Boo! Learning from our mistakes with our painted porch

Porch Failure

You may recall we’ve been planning to paint our back porch. With a 4th of July BBQ looming on the horizon, Nate took control of the task. We planned two coats of paint and then to seal it, but we made some rookie mistakes.

The project was just a little discouraging. In fact, please don’t say the word “sealer” in Nate’s presence for at least a couple weeks.

BUT we are determined to learn from our mistakes and so can you. Here’s a few tips we’ve learned through the process.

What we learned about painting and sealing a concrete porch

Porch colors

1. Test your color choices.

No matter how well you clean it, there is going to be dirt and debris on the back porch so work with it. Find a color that will work (or hide) the dirt. We tested a bunch of colors before we purchased. After the paint dried, we did a happy dance over our color selection. Both of us are totally in love with the Martha Stewart Chianti color.

Porch Failure

2. Keep pets out of the paint.

This is simple to do when painting outside. Keep those pets inside. It still makes you feel guilty, but is much better than having to hogtie them down to get paint off their feet.


4. Follow the temperature guides.

It’s been a weird year here in Sacramento. Cooler temperatures and rain storms plagued us into June. But we still decided to paint our porch when the temps rose to the high 90s. Although this may not have been the root cause of our failures (see next item), I am sure it aggravated the situation. It’s best to keep the temperatures specified in mind before starting on a painting project. Behr suggests painting between temps of 50-90°F (10-32°C).


3 & 4. Research products you haven’t used before and if possible test before you apply.

This was out biggest problem. We didn’t research the best way to paint and seal our porch.


Mistake #1 – I bought interior paint instead of exterior. This resulted in the paint taking longer to dry and not adhering well to the surface. We corrected this on paint coat #3 with much better results.


Mistake #2 – We applied sealer without testing it. This was our biggest mistake. We followed the directions on the back of the container, but we found out much later that the application has to be very thin to dry clear.


5. Accept failure and move on.

When problems happen figure out how to fix them. Sometimes a short term solution is the only one available.

For us, it meant sanding down the sealer with 400-grit sandpaper and applying a final coat of exterior paint. To make sure we had no more issues, Nate even hung up a contraption to keep the kumquat blossoms off the drying paint. It sort-of worked. :/

The project was a learning experience. We will probably try sealing the patio later this year, but not until we figure out the best method.


In the end, our 4th of July BBQ was a blast. We accessorized the porch with potted plants after the paint dried. Everyone was in the pool having a grand time. The porch color was a hit and no one noticed anything wrong with it!

We'd love to hear what you think!