Is Oil Paint Good on Concrete?

Oil-based paints aren’t ideal on concrete. However, they are sometimes used on concrete that has been poured over a vapor barrier as this type of concrete has low humidity levels.

Can oil-based paints be used on concrete? We hear this question all the time. But what paint can be used on concrete if this isn’t the first choice? Let’s find out below.

Concrete is porous and absorbs water. It can have a smooth or an unfinished surface. Concrete can be indoors or outdoors. Finally, concrete can be made with or without a vapor barrier.

Before we can understand how oil-based paints react on concrete we need to understand our floors first.

Smooth concrete floors

Smooth surfaces aren’t as ‘thirsty’ as glossy finished concrete surfaces. These are the easiest to paint with oil-based paint on. At the same time, these surfaces still require some type of preparation. Oil-based paints aren’t made for smooth concrete surfaces without a vapor barrier.

Porous or damaged concrete floors

Porous concrete surfaces absorb the most moisture and are the least adhesive. This makes them the least likely to be suitable for oil-based paints, or any other paints for this reason. Porous, uneven, or damaged concrete floors only qualify for concrete stain.

Concrete walls

Oil-based paints can sometimes be suitable for concrete walls. However, latex paints are superior in this case.

Are oil paints good on concrete?

Oil-based paints aren’t made for concrete. These paints don’t stick well to concrete and they start to peal needing frequent paint repair or complete concrete floor repainting.

Acrylic paints aren’t made for concrete. They are too thin for concrete floors and concrete patios or driveways that see foot traffic. Acrylic paint can sometimes be used on concrete walls.

Oil-based paints can’t be used on concrete floors. These paints hold up poorly on concrete, similar to acrylic paints. 2-part epoxy paints are ideal for concrete floors, albeit at a higher price.

Oil doesn’t mix with water

Oil doesn’t mix well with water. Concrete contains water and this might not make it an adhesive surface for oil-based paints. Some people decide to use oil-based paint on concrete, but with poor results in durability.

Acrylic paints aren’t better either, especially on concrete floors such as those in the garage where you plan to drive on.

Epoxy paints are the better choice on concrete floors. Of course, these floors still need to be made with a vapor barrier or prepared with an epoxy vapor primer and a second primer. Even epoxy paint applied on concrete without a vapor primer will start to peel within a year.

Oil-based paints are hard to fix and repair

Let’s say you find a decent oil-based paint to use on concrete, bricks, rocks, and other similar surfaces. What happens when it peals? You need to use a spirit-based cleaner to have your surface ready again. This is very time-consuming.

How long does it take for oil pants to dry on concrete?

Oil-based paints take longer to dry. Satin finish and eggshell finish take the longest to dry. It takes between 1 and 5 days for oil-based paints to dry and be safe to walk or drive on.

What happens when you use oil-based paints on concrete?

When you first apply concrete paint on concrete floors you might think the job is done. This isn’t the case. Here’s what happens.

  • It covers the surface evenly (initially)

Oil-based paints have a thick texture, even when applied in thin coats. This initially leads many to believe the paint is good on concrete. The even-looking covering makes you think the paint will last.

  • It’s easy to clean

Oil-based paints are also easy to clean. You might use a mop on the floor thinking the paint is a great cheap solution to use on concrete floors.

  • The paint starts to crack

The paint eventually starts to crack. If the floor is directly walked on (no carpets) or driven on (in garage floors) it starts to crack within 12 months. This makes oil-based paints inefficient compared to elastomeric paints that expand and contract with concrete temperature changes.

So which paint should you use on concrete floors?

Expoxy resin paint is ideal on concrete. It provides the best coverage and the highest durability. Epoxy creates a self-leveling surface on concrete which also means it’s applied the easiest. It lasts longer than oil-based paints and it covers the surface better than acrylic-based paints when applied on concrete.

The durability of epoxy paint is impressive on concrete. This is why it’s often used on garage floors where it is driven on.


What paint sticks best to concrete?

Epoxy resin paint sticks best to concrete. Some types of concrete floors need a primer before application. However, epoxy resin paint will unstick or crack when applied on concrete without a vapor barrier which tends to transmit moisture to the surface.

Can you use latex paint on concrete?

Latex paint is ideal on concrete floors and walls inside of the house. This type of paint only lasts long when it doesn’t have to deal with heavy traffic. Epoxy resin paint is the better choice for outdoor concrete floors.

Is oil-based paint good for outdoor use?

Oil-based paints can be used on most surfaces outdoors. The condition is for these surfaces is to be dry and not transmit or absorb water such as concrete without a vapor barrier.

Do you need special paint concrete floors?

You need special paint for concrete floors due to heavy traffic. The more you walk on concrete floors the more dedicated the paint has to be. Latex paint can be used on concrete floors if they are sparingly used, such as floors in bedrooms or dress rooms.

Epoxy paint is the ideal special concrete paint that lasts long even under high traffic use. This type of paint costs more than acrylic, latex, and polyurethane concrete paint.