How to Stain Concrete

A Guide to Do-it-Yourself Stained Concrete

So, you have finally decided to do something about that ugly looking concrete surface. You probably know that using any type of regular paint on concrete will only chip and peel away quickly. The best way to get amazing looking concrete surfaces that holds up to traffic and weather is with concrete staining.

Stained concrete takes advantage of the porous nature of this type of material, and forms either chemical or mechanical bonds with the concrete, depending on what type of stain you use.

This is a great weekend do-it-yourself project that can be completed at a very good price. In this hub I am going to show you how to stain concrete floors.

Concrete Staining Guides

Acid Stain Concrete Video
Acid Stain Concrete Video

Juan Romero walks you through all the basic steps for concrete staining, and reveals some of his secrets for amazing looking floors.


Purchase/Rent Your Supplies

The first thing you need to decide is what type of stain you will use. The two types are reactive acid stains and non-reactive water based concrete stains. Acid stains create a deep, rich, and translucent look that gives the look of expensive stone. It is available in earth tones and is considered the classic way to do this type of job.

The non-reactive stains offer a nearly unlimited amount of color choices, but only produce an opaque single-toned look. If your surface has different tones you should go with a non-reactive product, as imperfections will show through with the acid versions.

In addition to the stain you will need to buy the sealer that goes with it. Make sure to use only the brand recommended by the manufacturer of the stain, as this will produce the best result. If doing an interior floor it is usually a good idea to also apply an acrylic floor wax.

Safety is always job #1 for any DIY project, so make sure you take all precautions. This is especially true if you are working with an acid stain. You should wear long pants and sleeves, safety goggles, shoes, and gloves. You may also want to get a fan for ventilation if working in an enclosed area.

To do the preparation you will need some TSP cleaner, a wire brush to remove imperfections, and some quick dry concrete to fix any large cracks. You will also need tape and something to cover the walls with.

The materials you will need to do the actual project include:

  1. 100% plastic sprayer
  2. Large push broom
  3. Wet vac
  4. Rollers and paint tray

This list should get you started, but you may need addition materials based on your own unique project. Before you begin make sure you have all the essential materials, as it can ruin the project if your forget something important.

Make sure to protect your walls from the stain
Make sure to protect your walls from the stain

Preparing the Concrete to Accept the Stain

Many people do not take this step seriously, and it is the difference between a poor final product and one that everyone who sees it will be wowed by. Acid stains produce a translucent look, so all the imperfections in the floor will show through. Minor color variations and hairline cracks can add character to the floor, but anything more than that needs to be repaired.

Non-reactive stains are much more forgiving than acid ones, but you should still do your best to get the surface prepared as best you can.

The floor needs to be cleaned multiple times to ensure all excess residue is removed. Vacuum the floor multiple times and wash it with TSP cleaner. Whatever you do make sure you do not use an acid wash when working with a reactive stain. This prevent the chemical reaction that makes the stain work.

To protect your wall and door frames from getting any stain on them, use tape and some plastic or paper covering to put up a barrier around anything that is not concrete.

Once your floor is in near perfect condition, let it dry overnight.

Applying the Concrete Stain

Now comes the fun part; applying the concrete stain to the floor. Read your manufacturer's directions for preparing the stain, and follow them exactly. There are a few ways you can apply the stain, but an all plastic paint sprayer seems to be the consensus pick for the best.

Ideally, you will have two people for this part of the job. One person will lead by spraying the solution on the floor, while the other follows with a broom and brushes the stain into the concrete. This will certainly leave brush strokes, so the sprayer should go over each area twice before moving on. You want to apply the stain in a typewriter fashion (going left to right then right to left) in order to keep a wet edge. Start in the back and work your way to the front and make sure to not step in the stained areas. This will leave footprints that will be there permanently.

Once you this process is complete you need to check on the directions your stain uses for finishing. When using an acid stain you will most likely have to wash and neutralize the reaction with baking soda a few hours after application.

Putting on the Finishing Touches

The full color will not come out until you apply a sealer to the floor. Once again, check with the directions for your specific stain for how long you must wait before applying sealer. This can easily be applied with the roller and paint tray you already have. It is usually a good idea to apply multiple coats. As soon as this dries you should be able to safely use your floor once again.

For added protection and beauty for your floors, consider using a floor wax. A few layers of this will make your surface look fantastic, while adding a whole other layer of protection. Floor wax will make it even easier to clean and maintain your newly stained concrete floor.

Enjoy Your Beautiful New Floor!

After all that hard you will have something you can really be proud of. It is sure to increase the value of your home, as well as make each day you live there more enjoyable. Now all that is left to do is throw a big party in order to show it off to all your friends and family!

I've included a few videos to give you some more info on how to stain concrete.

How To Stain Concrete Video

Using an Acid Concrete Stain

Photo Credit: Flikr user justin<3sasha

Comments 2 comments

rugsforall profile image

rugsforall 7 years ago

Staining your concrete is a brilliant idea - I think we might just take a look at this for our carport floor. Would certainly be a great way to 'jazz' up a tired area quicky if you are thinking of selling.

Thanks for the great info.

Ganka 7 years ago

Good informative article. What I will add is that the return on investment of this floor is high. With concrete flooring, you don’t have to spend extra on a floor cover. Even if you have to replace the floor, you can just get the new flooring and install it over the old one.

Here is another link that might be useful:

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