Using Concrete Paint on Wood

Painting wood to look like concrete is an interesting design choice that can change the aesthetic of a space. But is it possible to use concrete or masonry paint on wood surfaces? And will it adhere properly and give the visual effect you’re looking for? This guide will cover everything you need to know about using concrete paint on wood.

Can You Use Concrete Paint on Wood?

The short answer is yes, you can use concrete or masonry paint on wood. However, there are some important considerations to keep in mind.

Masonry paints are formulated differently than typical wood paints. They contain binders and additives that allow them to better adhere to masonry surfaces like concrete, stucco, brick and stone. This makes them thicker and less breathable than paints designed for wood.

Wood needs to be able to breathe and release moisture. Using a thick masonry paint can potentially seal in moisture and cause the wood to deteriorate more quickly. So proper prep and priming is essential to allow the wood to still breathe through the paint.

Key Preparation Tips for Using Concrete Paint on Wood:

  • Make sure the wood surface is completely clean, dry and free of any dirt, grease, wax or debris that could interfere with adhesion.
  • Sand the wood lightly to rough up the surface and allow the paint to grip better.
  • Prime the wood using a high-quality primer designed for masonry surfaces. This will provide a base layer for the paint to stick to.
  • Allow proper drying time for the primer before applying masonry paint.

With the right prep work, masonry paint can adhere to wood and achieve the concrete-like look you’re after. But not all brands work equally well, so testing is advised. More on choosing the right concrete paint later.

First, let’s look at why you may want to paint wood to look like concrete and how it compares to using regular wood paint.

Painting Wood to Look Like Concrete: Pros and Cons

Painting wood with concrete or masonry paint to give it a modern, industrial look is growing in popularity. Here are some of the benefits and drawbacks to consider:

Pros of Using Concrete Paint on Wood:

  • Distinctive look – Concrete-painted wood has a uniquely modern, urban feel that stands out.
  • Texture – Masonry paints can create a lightly textured, porous look reminiscent of concrete.
  • Durability – High-quality masonry paints formulated for wood provide excellent protection and weather resistance.
  • Curb appeal – Concrete wood can increase visual interest and perceived value for homes.

Cons of Using Concrete Paint on Wood:

  • Skill required – Achieving an even, realistic concrete look takes skill and multiple coats.
  • Moisture issues – The wrong masonry paint may seal in moisture and damage wood over time.
  • Hiding wood grain – The concrete look covers up natural wood grain that some may prefer.
  • Cost – Masonry-based paints cost more than basic wood paints.
  • Odor – Some masonry paints have stronger odor during application. Proper ventilation is a must.

So while creating a concrete look on wood is possible, it requires using the right specialty paint and proper prep and application technique. Testing first in an inconspicuous area is advised.

Using a standard high-quality exterior wood paint may be the simpler, more foolproof option in many cases. But if done right, concrete wood can be an attractive, distinctive choice.

Is Paint for Wood and Concrete the Same? Key Differences

While it is possible to use concrete paint on wood with proper preparation, paint formulated for wood and concrete/masonry is not the same. There are some key differences:

Wood Paint

  • Designed for flexibility and breathability on wood surfaces
  • Typically latex or acrylic-based
  • Lower viscosity for easier brushing and spraying
  • Faster drying time
  • Lower odor
  • Available in wide range of finishes – satin, gloss, semi-gloss etc.

Concrete/Masonry Paint

  • Formulated to bond well on dense, alkaline surfaces
  • Typically vinyl-acrylic or silicone-modified polymers
  • Higher viscosity and density
  • Slower drying time
  • Stronger solvent odors
  • Limited finishes – flat, eggshell or satin

So while wood paint flexes as wood expands and contracts, concrete paint offers greater adhesion and protection on rigid surfaces like stucco, concrete and brick.

Many masonry paints are also elastomeric, meaning they can stretch and bridge minor cracks. But this flexibility comes at the cost of being thick and less breathable.

Oil-based paints are not well-suited for concrete or wood. For best results on all surfaces, stick with high-quality acrylic or latex paints, applying the right one for each specific surface.

Can I Use Floor Paint on Wood?

