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Tips For How to Stain Concrete Floors

Updated on August 28, 2012

You don't always have to tile, carpet, or hardwood your floors. The new thing is to just stain the concrete that's already there. It's a lot of work, but if done properly, your home will look gorgeous.

If you're thinking that because concrete is a white-ish gray color, that's what you're going to see, you're wrong. You can stain your floors various colors of reds, tans, and browns. There are many designs and patterns that you can put of the floor, and in many cases, people don't even realize that it's nothing more than concrete they're standing on.

The best part is, you can do it yourself if you feel that you have the skills to do it. Otherwise, you can hire a contractor to paint the floors in your home. Either way, you'll be surprised as to the turnout of your floor after staining.

Remember that you want to have plenty of ventilation when using the concrete acid stain; consider a fan to assist in drying after each clean or coat. And, remember that any blemishes, cracks, and stains to the concrete will show after the stain, so do your best in the preparation stage to blend these blemishes.

How to Stain Concrete Floor

Before getting started, cover the walls, wood trim, and metal to protect them from the acid stain.

You need to first remove any curing agents, sealers, paint, wax, or repellents that may be on the floor. As a just in case, because you may not be able to see the curing agents on the floor, you want to go ahead and use a mild acidic detergent to remove any other materials on the floor in order for the stain to cure properly.

You can test the concrete, if you want to, by pouring a glass of water on the floor and let it sit for about 5 minutes. If it is absorbed into the concrete, you're ok, but if it just beads on top, there's an agent on the flooring.

If you're using freshly poured concrete, you want to make sure that you scrub it thoroughly in order to get all of the dust off the concrete.

Fill any cracks and holes carefully, as they will show after the stain has cured. Apply a concrete filler, sand with a 100 grit sandpaper, and brush away the excess dust.

When cleaning the floor, it is easier to get the glue and paint by pouring water and a trisodium phosphate (TST) solution in the room to cover the entire area. Use a green scrub pad to scrape up anything on the concrete. When you've gone over the entire area, use a shop-vac to suck up the extra water.

Citrus Magic is a great solution to use to get off any grease, oil, or anything questionable; dilute the solution with 8 parts water to 1 part Citrus Magic. Scrub and buff the floor, and use the shop-vac to suck up the remaining solution.

Dyna-Blue, mixed at a 2 parts water to 1 part solution mix, is recommended to use next. Let the floor sit in the solution for 5 minutes or until the bubbles have stopped. Scrub and buffer the floor, and clean up the remaining solution.

Wait a day or two in order to ensure that the concrete is fully dried. If you do not wait long enough and the concrete is even the slightest bit damp, it will dilute the stain.

When staining consider walking around with old, but clean socks or booties instead of shoes, so that you don't leave any prints on the floor.

You can use a diamond blade to mark the floor to create patterns or grout lines, generally these marks will define areas that you want a different color stain.

Apply one layer of concrete stain to the floor using a sprayer, holding the nozzle 18-24 inches above the ground. You can use a car wash brush to gently scrub the stain into the concrete. Just remember any brush marks will show.

Let the stain full dry. If you want to add a second coat to make the stain darker, you want to wait until after the first coat has dried. Apply the stains in any desired manner in order to achieve the affect or pattern you're looking for.

After adding any additional coats of stain, wait until the last coat has dried (generally 1-2 hours per layer), and add a neutralizer. Water will generally work fine. Pour water over the floor and light scrub to remove any residue, and shop-vac the remaining water.

Just remember that you want to check the stain instructions as to what neutralizer to use, as a just in case.

Once the floor has dried once again, you want to apply a sealer. Consider a water based or acrylic sealer. It's usually recommended that you use one coat of 20% solid sealer and then a second coat of 30%. The more traffic the area will get, you want to make sure to use a heavier second coat.

After the last coat of sealer has dried, you want to add at least three coats (letting each coat dry before applying the next coat) of a floor finis (Zep High Traffic Floor Finish is recommended).

Benefits of Concrete Floor

  • Appearance: Whether in a retail store, restaurant, or in your house, when people see stained concrete floors, they remember it, and they at least consider it in their own home. Stain concrete floors are gorgeous.
  • Colors: Concrete acid stain comes in a variety of colors, so you can choose a blend of different colors ranging from tans, browns, terra cottas, and soft blue-greens.
  • Customizable: Depending on your tastes and what you want, you can put patterns and different colors on your floors.
  • Durable: Because concrete is one of the most durable materials, your floors will last forever as long as you properly maintain the acid stain on the floor. Concrete floors usually last longer than other floors- wood, carpet, etc.
  • Easy to clean: Concrete floors just need to be swept. You won't have allergens, such as dust and pet dander stuck all over the place, like you would with carpet.
  • Low Maintenance: All you have to do is dust mop and occasionally use a damp mop to the floors in order to keep them up. Depending on how much traffic they get, you may have to bump up waxing from 1-2 times a year to 3-4 times.
  • Passive solar design: Concrete absorbs heat during the day and releases it at night, which makes them perfect a green flooring alternative.


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      Sawitri 3 years ago

      I'm glad it's been a great help, thank you!We did not do too much to the concrete borefe we applied the etcher stuff. We did sweep and do a quick mop over with just some water since it was quite dusty and dirty. Of course once the etcher goes down you will likely be using water to get it up which in a sense is cleaning the floor all over again anyway, haha.I do want to add that I'm not sure about Soycrete's etching/stripping process. As I recall it was quite different from the stuff I purchased at Home Depot in the photo as far as application and the directions. I'd double check with them, they are quite helpful if you call their customer support. I will suggest one thing is try to make sure you get all that white chalky stuff, adhesive, or anything else off the concrete as well as possible. Thankfully after ours was finished we agreed you don't notice the little spots here and there too much, and our floor is quite dark.Also I'd suggest checking out the new post I'm about to put up about putting on the sealant stuff. (If only we knew, lol )