What Kind of Paint and Primer Is Best for Basement Walls?

Basement walls are prone to problems such as moisture, mold, and mildew. Choosing the right kind of primer and paint for the basement walls is essential to prevent these problems.

Waterproof paint is the best for basement walls. It is easy to clean, offers superior coverage, and does not leave streaks. The paint also helps to keep the basement walls dry by preventing moisture seepage. For primer, a primer specifically made for concrete and masonry is recommended.

In this article, you will learn:

  • The 10 factors to consider when choosing paint for basement walls
  • What type of paint to use
  • What finish is best
  • My top picks for the best paint and primer for basement walls

The 10 Factors to Consider When Choosing Paint for Basement Walls

1. Condition of the Wall

The condition of your basement walls will play a role in determining the best type of paint to use. If your walls suffer from cracks, crumbling, or other damage, it may be best to choose a paint with some built-in filling or sealing properties, as this can help to smooth out the surface and provide a more durable finish.

Additionally, if you have previously painted walls in good condition, you may get away with using less specialized paint.

2. Type of Paint

There are different types of paint designed for different surfaces. Select paint specifically designed for concrete or masonry when painting your basement walls.

These paints are durable and can handle the moisture in your basement. You could opt for water-based paints because they are easier to clean and have low odor levels.

3. Type of Surface

The surface of your basement walls will determine the type of paint you need. If your walls are concrete or cinder block, you’ll need paint that can bond well with the surface.

Epoxy paints are a good option for concrete walls, providing a strong, durable finish that can withstand moisture. Masonry paints are also a good choice as they are designed to adhere well to rough surfaces.

4. Moisture Levels

Basements are known to be damp, and moisture can negatively affect your paint job. Before painting your basement, ensure it is dry.

You can test your basement’s moisture levels using a moisture meter. If the levels are high, you must address the issue before painting. You could consider using a dehumidifier or waterproofing your basement.

5. Coverage

Coverage is another factor to consider when choosing paint for your basement walls. You want to select a product with good coverage so you won’t have to apply multiple coats. This will save you time and money in the long run.

6. Ventilation

Proper ventilation is essential when painting a basement. If your basement doesn’t have good ventilation, do not choose paint high in VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds).

These paints create toxic fumes and are hazardous to your health. Look for low-VOC paints that are more eco-friendly and safe for enclosed spaces.

7. Purpose of the Room

Consider what your basement will be used for before choosing your paint. If you are painting a playroom for your children, you may opt for a washable paint that can be easily cleaned.

If you want to create a luxurious home cinema, an eggshell or satin finish would look great and provide enhanced durability. Whatever the room’s purpose, make sure to pick the best type of paint for your needs.

8. Finish

The paint’s finish can distinguish between an epic experience and a dull, drab basement. The choice of finish can depend on the type of look you wish to achieve; high-gloss finishes can create an elegant and more reflective ambiance, while a less shiny finish can provide an understated and chic look.

9. Amount of Traffic

Basements can be used for various purposes, such as a storage area, a laundry room, or even a home gym. This means that the traffic your basement receives can also affect the type of paint you choose. High-traffic areas may require more durable and resistant paint, while low-traffic areas may not need high-strength paint.

10. Budget

Finally, you’ll want to consider your budget when selecting paint for your basement walls. While it can be tempting to opt for the cheapest option available, remember that you often get what you pay for when it comes to painting.

Spending a little extra on high-quality paint that meets your needs will save you money in the long run, as you won’t need to repaint or touch up your walls as frequently.

What Type of Paint Is Best?

Latex Paint

Latex paint is a water-based paint made of pigments, binders, and water-based liquids, known for its fast-drying properties. It’s highly durable, non-toxic, and suitable for interior and exterior paint jobs, often used on large surfaces like walls and ceilings.


  • Fast Drying: Dries and cures quicker than many other types of paint.
  • Durability: Known for its resilience on interior walls and ceilings.
  • Easy Clean-up: Can be cleaned up with soap and water.
  • Odor: Emits less odor compared to other paints.
  • Mold Resistance: Helps prevent mold growth on basement walls.
  • Smooth Finish: Creates a finish that resists chipping, cracking, and scuffing.


  • Less Adaptable: Doesn’t have the adaptability of acrylic paint.
  • Repainting: May require repainting over time due to wear and tear.
  • Moisture Intrusion: It may not completely prevent moisture seepage in basements despite its benefits.

Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint for painting basement walls is a versatile, durable option that adheres well to concrete surfaces. It dries quickly, doesn’t require sanding or priming, and provides a long-lasting finish, making it a popular choice for basement wall applications.


  • Durability: Long-lasting and resilient.
  • Glossy Finish: Provides a shine similar to oil-based paints.
  • Color Variety: Available in a wide range of vibrant colors.
  • Adhesion: Offers better adhesion than latex paint.
  • Flexibility: The chemicals instilled ensure great flexibility.


  • Requires Sealer: A sealer may be necessary before application to avoid potential damage.
  • Not Ideal for All Surfaces: May not be the best choice for all types of basement walls.