Floor paints are specifically designed to withstand foot traffic, scratches, moisture and heavy wear and tear. At first glance, this may make them seem ideal for painting wood surfaces like furniture or cabinetry. However, floor paint has some drawbacks on vertical wood surfaces:

Pros of Using Floor Paint on Wood:

  • High durability and scratch resistance
  • Resistance to grease, oils and certain chemicals
  • Easier to clean and wipe down

Cons of Using Floor Paint on Wood:

  • Thick consistency not ideal for brushing or spraying
  • Limited sheens – mostly flat, eggshell, low-luster
  • Slow drying time
  • Strong solvent fumes
  • Textured additives may create uneven look

While the urethane and epoxy floor paints are extremely durable choices for high-traffic horizontal surfaces like patios, porches, and basement floors, they are not the best choice for typical vertical wood surfaces.

Thinner paints formulated specifically for interior or exterior wood will have better flow and leveling when brushing onto vertical wood grain. They also provide faster drying and less odor.

So while floor paint can physically be applied to wood, for best results on furniture, cabinets, fencing, etc., use a quality wood paint instead. Reserve thick floor paint for horizontal surfaces.

Is It Okay to Use Masonry Paint on Wood?

As discussed earlier, masonry paint can be used on wood if proper precautions are taken to prepare the wood surface and choose the right product.

The biggest concern is using a thick masonry paint that seals in moisture and prevents the wood from breathing. So the keys are:

  • Proper cleaning, sanding and priming of the wood first
  • Choosing a masonry paint specifically formulated for exterior wood use
  • Looking for acrylic/latex-based masonry paint instead of oil-based
  • Testing adhesion on a small area before painting the entire surface

Many standard concrete and stucco paints simply won’t adhere well or deliver the right look on wood. But there are some masonry paint brands designed to work on both concrete and wood surfaces, such as:

  • BEHR Premium Concrete & Wood Masonry Paint
  • KILZ Masonry, Stucco and Brick Paint
  • INSL-X SureGrip Acrylic Masonry & Concrete Paint
  • Sherwin-Williams Loxon Concrete & Masonry Paint

These hybrid masonry paints flex to better suit both rigid concrete and more flexible wood. They offer improved adhesion, protection and breathability compared to typical stucco paints.

When using any masonry paint on exterior wood, limit it to small accents and trims rather than large vertical surfaces. Prioritize proper prep, priming, thinning if needed, and testing first.

With the right product and careful application, achieving a distinctive concrete look on wood facades, planters, furniture and other accents is certainly possible.

How to Prepare and Prime Wood for Concrete Paint

Applying masonry paint successfully on wood requires careful prep work first. Here are key steps:

Cleaning the Wood Surface

  • Remove any existing paint or finish with chemical stripper or sanding
  • Use TSP substitute cleaner to remove all dirt, oil, wax and debris
  • Pressure wash if needed to remove mold, mildew and stubborn grime
  • Allow wood to fully dry before priming and painting

Sanding and Smoothing the Wood

  • Lightly sand to scuff up the surface and remove loose fibers
  • Smooth any raised wood grains for better paint adhesion
  • Vacuum sanding debris; wipe clean with a tack cloth

Take care not to over-sand and damage the integrity of the wood. The goal is to prepare the surface, not remove excess material.

Choosing the Right Primer

Look for primers specifically designed for masonry surfaces, such as:

  • KILZ Adhesion High-Bonding Interior/Exterior Primer
  • Zinsser B-I-N Advanced Synthetic Shellac Primer
  • Glidden Gripper Advanced All-Purpose Primer

Avoid wood-only primers. The right primer will act as a “bridge” between the wood and masonry paint. Apply primer according to manufacturer directions.

Two coats may be needed on untreated, porous woods. Allow proper drying time between primer coats and before applying masonry paint. The primer should form a smooth, uniform foundation for the finish paint.

Filling Holes and Imperfections

Use a quality wood filler designed for exterior use to patch any holes, cracks or imperfections. Allow the filler to fully cure. Sand smooth before priming and painting.

Proper prep and priming are crucial steps before attempting to paint wood with concrete or stucco paint. This gives the thick masonry paint something to “grab” onto for better adhesion and performance.

Rushing this process can lead to paint failure down the road. It’s worth taking the time up front to ensure success.

