How to Paint Cinder Blocks

Painting cinder blocks can completely transform the look of a basement, garage, or any room with exposed brick. With a fresh coat of paint, drab cinder blocks become colorful, attractive, and inviting. While the project requires some preparatory work, painting cinder block walls is an achievable DIY task. Follow these steps for professional-looking results.

Choose the Right Paint

The type of paint you use is crucial for success when painting cinder blocks. The porous surface and texture of concrete block walls call for specialty paints that can adhere properly.

Avoid standard wall paints – Flat or satin latex wall paints will not adhere well and will peel quickly. The chalky, powdery nature of the blocks requires paint with superior bonding abilities.

Use masonry paint – Masonry, elastomeric, or other thick acrylic paints are formulated for textured and mineral-based surfaces like stucco, brick, and concrete. The elasticity allows the paint to move with the blocks rather than peel.

Consider specialty epoxy paint – For indoor concrete block walls, two-part epoxy paint provides the most durable and long-lasting finish. The high-build formula fills pores and hides imperfections.

Opt for exterior masonry paint for outdoor walls – Exterior paint contains UV inhibitors and weather-resistant resins. Always use exterior paints if the cinder blocks walls are outside.

Prepare the Surface Properly

Taking time to prepare the cinder blocks correctly will ensure the paint adheres tightly. Proper prep also enhances the finished look.

Clean thoroughly – Use a stiff brush and concrete degreaser to remove dirt, efflorescence, oil, soot, and other contaminants. Rinse thoroughly.

Repair cracks and holes – Use hydraulic cement or concrete patch compound to fill any cracks or broken spots on the blocks. Smooth the patches flush.

Level uneven joints – Imperfect mortar joints become obvious after painting. Fill dips or gaps in the joints with quick-setting cement for an even finish.

Sand rough areas – Smooth down any bumps on the blocks with 100-120 grit sandpaper. Feather out edges for a seamless appearance.

Prime all surfaces – Priming ensures topcoat adhesion and provides extra moisture blocking on cinder blocks. Use quality masonry primer.

Pick Your Paint Sheen

The right sheen plays an important role in your cinder block paint job. Here are the most common options:

  • Flat – Excellent hiding power on uneven blocks but prone to scuffing.
  • Satin – Durable with a faint sheen, easy to clean. A good middle-ground.
  • Semi-Gloss – Very tough and washable but shows imperfections. Best for high-traffic areas.
  • Gloss – Most durable and stain-resistant but magnifies flaws. Best for indoor epoxy paints.

Typically, flat or satin finishes look best on large expanses of cinder block walls. Semi-gloss is a wise choice for basement floors or behind workbenches.

Apply Paint Correctly

With prep work complete, the actual painting process is straightforward. Proper techniques help the paint adhere tightly for long-lasting results:

  • Use a quality nylon or polyester bristle brush for best coverage. Avoid foam rollers which don’t penetrate the blocks fully.
  • Maintain a wet edge and paint to natural stopping points to prevent lap marks as you go.
  • Add paint gradually to avoid excessive absorption on the first coat. cinder blocks drink up paint.
  • Apply two coats allowing proper drying time between coats for an opaque, cohesive film finish.
  • Work methodically and systematically to ensure all sides of blocks are fully coated. Pay special attention to mortar joints.
  • Paint a test patch to ensure proper adhesion before committing to the entire job.

Maintain Painted Cinder Block Walls

Once painted, treat the cinder block walls carefully to keep them looking fresh:

  • Allow new paint to cure fully before cleaning – up to 30 days. Use gentlest methods to avoid damaging the paint film.
  • Hand wipe walls periodically with mild detergent and water to remove dust and dirt. Avoid abrasive scouring pads.
  • Touch up scrapes or damaged areas immediately to prevent moisture intrusion and additional peeling.
  • Repaint entire wall when touchups become too noticeable. Scuff sand glossy areas to ensure adhesion.

With the right preparations and painting technique, cinder block walls can be transformed into an asset. The freshly painted surface brings color to liven up any dreary space. Just be diligent to use specialty masonry paints and maintain the finish. Then you’ll enjoy the updated look for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions About Painting Cinder Blocks

Can I use regular interior wall paint on cinder blocks?

No, regular wall paint does not have the adhesion properties needed for porous cinder block surfaces. Special masonry paint or epoxy paint is specially formulated to bond to textured, mineral-based materials.

What type of primer should I use?

Look for primers made specifically for masonry and concrete. These penetrate and seal concrete blocks to create a proper foundation for the topcoat.

How long does it take for masonry paint to cure?

Most masonry paints take 7-14 days to fully cure and achieve maximum durability. Avoid cleaning or treatments during this period.

Should I dampen the cinder blocks before painting?

No. In fact, paint adheres much better to dry block walls. Damp surfaces prevent proper paint bonding.

Can I paint over badly effloresced cinder blocks?

You’ll get longer lasting results if you first treat the efflorescence before painting. This prevents the salts from pushing through the new paint film.

How do I paint cinder block basement walls to prevent moisture problems?

Look for basement-specific masonry paints containing fungicides and vapor barriers. Also, maintain proper ventilation to avoid condensation issues.


Painting rough, porous cinder block walls not only improves aesthetics but also makes the space feel clean and polished. With the right masonry paint and proper preparation, you can transform the look and feel of your cinder block basement, office, or interior space. Use high quality specialty paint, prep the blocks thoroughly, and apply two coats for outstanding results. Your freshly painted cinder block walls will look attractive and well-cared for.