Why You Shouldn’t Paint Your Refinished Basement Walls

Painting supplies to paint walls in a house

Painting your basement walls is one of the quickest ways to make the space more inviting. And because it’s a room separate from the rest of the house, you have a lot of freedom to experiment with bold colors or exciting textures without worrying about design flow.

But if your home’s basement walls are concrete, brick, or block, you can’t just paint them like you did your upstairs finished walls. Let’s look at why painting an unfinished basement wall can be tricky and what you should do before you start painting.

Unique Challenges When Painting Basement Walls

Most foundation walls allow substantial moisture and humidity to seep into your basement. Many standard household paints are not formulated to hold back hydrostatic pressure, which is caused by the downward and outward pressure caused by standing water against any surface that blocks it — in this case, your basement walls.

Many people assume concrete, block, and brick are resistant to water intrusion, but they aren’t nearly as impenetrable as they appear. The bottom line? Paint is mold food. And while concrete is typically adverse to mold, it’s an entirely different story when used in damp basements.

How To Paint Basement Walls

To make the process go as quickly and smoothly as possible, assemble all the tools you need before you begin:

  • Safety gear, including gloves, masks, and safety glasses
  • One or two-wire brushes
  • Chisel
  • Small sledgehammer
  • Trowel
  • Hydraulic cement
  • Solution of muriatic acid and water
  • Waterproofing primer and paint
  • Paint rollers and brushes
  • Paper towels and rags
  • Vacuum

Step 1: Inspect walls

Look for water damage, moisture, leaks, and mold. If you discover one or more of these conditions, you might want to consider hiring a professional to get rid of the problem and also prevent it from recurring.

Step 2: Clean the walls

Begin by using the wire brushes to remove any loose debris. Once finished, use a wet paper towel to take off any remaining dirt and dust and vacuum up the debris so it doesn’t blow onto your fresh paint.

Next, use the muriatic acid/water mix to remove any efflorescence from the walls. Just be sure to wear your safety gear to prevent the chemical from harming your eyes or skin.

Step 3: Fix cracks

If there are cracks between the concrete or bricks, they need to be closed before painting to prevent mold growth.

  • Use the chisel and sledgehammer to make the inside of any crack wider than its outside. This way, when you put in the patching cement, it will stay in place.
  • Vacuum any dust and use a moist paper towel or rag to wet down the area.
  • While the wall is still damp, apply the patching cement with the trowel.

Be sure to seal gaps at the base of the wall, so moisture can’t make its way into the walls from there.

Step 4: Apply waterproofing paint

Depending on the condition of the walls and the paint you select, you might need to apply waterproof primer before painting. If you choose a lighter neutral color paint, primer also helps mask the concrete or brick and keeps it from showing.

Step 5: Paint the walls

Once the primer dries, it’s time to apply the paint. Most experts recommend oil-based or latex paint as they help prevent mold growth. If you live in an older home, it could be helpful to speak to a professional basement repair and waterproofing contractor who can go over other available options, including additional waterproofing, before you begin.

Basement Waterproofing for Perfect Painting Results

Painting your basement walls brightens and enlivens the space and can even increase your home’s value. Before you dive in, it’s a good idea to inspect each wall for water and mold issues that could significantly affect the success of your project.

The Foundation Specialists’ basement repair and waterproofing services are designed to make your home stronger than the day it was built! Contact us online today or call us at 844-468-4674 to learn more about how we can help ensure your finished walls are as beautiful as you imagined they would be.

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