How to Paint Exterior Concrete Steps and Use a Sealer

Updated April 17, 2017

Painting concrete steps is a way to add colour and improve curb appeal. Concrete is a porous material and stains easily. Sealing concrete helps protect it from damage caused by moisture, oils, stains and chemicals. Concrete sealers are nonporous, and they make cleaning up spills and stains easy. Although this project is time-consuming, the results can be well worth the effort. Allow newly poured concrete to cure for at least 90 days before applying sealer.

Check the weather forecast. Start the project only if there will be no precipitation for at least four days.

Clean the concrete with soap and water. For stubborn stains, dirt or grease, mix 1/2 cup of trisodium phosphate (TSP) to 2 gallons of warm water. Wear rubber gloves and eye protection when using TSP. Dip brush into water, and scrub dirty area with back-and-forth and circular motion until all the soiled concrete is clean.

Rinse thoroughly with garden hose. Keep TSP solution away from foliage and plants. If any of the rinse solution gets into plants, continue rinsing for a few moments to make sure the TSP is thoroughly diluted.

Allow concrete to dry thoroughly.

Stir the sealer until mixed thoroughly using a paint stirrer. Pull any thickened materials up from the bottom of the can where the sealer may have settled.

Apply the primer/sealer with a paintbrush or roller. Pour some of the primer/sealer into the roller tray. Pick up the material onto the roller or paintbrush by dipping it into the roller tray. With firm pressure, apply the sealer to the concrete, covering all pits and spreading it evenly.

Allow to dry thoroughly. It will dry in two to four hours at 23.9 degrees C. Mix the sealer again and repeat applying the sealer, this time rolling it on in the opposite direction. Allow the second coat to dry.

Apply the concrete paint with a brush or roller with enough pressure to get even coverage. Allow paint to dry thoroughly before allowing traffic on it.


Do not use solvents to clean concrete surfaces. TSP can burn unprotected skin and cause eye damage. Dress appropriately when using. The greatest cause of paint failure is insufficient or incomplete surface preparation.

Things You'll Need

  • Soap
  • Trisodium phosphate (TSP), optional
  • Rubber gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Scrub brush
  • Garden hose
  • Paintbrush
  • Paint roller
  • Roller pan
  • Paint stirrer
  • Concrete primer/sealer
  • Acrylic latex concrete paint
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