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Paint Concrete to Look Like Slate

Paint Concrete

When you live in Arizona, like I do, the harsh sun can cause extensive damage and fading to anything you leave outdoors.  And, in our case, the backyard concrete that had been stamped to look like slate had become quite an eyesore.  Not only was it discolored, there were permanent rings of water damage caused by the overflow from sprinklers and a drip system to our plants.  It was downright ugly…and it was time for a backyard makeover.  Since my contribution was the painting, I thought I’d share with you How to Paint Concrete to Look Like Slate.

The Before & After pictures of this backyard project are quite drastic, because as you will see, we gave up on our grass and decided to put in artificial turf.  (Trust me, we’d rather have the real thing, too.  But unless you’ve lived in Arizona, you could never, ever understand how tough it is to grow, reseed, and keep grass alive.)  For the purposes of this blog, however, we are just focusing on the concrete.  And here are a couple of shots of how bad it looked in the beginning.

Paint Concrete

Paint Concrete

The first thing I did was power wash all the concrete so that I’d start with a clean slate.  Errr, make that clean faux slate, if you’ll pardon my pun.  In order to make it look like real slate, I couldn’t just buy a solid paint color and roll it on.  In nature, nothing is ever a single flat color.  So, for my faux slate, I actually combine three different paint colors.  I start with a base coat of Valspar’s DuraMax exterior paint.  (Notice the label says, “Maximum Weather Protection.”  It’s supposed to be mold, mildew, and algae resistant, so I figured it should be good enough to cover these nasty water stains.)

Paint Concrete

Paint Concrete

Unfortunately, the name of the base color is not printed on the can, but it’s kind of a generic medium brown color.  The other two colors are Sherwin William’s “Dying Ember,” which has a little red in it, and Valspar’s “Burnt Tile,” which is the darker brown.  You’ll notice I bought them in sample size, because believe it or not, that’s all you’ll need.  A little goes a very long way.  Here’s what it looked like with just the base color on:

Paint Concrete

At this point, I was already feeling the instant gratification.  What a relief to no longer see all the faded spots and water stains!  But, like I said, in nature, there are no flat colors, so it was time to layer on a couple of other shades on top of this.  I took a damp sponge and put just a tiny bit of the reddish paint on it, then quickly rubbed it all over a small section of the concrete.

Paint Concrete

Paint Concrete

You can see just how damp my sponge is because the paint is very lightly rubbing on to the concrete.  You want it to go into the grooves and be heavier in some spots than others.  Remember, you’re trying to mimic nature.  I should also mention that I, personally, prefer not to use gloves, because I feel I have better control.  I like knowing how damp my sponge is, getting a sense of when I should dip it into the water.  If you don’t want to get your hands dirty, by all means, wear gloves.

Paint Concrete

Paint Concrete

With the red layer still wet, I then dip the same sponge into the dark brown paint, and go over the same area. Now there’s glimpses of red and dark brown coming through in different areas.

Paint Concrete

Once satisfied with how I painted the outdoor concrete, I let it dry overnight, and then went back the following morning and rolled a clear, high gloss sealer over the whole thing.  There are a couple of brands you can use, I just happened to already have Quikrete left over from another project.  It goes on a milky white, but dries clear.

Paint Concrete

Paint Concrete

For added umph, I even spruced up the red curbing, rolling a layer of red concrete paint on it, while being careful not to get paint on the new artificial turf.

Paint Concrete

Paint Concrete

All told, this back yard project took me three days, but the end result is a beautiful faux slate that I’m more than happy with.  I hope you were able to pick up a few helpful tips on How to Paint Concrete to look like Slate, and that you are inspired to take on an outdoor project of your own.  Thanks for checking out my blog!

Paint Concrete

Paint Concrete

If you liked this tutorial, you may also like my Poolside Towel Rack Blog.

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Painting children's rooms, exterior murals, exterior paint, faux finishes, interior murals, canvases, holiday canvases, wooden plaques, beds, cabinets, dressers, furniture, party decorations, props, and other DIY crafts!