All concrete needs to be prepared.
New concrete is too tight at the surface and old concrete is too dirty. If you coat over these without first using a concrete grinder you will get partial adhesion in small areas, but the majority of the floor will suffer from peeling.
Peeling is simply a layer of coating material that has never really adhered to the surface and as it dries and hardens it de-laminates away cleanly leaving a bubble of air underneath. Only polished concrete that looks like it has been sealed is exempt from this problem.
Preparation consists of opening the surface of the concrete and cleaning it of any contaminants leaving it porous and clean which can be achieved in a few different ways depending on the state of the concrete that needs to be painted.
As a comparison, polished concrete which has no sealer or paint requires up to fifteen preparation steps to achieve the final finish, but often concrete can be prepared simply in one or two steps before painting. driveways sydney
Driveways & pavement
If concrete has been weathered for years the top polished finish may have been removed naturally and all it needs is a good clean with a water jet to prepare it. As a test you should hand scrub a few small areas the size of your hand with laundry powder detergent, water and a stiff brush, then rinse it and allow it to dry. Choose an area that is subjected to high traffic, an area that is sheltered and another area to the side that has never been worn. When the areas have thoroughly dried drip some clean water on them to see how porous the concrete is and how readily the water is absorbed because this is the best indication of how easily the paint will be absorbed.
Suppose all areas absorb water immediately, you could water jet clean the entire area and then just paint when it is dry making sure that the first coat is thinned 10%.
Water jet cleaning is quick, easy and an excellent way to prepare worn concrete because it removes dirt, algae and dust from the small pores of the surface. As long as it is rinsed properly without leaving residue to settle back into the pores the concrete is ready to coat immediately it looks dry.
There are two main concerns with preparation of worn concrete – one is sheltered sections that still have a tight surface and the second is oil that has soaked into the concrete.
Oil will eventually soak right through concrete over time aided by the sun to lower its resistance and the opening and closing of the concrete when it heats up and cools down. The good news is that you only have to remove it from just below the surface to achieve good adhesion and once the paint has dried it will stop the oil from returning to the surface unless the oil is very wet all the way through. If the oil is very wet you will need to extract most of it first with a solvent and an absorbent that can be found in any hardware.
To extract oil from concrete you need to wipe the area with a rag after applying Turpentine or a similar solvent to remove most of the surface material. Then cover the area with an absorbent product such as is used in cat baskets to absorb waste and apply more Turpentine to wet it. Cover with plastic sheet and allow it to work overnight. The oils will be diluted and as the solvent evaporates it will be trapped in the absorbent. Very bad areas may need two treatments.
Oil stains including those treated with the solvent can often be removed with simple laundry detergent powder and water, however the older stains will contain dirt which may be impossible to remove completely. Wet the surface and sprinkle with the detergent, rub it in with a broom making a wet paste and leave it for 30 minutes if possible wetting is slightly during this time if it appears to be drying out. When rinsed the stain should have gone or be mostly gone, but it will return within 12 hrs in hot weather as the oil comes back up to the surface again. If this happens it can be cleaned again, dried and painted as soon as possible to allow the paint to dry before the stain reappears. Using a wet vacuum will dry the areas quickly without wetting the rest of the concrete.