Hang on to your hat …This is a really big job to correctly do if you will have any real long-term traffic on your floor. I really advise solvent paints for floors but you can try water-based coatings at your own risk. I really advise that any solvent floor paint be professionally applied!!! If this floor is to look good and not really get any traffic, water based materials may work for you, but they never have for me.

First, I believe that no latex or non-solvent floor paints are appropriate for foot traffic over concrete. Latex paints are sold, residentially applied, then wear or peel off over time. I am even suspect of water based epoxies for floor coating with traffic. This is a big and dangerous project to properly do as you will discover from my explanation.

First, cleaning the floor with a commercial, circular floor buffer with an abrasive mesh of 100 or 120 grit is the first step. Buff-sand the whole floor. Second, power wash is preferred or rinse-wash the floor twice with clear, warm water. Then allow the floor to completely dry with the assistance of a dehumidifier. Professional floor coaters use a steel pellet-blast system to erode the top surface off the concrete to assure a really clean surface to apply the coating to but this is not likely for a home job.

Next, shut off the gas to your house and turn off the furnace and water heaters, both the gas and electric sources to each because the solvents and paints are very explosive. Open all windows in the house and wear a carbon cartridge respirator to filter the solvent & paint fumes. Wipe any residual dust from the floor with a solvent appropriate for the epoxy primer, like MEK (methyl ethyl ketone), a really nasty, explosive, carcinogenic solvent). Now you are ready to BEGIN coating the floor.

Even if you choose to do the water-based coating, I advise you do the buffing, rinsing, and solvent wiping prior to any coating. Ask your paint supplier to specify the “solvent wipe” material according to the primer you plan to use. Make SURE you are dealing with an experienced and knowledgeable paint-rep that knows these products.

The epoxy sealer is a great PRIMER to apply to the raw concrete prior to any other coating. Do not apply a solvent based epoxy over most paints, it will lift the previous paint off like a paint stripper. The primer is best thinned to a water like consistency to allow it to soak into the pores of the concrete. The epoxy will cure for 24 hours yet must be recoated within 48 hours for the next coating to adhere or stick to the primer.

I advise two coats of a solvent type top-coating like a urethane to cover the epoxy primer. This paint coating is also very volatile, meaning explosive, so keep the respirator and ventilation going throughout the process. Any faux finish paint, the same material as the 2nd & 3rd coats in different colors, is to be applied. No top coat is necessary if you use a urethane. Urethanes are not available in a low luster or non-gloss finish, even if they are called low luster. They are inherently glossy.

After the fumes from the last coat of paint dissipate from the house, you can turn your gas and electric back on the house, relight any gas pilot lights, and reheat the house. again I advise this to be professionally done, usually during warmer weather for inside projects because of the ventilation reasons.