How to Stain Concrete

Concrete. It’s clean, durable, holds up well in flood situations, and can even be considered green because of how it takes in and holds heat, uses raw materials so efficiently, and holds up for years without much in the way of maintenance or repair. Unfortunately, there’s still one big negative that bothers a lot of people with concrete floors – it’s not exactly attractive.

how to stain concrete

That’s where concrete staining comes in. By staining your concrete, you can give it some much needed color and style while further protecting the material. How do you do it? Read on!

  1. Use a degreaser to prep it. Before staining, your concrete needs to be cleaned thoroughly by someone who knows how to do it. Otherwise, the stain will more readily show things like spots that are discolored and cracks.
  2. Fix problems – or not. Once you’ve identified any problem areas through cleaning, you can have them patched and use a microfinish overlay to make sure the whole floor looks the same. Alternatively, some people leave cracks and other issues as-is to give their floor personality.
  3. Choose a stain. There are two options – acid and acrylic. Acrylic stains offer more color variety and tend to hold up better in extreme weather conditions, but show imperfections in the floor more readily. Acid stains hide imperfections, but only come in eight colors – though you can mix those colors together for more options. Most contractors recommend acid stain.
  4. Test the stain. Before staining the entire floor, make sure you test it in a small area to confirm that it looks the way you want.
  5. Stain it! Professionals use all kinds of tools to apply the stain – plastic pump sprayers, rollers, mops, squeegees. They’ll choose what they think is best for your floor, which is one good reason to work with a contractor. Another is that they know how to put the stain down so that you don’t end up with any unsightly color marks or streaks.
  6. Neutralizing and making it consistent. If you used an acid stain, it has to be neutralized. Most professionals will do this using a pump sprayer with four parts water and one part ammonia. Whichever stain you chose, any oddities or inconsistencies need to be fixed before it dries, so this is the time to remove them by using a wet cloth to blot the surface.
  7. Put on a sealant. Did you know that using a sealant reduces wear by around 400%? Because of that, this is a step that you can’t forget. It’s a simple two-step process. First you’ll need to use a densifier to penetrate down into the concrete and increase resistance to abrasions while decreasing the material’s permeability. Then you’ll need to apply a stain guard to give the floor protection from stains and make it nice and shiny.

Once you’re done, all you’ll need to do to keep your floor looking great is use soap and water with a mop. Want to learn more about staining concrete? Check out this in-depth how-to guide from KSI Kitchens.

Erin Emanuel