather than latex in a basement. Why? We have found it is more durable over time in a basement. We also recommend selecting a shade of paint that will help reflect what light enters the space to avoid a dark, dungeon-like atmosphere – unless you want that effect, for example, if you are building a home theater in your basement.

We wish you the best of luck in painting your basement!



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