How to Apply Concrete Paint to Wood Surfaces

Once the wood surface has been prepped and primed thoroughly, you can proceed with applying specialty masonry paint. Follow these tips for best results:

Choosing the Right Paint and Sheen

Look for acrylic or latex-based masonry paints made for exterior wood use, as covered earlier. Flat or satin finishes will be closest to a real concrete appearance.

Purchase enough paint to complete the entire project. Batch numbers can vary, so avoiding running out mid-job gives a consistent color.

Testing Paint Adhesion

Paint a small test patch in an inconspicuous area first. Allow to fully dry, then check adhesion by applying masking tape and peeling it off quickly. The paint should remain intact.

Applying the First Coat

Use a quality nylon or polyester brush, or a low-pressure sprayer. Apply a thin, even layer according to manufacturer directions. Avoid thick, globby coats that can run or sag.

Work in sections to avoid lap marks where wet and dry paint meet. Maintain a wet edge.

Allowing Proper Dry Time

Give the first coat ample time to dry before recoating, checking label directions. Cool, humid conditions may require longer dry times.

Sanding Between Coats (Optional)

For super-smooth finish, you can lightly sand between coats with 220 grit sandpaper to remove any debris or inconsistencies. Avoid over-sanding.

Applying Second Coat

The second coat helps build color depth and proper coverage. Use same application techniques as first coat. Two coats are usually sufficient.

Achieving Realistic Concrete Look

It will take some experimenting with multiple coats to replicate a realistic concrete appearance on wood.

Consider applying a base color coat first if needed before the concrete paint for a more solid, opaque finish.

Be patient and allow proper dry time between coats. The end result will be worth the effort and care taken!

Proper prep, primer, paint selection, and application technique are all crucial factors in successfully using concrete paint on wood surfaces. Test in small areas first before painting entire projects.

Tips for Achieving a Realistic Faux Concrete Look on Wood

While masonry paints allow you to mimic the look of concrete on wood, there are some techniques that can help take the appearance to the next level:

  • Base Color Coat – For most accurate concrete replication, first apply a solid base color coat like light gray before the masonry paint. This hides the wood grain.
  • Multiple Thin Layers – Build up the depth and texture with 3-4 thin coats rather than 1-2 thick coats. Let dry fully between coats.
  • Textured Roller – Use a special decorative roller with an uneven surface to impart subtle texture to the wet paint.
  • Shading – While still wet, use rag rolling or sponges to lightly shade and variegate the surface and mimic how real concrete looks.
  • Dry Brushing – Once fully dry, brush lighter acrylic paints over raised areas to accentuate the texture.
  • Slight Sheen Variations – Use flat paint on some sections and satin on others for natural-looking variation.
  • Sealer – Finish with a clear concrete sealer to protect the finish.

With the right masonry paint products and creative faux finishing techniques, you can turn wood into amazingly realistic-looking “concrete”. Test small areas until you achieve the desired effect.

Best Concrete Paints for Wood Surfaces

Not all masonry paints are created equal when it comes to usage on exterior wood. Here are some top-rated options:

1. Behr Premium Concrete & Wood Paint

  • 100% acrylic latex formula
  • Low-luster satin finish
  • Vapor permeable – allows wood to breathe
  • Resists fading, cracking, peeling
  • Ideal for patios, siding, fences, furniture

2. INSL-X SureGrip Acrylic Masonry & Concrete Paint

  • 100% acrylic specifically designed for wood and masonry
  • Bonds tightly; resists blistering and peeling
  • Soap and water cleanup
  • Available in flat, satin and semi-gloss

3. KILZ Masonry, Stucco & Brick Paint

  • Latex-acrylic formula suitable for painted wood
  • Lo-Lustre finish helps hide surface imperfections
  • Excellent adhesion and durability
  • Mold and mildew resistant

4. Sherwin-Williams Loxon Concrete & Masonry Paint

  • Acrylic-elastomeric formula flexes with wood movement
  • Self-priming in most cases
  • Excellent flow and leveling
  • Available in flat and satin finish

When selecting masonry paint for wood, look for “concrete and wood” or “masonry and wood” designations on the label and product description to ensure suitability.