Epoxy Paint

Epoxy paint for basement walls is a highly durable coating composed of epoxy resin and hardener, known for its resistance to staining, cracking, and peeling. It is ideal for basements due to its waterproof properties and ability to cover porous surfaces effectively.


  • Durability: Highly resistant to staining, cracking, and peeling.
  • Finish: Leaves a satin finish on concrete surfaces.
  • Maintenance: Requires minimal upkeep.
  • Resistance: Impervious to water penetration and spills.


  • Application: Pure epoxy paint can be difficult to apply and may require professional help.
  • Cost: High-quality epoxy paint can be costly.
  • Environmental Impact: May not be the most environmentally friendly option.

Elastomeric Paint

Elastomeric paint for basement walls is a high-build coating designed to expand and contract, making it ideal for waterproofing surfaces such as masonry and stucco.

It forms a thick, flexible layer that can bridge hairline cracks, providing excellent moisture resistance and durability, especially for rough and porous surfaces.


  • Durability: Offers a thicker layer that outlives most paints.
  • Waterproofing: Provides a secure coating that prevents moisture penetration.
  • Breathability: Allows the surface underneath to breathe.
  • Energy Efficiency: Can result in energy savings due to its reflective properties.
  • Elasticity: Can bridge and fill hairline cracks due to its flexible nature.


  • Cost: Can cost up to 50% more than regular paint.
  • Application: Requires special equipment and expertise for proper application.
  • Aesthetic: The thickness of the paint can create a “plastic” look on the surface.
  • Damage Risk: Any breach in the coating can lead to moisture getting to the surface, leading to potential damage.

What Paint Finish Is Best?

When considering the best paint finish for basement walls, it is important to keep in mind the durability and waterproofing requirements. Basements are typically prone to moisture issues, so selecting a paint finish that is waterproof and can withstand wear and tear is crucial.

A high-gloss finish is the most durable and waterproof option available. However, it may not be the best choice for basement walls as it can be too shiny and reflective for most homeowners.

It is also important to note that high-gloss finishes can highlight imperfections on walls, which may not be desirable for a basement space.

For a less glossy but still durable option, consider a semi-gloss finish. It provides a good balance between durability and shine, making it an ideal option for basement walls.

This finish can resist stains, moisture, and wear over time, making it perfect for high-use areas like basements.

For a more subtle sheen, satin or eggshell finishes might be the right choice. A satin finish is another great choice since it provides a subtle shine without being too glossy.

It is a durable finish that is also easy to clean, making it perfect for high-traffic areas. Moreover, it is a moisture-resistant finish, making it suitable for damp environments such as basements.

On the other hand, an eggshell finish is a popular choice for walls in general. This finish has just a hint of sheen, which makes it an attractive option for basements.

It provides a subtle shine without being too reflective. However traditional eggshell finishes are not as durable or waterproof as other options, so it is important to select a product specifically designed for moisture-prone areas such as basements.

The Best Paint and Primer for Basement Walls

Best Paint

INSL-X WaterBlock Acrylic Masonry Waterproofer Paint is the best paint for basement walls due to its exceptional waterproofing capabilities, alkali resistance, and positive sealing for interior and exterior masonry surfaces, including retaining walls, foundations, and exterior walls. It protects against water damage and can be applied directly to bare masonry surfaces.

One of the primary reasons it is recommended for basement walls is its exceptional waterproofing capabilities. Basements are high-moisture environments that are susceptible to water damage.

Its unique formulation provides positive sealing and waterproofing over bare concrete blocks, brick, stucco, or tilt-up concrete walls, ensuring a strong barrier against moisture.

Moreover, it is alkali-resistant, making it the ideal choice for alkaline masonry surfaces common in basements. Alkalinity can cause damage to paint finishes over time, which can compromise the integrity of waterproofing.

However, this high-performance paint is engineered to withstand harsh environmental conditions and combat the effects of alkalinity.

Another significant benefit is that it is easy to use. The paint does not require pre-mixing or surface pre-wetting, making it a hassle-free choice for homeowners or contractors.

It further contains an agent that inhibits mildew growth on the paint film’s surface. Basements and other high-humidity areas are less likely to experience mold and fungal growth.

Best Primer

If you’re looking for the best primer for basement walls, KILZ Klear Interior/Exterior Primer is the way to go.

This top-rated product is specially formulated to bond and seal porous surfaces, making it an ideal choice for basement walls typically prone to moisture and water damage.

This primer offers an advanced formula that’s both alkali-resistant and clear, making it perfect for same-color painting.

Its incredible versatility means it can be used on various surfaces, including torn drywall facing paper, dried wallcovering adhesive, ‘hot’ joint compounds, concrete, and stucco.

In addition to being suitable for interior and exterior surfaces, it is also compatible with oil and water-based paints. This makes it a great choice for anyone looking to add a layer of protection to their basement walls before painting them.

One of the standout features of KILZ Klear Primer is its superior coverage. With just one gallon (3.8L), you can cover up to 400 square feet (37m²) of basement wall space, making it an economical choice for larger projects.

Joshua Milton

Joshua Milton is a passionate DIY and home improvement enthusiast. With his expertise in various projects, he provides practical tips, step-by-step guides, and creative ideas for transforming your living space.

Recent Posts