Choosing a concrete dye over a concrete stain

Choosing a concrete dye over a concrete stain


Are you considering decorating your concrete floor but need help deciding on colors? You may be stuck between two options and can’t make a decision.

To address these concerns, we must delve into the products’ specifics and functionality. One product may work better in certain situations than others, while it may not perform as well in some cases.

Now, I must warn you that we have already picked a side here, as acid stains have been around for a long time. Acid and other stains are a good product as well.

Still, one thing they cannot do is create many different colors, as it’s a chemical reaction. It needs help from other staining materials to provide more colors.

Mixing and testing different colors can be a lot of fun. It’s like being a kid again and playing scientist with your favorite colors. You can take two or more colors and create something unique, hopefully without ending up with a dark brownish mix.

By experimenting with concrete dyes, you can combine a little scientist’s skills with a professional bartender’s techniques. And when you add the eye of an accomplished artist as a final touch, you can create the exact look you’re going for in your newly poured concrete patio.

How concrete stains and dyes work

While stains undergo a chemical reaction when they mix with the calcium hydroxide in concrete to produce different colors, concrete dyes remain neutral and do not react to the concrete. They work by penetrating through the porous surface of the concrete and filling the space with color.

The tiny particles that comprise dyes can get between the cracks and microscopic spaces in concrete far more effectively than the relatively large particles that make up chemical or acrylic stains.

Penetrating stains work a little bit in the same fashion as dyes do. Acid stains react with the minerals in the concrete surface to create the colors you see. For that reason, to see how concrete acid stain is on your floor, you must make a test sample before making the whole floor.

Otherwise, there might be disappointments.

Pros of concrete dyes

Concrete dye colors, unlike stains, allow the person working with the dyes complete flexibility in blending colors and achieving interesting patinas on concrete surfaces. They can be used on both flat concrete surfaces as well as on stamped or etched concrete.

While dyes used to be generally produced in only about a dozen primary colors, there are a good amount of ready mixes these days. For those who want to DIY, armed with a good knowledge of the color wheel, an artistically gifted person can create every color they can imagine.

You only need to blend the colors with the help of the color wheel.

Concrete dyes react as much as one would expect when mixing oil paints or watercolors. Computer matching systems can replicate any color of paint one might want to match.

The secret to mixing concrete dyes is to know what combination of colors will produce a new color and how intense that color will be.

Concrete dyes are easy to work with and require minimal cleanup after completion. They are either water-based or come in a solvent-based formulation. Water-based dyes produce more exciting patterns, striations, and a marbling effect. At the same time, stains are typically used to create a single, solid color.

The advantage of a concrete dye is that it can be mixed on-site and matched precisely to the surface intended to enhance. If one wants to create an authentic grey fieldstone look on their stamped concrete patio, a suitable dye would be superior to a stain.

The last good thing about dyes is that if you use water-based dyes, you can dye and use sealant on the same day. This will shorten the time you need to take to give your concrete floor a new look.

DIY concrete dye can be anything

Cons of concrete dyes

There are some negative aspects to using dyes instead of stains. First, dyes do not hold up well to ultra-violet light. They, therefore, should be limited to indoor use or areas that are not significantly exposed to direct sunlight.

One way to fight this would be using sealants outdoors, and why not indoors?

Another thing is the dyes that use acetone as a solvent; it can be a fire risk, and it is not good to breathe either. If you use it, you need to take measures against it.

Concrete dyes also do not hide blemishes or cracks. If your concrete is cracked and you apply a dye, you will get a different colored crack. If you have cracks on your floor, I have another article about fixing them here.

Finally, dyes are transparent; once they are applied and allowed to dry, they are hard to change. Some staining and other things can be done to them after, but that would be a whole new thing to consider.

So, it is always essential to test the product before you apply it to the entire surface.

That being said, it is essential to be accurate in blending the correct proportions of each color. While many artists can mix dyes by sight and adjust as they go along, others rely on exact formulas.

The most creative people can combine colors by sight and achieve fantastic results.


Suppose you know how to mix colors and confidently select the right color for a particular application. In that case, dyes can be a good option. They dry quickly and can reduce work time by up to 50% compared to stains or other concrete treatments.

When using concrete dye, it is essential to first test it on a small, inconspicuous concrete area. If it looks good, you can then apply it to the rest of your project.

Preparing the area first is always a good idea when working with paints, stains, dyes, or other materials. Ensure it is clean and free of distracting items, such as furniture.

Once the area is clean and ready, covering anything you don’t want to dye to protect it is also a good idea.

Once you’ve taken care of these things, you’re ready to continue with the job.