Tips for Maintaining Concrete Painted Wood Surfaces

Masonry paint provides excellent protection for exterior wood surfaces. But maintaining the finish properly is key to avoiding peeling, fading and other damage over time:

  • Allow new masonry paint to cure fully before cleaning, per manufacturer directions. Initial washing can damage uncured paint.
  • Use mild soap and water to periodically wash dirt and grime. Avoid abrasive cleaners.
  • Rinse thoroughly after washing to remove any soap residue.
  • Reapply exterior sealer every 2-3 years per manufacturer recommendations. This protects the finish.
  • Watch for any cracks or peeling paint. Touch up immediately before damage spreads.
  • Plan to repaint every 3-5 years depending on exposure and wear. Light sanding between coats maintains adhesion.
  • If staining develops, attempt cleaning before repainting. It may be surface dirt rather than paint failure.

With proper prep, application and maintenance, masonry paint can deliver beautiful, distinctive concrete wood looks that last for years. Correct any minor issues promptly to avoid needing a full strip-and-repaint prematurely.

Achieving a Safe and Effective Concrete Painted Wood Finish

Painting wood with masonry paint allows creativity but also requires care:

Environmental Safety

  • Work in a well-ventilated area to minimize inhaling paint fumes and solvent odors. New paint odor dissipates over time.
  • Keep children and pets away from project area during prep, painting and curing process.
  • Properly dispose of all soiled rags, used sandpaper, primer cans etc. according to local regulations. Don’t burn or illegally dump hazardous waste.
  • Whenever possible, choose paint with low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) levels to minimize environmental and health impact.

Personal Safety

  • Wear gloves, goggles and a protective face mask or respirator when prepping, priming and painting. Concrete paints use strong chemicals.
  • Work carefully when using chemical paint strippers, power washers, and other tools. Follow all directions.
  • Keep paint products sealed tightly when not in use to avoid leaks or spills.

With some common sense precautions, you can safely achieve beautiful, durable concrete wood finishes. Just take steps to minimize exposure to chemicals and work carefully.

The end result will update the look of any space while protecting the wood for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does concrete paint work on all types of wood?

A: It can work on most exterior-grade woods like pine, cedar, redwood, fir, and pressure-treated lumber when proper prep and primer is used. Very oily tropical hardwoods are not recommended. Always test first.

Q: Can I use concrete paint on interior wood?

A: Most concrete paints are formulated for exterior use. For interior applications, choose specialty masonry paints rated for indoor use over wood trim, furniture etc. Ensure proper ventilation.

Q: How long does concrete paint last on wood?

A: Approximately 3-5 years on exteriors depending on usage, exposure and maintenance. Spot paint as needed before topcoat fails.

Q: How long does concrete paint take to cure?

A: Curing varies by brand but typically 48-72 hours before light use, 7 days for full cure. Avoid heavy use or cleaning during initial curing period.

Q: Does concrete paint peel easily from wood?

A: When proper prep, primer and paint formulated for wood is used, it should not peel easily. If peeling occurs, the surface may not have been prepped and primed correctly prior to painting.

Q: Can concrete paint be applied over previously painted wood?

A: In most cases yes, after properly preparing the existing paint surface via cleaning, sanding and spot priming as needed. However, some paint combinations are incompatible. Always test a small area first.

Q: What kind of primer should be used on wood before concrete paint?

A: Quality acrylic or latex exterior wood primers designed for masonry surfaces work best to improve adhesion. Avoid wood-only primers.

Q: Is an acrylic sealer needed on top of concrete painted wood?

A: Sealing is optional but recommended every 2-3 years for added protection. Use acrylic clear sealers compatible with masonry paint.

Q: What do I do if concrete paint won’t stick to wood?

A: Ensure the wood surface is clean, dry, sound and properly primed first. The paint may also be too thick; thin up to 10% with water and test again. If still having adhesion issues, consider a different brand.

Q: Can I use textured masonry paint on wood for a stucco look?

A: Yes, heavily textured paints can create a light stucco or troweled effect. Use textured paints formulated for wood and do multiple thin coats for best results.

Final Thought

With careful surface prep and using the right paint products, creating unique faux concrete, stucco and stone finishes on wood is certainly achievable. Always test small areas first and make any needed adjustments before painting entire projects. Patience and care will pay off!

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