Buying Guide

Paints and Stains for Your Concrete, Basement and Garage Floor

Epoxy vs. Paint vs. Stain

Unlike paint and stain used indoors, products for outdoor application are made to withstand more extreme temperatures and harsher wear. 

Tip: Applying floor paint and stain is fairly easy but don’t forget about drying time, especially in garages. Make sure you have all the materials necessary before you start, and plan to park your car outside for at least a few days. 


Epoxy is a durable, plastic-like paint that is most effective when used on garage floors. It is available as a one- or two-part mixture and consists of a water-based coating that utilizes a chemical reaction to strengthen it. 

Epoxy is tougher than other paints and stains and is designed to withstand what is known as hot-tire pickup. As cars drive on hot streets during the summer, much of that heat is absorbed by tires. When you return home and park in the garage, that intense heat sears your garage floor, ultimately causing paint to peel or stain to disintegrate.

Epoxy does the best job of remaining intact after exposure to hot tires.

Epoxy is available in multiple colors.

One-part epoxy is premixed.

Two-part epoxy must be mixed together with a stick or drill mixer and must be applied within four to six hours of mixing to avoid drying.

It may be solvent-based, water-based or 100 percent solid.

Water-based epoxy doesn’t emit hazardous fumes and is easiest to apply.

Epoxy cannot be applied to floors that consistently hold moisture, as water will interfere with the bonding process.

Floor paints

Paint used on floors, whether they are wood or concrete, are generally oil- or latex-based paints. 

Latex is the most commonly used type of paint. It adheres well to different surfaces, is easy to apply and lets water vapor escape to prevent delamination, or the separation of paint layers. Spilled latex paint can be easily cleaned up with water. 

Oil-based paints provide a hard, shiny finish. Instead of water, mineral spirits are used for cleanup.

May not withstand hot tires as well as epoxy.

Latex paints are best for garages, while oil-based paints are ideal for porches and patios.

Acrylic latex paints are durable and resist water and mildew.

Outdoor floor paint is often referred to as “porch and floor paint.”

Floor stains

Concrete and floor stains are often easier to apply than paints, although they will also require more frequent reapplication. 

Solvent-based stains are tough and durable while waterborne acrylic stains don’t create fumes. 

Acid stain is one type of stain that can be used to both protect and add a unique appearance to concrete. Rather than coating concrete like paint, acid stain causes a chemical reaction that alters the floor’s color and appearance.

Require more frequent reapplication.

Concrete stains provide a pigmented, marbled appearance.

Wood stains are available in a range of hues.

Look for water-repellant stains to extend floor life.

Protect acid stain with a sealer or wax to ensure longevity.

Application & Tips

After being poured, it may take up to 90 days until concrete is ready to be painted or stained. Prior to applying paint or stain to any pre-existing surface, make sure it’s completely clean by getting rid of as much oil, dirt and grease as possible. If you’re applying a stain, remove previous coats of paint or sealer.

Tip: Use tape and tarps to protect walls, doors and other areas you want to keep clean while you paint.

After floor paint or stain has been applied, drying time will vary according to temperature and humidity. Cooler temperatures and higher humidity levels will require longer drying time.

Apply when temps are between 50°F and 90°F (consult manufacturer’s instructions for precise parameters).

Intermix multiple containers of the same paint to ensure uniformity. If a second coat is needed, apply it in the opposite direction from the first.

Add a coat of wax on top of epoxy to make floors easier to clean.

Painted surfaces may be slippery, especially when they’re wet. Applying a nonskid additive to your newly painted floor will help you avoid accidents when it’s raining or snowing.

If you don’t want to spend time cleaning and applying paint or stain to an outdoor floor, you may want to consider a modular plastic flooring system. These interlocking tiles snap together with ease and can be used to cover large areas. They come in a range of colors and are both impact- and stain-resistant. Vinyl floor mats are somewhat less impressive aesthetically, but they are more economical.