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Can You Paint Over Concrete Sealer? (Explained)

A concrete sealer is a protective barrier that protects the concrete underneath from damage and corrosion caused by temperature change and accidents. It helps to keep moisture, chlorides, and stains at bay so that none of these can cause any harm to the concrete.

While the concrete sealer does a wonderful job in protecting the concrete, it can become monotonous to look at the dull sealer all the time. So you might be wondering if there’s a way to brighten up its appearance by painting over it.

Can you paint over a concrete sealer?

You can paint over a concrete sealer but you must do some prep work before that. The only way to apply paint over a concrete sealer is by sanding the surface first so that it is ready to take in all the paint. If you don’t follow this, your paint won’t stick to the sealed concrete.

Let’s find out if you can paint over the following concrete sealers.

Bostik concrete sealer:

Bostik sealers are water-based but water-resistant and absolutely despise painting. If you apply paint over the Bostik concrete sealer it won’t stick and create a powdery texture instead.

Acrylic concrete sealer:

Some acrylic sealers are water-based but they act weird around water and moisture. It’s hard to make an acrylic sealer sit over concrete that has any moisture to it. Therefore, you can’t paint over an acrylic concrete sealer.

Penetrating concrete sealer:

You can’t paint over a penetrating concrete sealer. Penetrating sealers are designed to penetrate the concrete in all its gaps and pores. It will resist all types of paint so you can’t paint over it.

Solvent-based concrete sealer:

Solvent-based concrete sealers are great for giving a strong layer of protection over the concrete. But just like the other sealers, a solvent-based sealer doesn’t let the paint stick onto it either.

Will paint stick to sealed concrete? What happens when you paint over concrete sealer?

Paint will not stick to sealed concrete. When you apply paint over sealed concrete, it will repel the paint.

Paint won’t adhere:

A concrete sealer is a natural repeller. It is a protective barrier that secures the concrete from moisture, temperature, and other harmful intrusions. It’s in the nature of the concrete sealer to repel things like paint so it’s only natural that you can’t paint directly over the concrete sealer.

Painting can alter the texture:

Most concrete sealers will resist pain when you put the paint directly over them. Some sealers try to bond with the paint but fail and rather create a powdery element by altering the texture.

Won’t look good:

Since the sealer can’t take the paint and repel it instead, trying to apply the paint can make the concrete look ugly. The best way to prepare before painting is by sanding and priming the surface.

As you sand the sealer, it gives the paint something to grab onto and stick to the surface. Also, priming gives the surface a smooth touch that works as a great undercoat for the paint.

Should I seal concrete before painting?

Concrete sealers are supposed to protect the concrete from damage by repelling moisture and chlorides. It’s not an ideal base for any paint since it is likely to repel the paint as well. Hence you should not seal concrete if you have any plans to paint the concrete in the future.

If you want to use a concrete sealer, do it after painting the concrete. Or you can simply tint the concrete sealer. For a smooth painting experience, you need a clean surface. So you should not seal the concrete but clean it instead. 

Clean the surface thoroughly with a good quality concrete cleaning solution and then apply the primer before you start putting paint over it.

What kind of paint do you use on already sealed concrete?

There are two types of paint that you should use on already sealed concrete – epoxy concrete paint and acrylic latex concrete paint.

Epoxy concrete paint is more durable than the latter one but it is also expensive and requires a two-step process. The process includes resin and hardener. Epoxy has a glossy finish and is quite resistant to weather. It can also be cleaned frequently without damaging the top layer.

Acrylic is a comfortable paint to use over sealed concrete. It is easy to apply and also quite inexpensive. It is not as hard-wearing as epoxy but still protects from UV damage. Also, the paint helps to seal cracks and conceal imperfections. But it can’t be washed frequently.

How long after sealing concrete can you paint it?

The concrete sealer has to be fully dry before you paint it. Also, you need to strip some parts of the sealer before you apply the paint, or else the paint won’t stick. And you can’t abrade or sand an undried sealer.

You have to wait for at least 30 days starting from the day of sealing the concrete before you can perform any other tasks regarding the painting. Once the sealer dries, you can strip some parts of it, sand it down, prime it, and then apply the paint in layers.

How to paint over sealed concrete?

Painting over sealed concrete is not an easy job, hence it is not advised to paint directly over the sealer. You should follow some mandatory steps to make the paint stick to the surface.

Make sure that the concrete sealer is fully dry:

The first and foremost thing to do before you paint over a sealed concrete is to ensure that the sealer is fully dry. If it is not properly dry, the paint won’t stick. The wet sealer and paint will create a mess.

To make sure that the sealer is completely dry, use a blunt object and lightly tap the surface to check for dents. If there’s a dent, it is not dry yet. Next, you can do a water test by putting a few drops of water over the surface.

The water is supposed to stay over a dry sealer since it is waterproof. If the water sinks into the coating instead, it means the sealer hasn’t fully dried. You should wait at least 30 days after the application of the concrete sealer to let it dry completely.

Remove or abrade the top part of the concrete sealer:

It may sound funny to wait for the sealer to dry since you need to remove or abrade it anyway to make the paint stick. But if you don’t wait for it to dry, you won’t be able to abrade it at all. So in this step, you will remove or abrade the concrete sealer.

To remove the sealer completely, you will have to use a strong paint stripper. But these strippers are chemically driven and harmful for the eyes, lungs, and skin. So it is not advised to try this out and if you must, you need to be very careful and take proper precautions.

It is okay to just strip some parts of the sealer for the paint to have some ridges and lines to stick onto. You can abrade the sealer by using 150-grit sandpaper.

Sand and prime the surface:

Now it’s time to sand the surface so you can put the primer. Sanding the abraded surface will smoothen out the unevenness and give you a good top part to apply the primer. You can use 220-grit sandpaper to sand the surface.

Next, you need to clean the surface and get rid of any dust, dirt, and debris so you can put the primer over a clean area. You can wash the surface with any good-quality concrete cleaning solution. Also, vacuum the area to remove residues from the sanding.

Now you should apply at least two layers of a primer used for concrete to seal any cracks or gaps. Make sure that you dry the first layer before applying the second coating of the primer.

Apply the paint over the primed surface:

As the primer dries, the surface is now ready for the paint. Apply no more than three coatings of paint. Make sure to dry each layer before applying the next one. You can also lightly wipe each layer with fine-grit sandpaper for better adhesion.

Seal the paint if needed and leave to dry:

If you want to ensure better protection to the painted layer, you can go for a good quality paint sealer. But apply the sealer only after the paint dries completely. It is better to leave the paint dry for at least three days before heavy and regular use.

Final Thoughts

You can paint over a concrete sealer but you can’t put paint directly over the sealer. You need to abrade, sand, and prime the surface first before applying any paint. Concrete sealer is a natural moisture repellent so you can’t paint over it as the paint will not adhere to it properly.