How to Paint the Block Walls in a Basement

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Things You'll Need

  • Mild detergent

  • Water

  • Sponge

  • Stiff-bristle brush

  • Stiff wire brush

  • Vacuum

  • Caulk or epoxy crack sealer

  • Low adhesive tape

  • Paintbrush

  • Roller brush

  • Masonry primer

  • Masonry paint

Paint will brighten block walls and control moisture in the basement.

Paint concrete basement walls to increase the basement's aesthetic appeal and improve moisture control. Concrete is porous and it is not unusual for basement walls to absorb water from the ground and pass it into the house. Painting your basement with a quality paint can help control some of the seepage. A good paint job can also help brighten a space that often suffers from a lack of natural light.


Step 1

Examine the surface of the wall for efflorescence, a fine, white, powdery substance. Wash away efflorescence with mild detergent and a stiff-bristle brush.

Step 2

Scrape dirt and loose grit from cracks with a wire brush. Vacuum away residual dust and debris. Seal the crack with 100 percent acrylic, siliconized acrylic caulk or an epoxy crack sealer. Apply the caulk or sealer according to the manufacturer's directions.

Step 3

Wash the walls with a mild detergent to remove dirt, grease and grime. Rinse the walls with plain water and a clean sponge.


Step 4

Mask adjacent areas with low-adhesive tape to protect them from the paint. Place dropcloths on the floor to protect it from overspray, splatters and spills.

Step 5

Apply a masonry primer with either a high-quality ½- to ¾-inch nap roller or 4-inch nylon/polyester brush to reduce the amount of paint you'll need to use to cover the wall, as well as to protect the paint layer from efflorescence and discoloration.

Step 6

Apply one coat of flat, semi-gloss or satin finish of a top-quality, 100 percent acrylic masonry paint. Fill every pore and void on the wall's surface. Follow with a second coat of paint. Devote extra care toward covering any pores you missed with the first coat.

Step 7

Remove protective tape, plastic and dropcloths and discard. Discard brushes and rollers or clean according to the paint manufacturer's directions.


Bring in additional lighting to poorly lit basements so you can see small cracks and to confirm you covered all the spots with primer and paint.

Expect to use 20 to 50 percent more paint on your masonry or cinder block wall than you would expect to use on a less porous surface of the same area.


If you have large areas of efflorescence, they will likely return if you do not treat the underlying cause. In most instances, you'll have to address the problem from the outer side of the wall.

Consult with a professional to evaluate large cracks before you paint.


references & resources

Lee Roberts

Lee Roberts has written professionally in different capacities throughout her career. She has written for not-for-profit and commercial entities since she received her Bachelor of Arts in sociology from the University of Michigan in 1986. She is currently writing an extensive work of fiction.