What Is Waterproof Paint? Everything You Need to Know

Alison Kasch
Written by Alison Kasch
Updated April 4, 2023
A cozy family room in a basement
Photo: Javani LLC / Adobe Stock

Waterproof paint is a quick and easy fix, but it may not be your best long-term solution 

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If the paint on the walls of your musty, humid basement is peeling and flaking, waterproof paint could be a perfect quick fix. However, that doesn’t mean you can slap some paint on and forget about the issue—these are actually signs of a bigger moisture problem that waterproof paint can’t solve long-term. 

Let’s break down how waterproof paint works, and when it’s the most effective paint solution.

What Is Waterproof Paint?

Waterproof paint is a type of paint designed to resist water and humidity. It’s typically made with a combination of resins, pigments, and additives, which provide a tough, long-lasting coating that withstands exposure to water without cracking, peeling, or lifting. Waterproof paint is also resistant to mold and mildew growth, making it ideal for use in humid environments or where paint is likely to come into contact with water, such as bathrooms, kitchens, or basements.

Is Waterproof Paint Effective?

Waterproof paint is an affordable solution that’s easy to apply as a DIY project. It creates a barrier to hold back moisture, but it doesn’t eliminate the source of the water.

Common basement materials (like concrete) are porous, meaning water vapor can penetrate through them. That vapor carries minerals that build up on walls in the form of a white, flaky powder called efflorescence. This buildup can happen behind waterproof paint coatings, creating pressure that eventually causes the paint to blister, peel, or flake off.

If you hire a basement waterproofing contractor, many will tell you that waterproof paint is only a temporary solution. On average, you can expect it to last from six months to two years in a wet basement before deteriorating.

Best Places for Waterproof Paint

Waterproof paint is useful in a variety of settings that are frequently exposed to water or moisture. Here are some of the best places to use waterproof paint:

  • Bathrooms: Waterproof paint is an excellent bathroom paint choice, as it can protect the walls and ceiling from moisture and humidity.

  • Kitchens: Kitchens can also benefit from waterproof paint, especially in areas near the sink or stove where water and steam can accumulate.

  • Basements: Basements are often chronically damp and prone to water damage, so waterproof basement paint can help prevent walls from mold and mildew growth.

  • Swimming pools: The area surrounding a swimming pool is frequently exposed to water; waterproof paint can help protect the concrete or other surfaces from damage.

  • Exterior walls: If you live in a rainy or humid climate, waterproof paint can help protect the exterior of your home from mold, mildew, and water damage.

  • Garage floors: Garage floors are often exposed to water and chemicals, so waterproof paint can help prevent damage and prolong the life of the concrete.

Types of Waterproof Paint

There are several types of waterproof paints, all varying in durability and meant for different applications. Here are a few of the most common types.

1. Masonry Paint

Latex-based masonry waterproofing paint is made with ceramic materials that give it water-resistant and mildew-resistant qualities. The paint adheres to brick and concrete, and you can clean it easily using soap and water.

2. Epoxy Paint

Epoxy is a plastic resin that helps this paint harden quickly into a durable, waterproof seal. It’s commonly used for boats and water tanks, although it can be applied to basement or garage flooring as well as stone, metal, concrete, and cement surfaces.

3. Acrolein Elasticized Paint

Acrolein is a highly toxic material that, when combined with acrylic paint, becomes a waterproof substance that prevents mold, mildew, and moisture-loving bacteria from growing on concrete. Handle this paint with care and follow all proper safety procedures on the label of your product.

Advantages of Waterproof Paint

A man painting wall with paint roller
Photo: Artur Nyk / Adobe Stock

Waterproof paint has several advantages over regular paint. Here are some of the main benefits of using waterproof paint:

  • Resists water damage: The key advantage of waterproof paint is that it resists water damage by forming a barrier against water and moisture.

  • Prevents mold and mildew growth: Waterproof paint helps to prevent the growth of mold and mildew, which can be harmful to your health and cause damage to your home.

  • Durable: Waterproof paint is typically more durable overall than regular paint, meaning it’s stronger and typically lasts longer.

  • Easy to clean: Waterproof paint is often easier to clean than regular paint, as it resists stains and you can wipe it down with a damp cloth.

  • Versatile: Waterproof paint can be used on various surfaces, including walls, ceilings, floors, and even outdoor surfaces.

  • Aesthetically pleasing: Waterproof paint comes in a variety of colors and finishes, so you can choose a style that suits your taste and complements your decor.

Disadvantages of Waterproof Paint

While waterproof paint has several advantages, it also has some disadvantages to consider before using it. Here are some of the main disadvantages of using waterproof paint:

  • Higher cost: Waterproof paint is often more expensive than regular paint due to its specialized properties and production costs. Waterproof paint costs between $1 to $8 per square foot.

  • Limited color options: While waterproof paint comes in a variety of colors, options may be more limited compared to regular paint.

  • Difficult to apply: Waterproof paint can be more difficult to apply than regular paint, requiring multiple paint coats and specialized techniques to ensure proper coverage.

  • May require additional surface prep: Waterproof paint may require additional surface preparation, such as filling cracks and holes, to ensure that it adheres properly and provides adequate protection.

  • May not be a permanent solution: While waterproof paint can provide some level of protection against water damage, it may not be a permanent solution to underlying issues such as chronic water leaks or excess moisture.

  • May have a strong odor: Some types of waterproof paint have a strong odor and may require extra ventilation to ensure safety during application.

Nick P. Cellucci contributed to this article.

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