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My front steps are very old. The paint was chipping off so I used a chemical paint stripper to remove it. I also used a pressure washer to get the rest of it off.

I would like to stain the steps but they do not have an even surface. It looks like parts of it were patched with something because those parts are a lighter color.

  • Should I just prime and paint it white again?
  • Is there something to use to even it out and then use stain?
  • I've heard about epoxy but is it hard to use? And can you stain over it?
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You can't stain over epoxy. Epoxy paint/concrete (epoxy=2 stage, mix the stages, chemical cure) coating is a very resilient and good choice, but is expensive and more difficult to work with, and will wear about the same as a one-step paint in an outdoor environment.

Otherwise, choose something like a high-hide masonry primer and paint it -- or choose a one-step masonry paint. Don't just use your average latex house paint.

Behr makes a good one-step masonry paint. I haven't used an epoxy, but they're most common indoors (in garages) -- Only ones that I personally have seen/used outdoors are very expensive combinations intended for traction in marine environments. My favorite paint company, Benjamin Moore, makes a primer and paint combination. The primer affixes to the concrete and then the paint adheres to the primer. I personally believe that a high grade paint and primer combination is the longest lasting solution. Your local Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams paint store will guide you to the best application for your location and climate.

Regarding patching, see this post: Is it possible to patch concrete stairs? -- Basically, you can re-coat the entire stair set in cement and dye that, but it will chip off.

And regarding primer or paints for concrete, see this post: Do I realliy need to use primer when painting an unfinished concrete floor?

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Do you think chipping is likely if the existing concrete is properly cleaned (pressure washed) and a bonding agent is applied? – The Evil Greebo Sep 30 '11 at 12:52
The chipping happens because of the porous and easily fractured nature of concrete. If there's any moisture in the concrete when you seal it, it'll blow any outside coating off. If there's a crack, water can penetrate there as the two parts of the steps move against one another. There's no real permanent solution to coating an exterior concrete surface in anything that won't eventually chip or pop off. – Karl Katzke Sep 30 '11 at 14:29

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