How to stain a concrete patio

How to stain a concrete patio


When it comes to enjoying your patio, some like them to be plain functional, and others like to have them decorative. I belong to a bit of both; I want it to look nice, but the experience is more important for me.

No matter how we feel about it, there comes a time for every patio when it’s time to upgrade its looks. The old surface might be dirty or too weathered to enjoy anymore.

You’re here because you’re probably looking for options that aren’t too cost-heavy and might have stumbled over concrete staining. Look no further; here is a light walkthrough for those who wish to stain old or new concrete.

It’s good to note that the entire procedure for staining concrete patio jobs is a detailed and lengthy process that takes several days to complete. Good step-by-step instructions are crucial, from the prep process to the actual staining to letting it cure.

Such instructions are very detailed, but I’ll try to describe the process as best as possible.

How to make a DIY stained concrete patio

So when it comes to DIY projects, they should begin with planning and making a good shopping list. You want to have everything you need at hand so you don’t have to stop the project to go shopping.

When you shop for products as a beginner, get the whole set that goes well together. There are ready-made kits on the market; if it comes from a trustworthy manufacturer, every product in the kit should work well.

You can also manage without a kit; get the key ingredients together. At the kit, there should be a few things.

  1. Concrete cleaner/degreaser
  2. Etching solution
  3. Concrete Stain
  4. Stain neutralizer
  5. Concrete sealer

So try to get concrete washing supplies, concrete staining acid, and the product used to neutralize and seal it from the same manufacturer. High-quality products should have instructions and info on the products that can be used with them from the same product family.

That way, you don’t have to guess how much to use different products, but you can read from the manufacturer’s label.

Other things you might need;

  • Brush for the concrete cleaner/degreaser. You might need to check what cleaner works best with your floor and choose tools accordingly.
  • Safety goggles and gloves so you won’t get burned by acid.
  • A power washer might be needed, but not something powerful enough to draw on the surface. You don’t want to leave marks, just clean.
  • Tape and other protection to protect metal surfaces from the stain.
  • A sprayer that can handle the acid and has the correct size for your floor. I don’t particularly appreciate filling it out too many times.
  • Brush for the neutralizing product. Concrete is porous, and you need to neutralize the acid well, so there won’t be unwanted staining.
  • Sprayer or roller for the sealer

These are the few things that come to mind. There might be other things you need to consider that I can’t think of. Consider what you’re going to do; if you feel something is off, take measures against it.

Begin with cleaning the concrete

First, of course, you must prepare the concrete for staining.

Do this by scrubbing the entire surface following the instructions of the cleaning product that you’ve chosen for your surface. There are alkaline cleaners for oil and grease, acidic for stains and such, pH-neutral for mild dirt, etc.

I’d approach this by looking at what problem my concrete surface has and searching the internet for proper cleaner. Then follow the instructions of the product.

For applying the cleaner, you can use a stiff brush and wash it away with a garden hose or, if needed, a pressure washer that has something to adjust the power so you won’t ruin the surface.

I have a guide for those who have specific kinds of dirt, like rust or moss. Here is a guide for glue, and here is another one for graffiti, grease, and gum.

This should get off to a good start with all the grime, dirt, and debris. If you have grease stains, now is the time to bring out the degreaser and the power washer to lift it right out of the concrete.

It is essential to get rid of as many stains and oil spots as possible before staining your concrete patio because any and all imperfections will show through the stain on the finished product.

Once your concrete is as spotless as you can make it, you can proceed to the next step of preparation.

When the concrete is cleaned, use an etching solution to open up the pores of the concrete. Follow the instructions on the bottle to mix it with water.

It will help the stain to work better. You need to swipe the floor after if it leaves some residue behind.

The stain won’t work on rocks/aggregates or surfaces that are pressure washed a few times too many, so it’s good to keep the cleaning process moderate.

How to stain concrete patio floor after cleaning

Application of concrete stain

You must let the cleaned concrete dry for at least forty-eight hours before applying the stain itself. Also, once the concrete has dried, sweep off all the cement powder left on the surface.

To apply the stain, use the sprayer you got for the acid. You can move in a “typewriter” way to systematically stain the floor or use a brush to mix and spread the pattern.

If you plan to do a second coat of the stain (this, in many cases, makes the color darker), wait twenty-four hours before applying the next coat.

You can apply the stain in whatever pattern you wish, such as wavy lines, swirls, or brush strokes.

How it is applied is totally up to your creativity–the only things that you must ensure are:

  • that the stain is evenly applied
  • that the entire surface is covered with stain.

Alternatively, a pump sprayer can apply the acid to the surface. Just be sure there are no metal parts so that it won’t affect the color of the stain.

Use neutralizer with water

Before applying the sealer, wash the patio with a neutralizer mixed with water. It will neutralize the acid on the surface so it won’t affect the sealer on top of it. Alkaline soap and ammonia can also be used.

The important part is that it gets done, so doing the floor so far is worth all the effort.

Proceed to scrub the surface. Prepare to do it a few times to be sure it’s neutralized and after that, wash the surface clean. If your patio can’t be washed easily, you can use a wet vacuum also to get the soda off or a traditional mop and bucket.

Apply the concrete sealer

After the concrete has been neutralized and thoroughly dried, and you’re happy with the results; it’s time to apply the sealer.

Now you should apply a few layers of concrete sealer on the patio. Concrete is porous, and acid doesn’t help in that sense, so it’s good to seal it is more resistant to weather and dirt.

You can use a pump sprayer or paint roller to apply it. A few thin layers is better than one wet as they can become slippery.

Here you can do it with the “typewriter” tactic again, no matter which tool you use to spread it. Start from one end of the patio and spread it row after row so that it doesn’t get too dry before you start from the beginning.

Also, depending on the layout of the patio, don’t seal yourself into a corner.


Concrete staining can be a tremendous job that can easily overwhelm any do-it-yourself homeowner. That’s why it’s good to break the process into smaller steps, so it’s easier to handle.

By simply breaking it down into steps and planning the time necessary to accomplish the job, you can easily tackle that concrete to give it color and protection for years to come.

In addition, this project will also give your home additional value as it adds beauty and character to whatever living space it is in. Staining an old concrete patio can be a great way to update your house and raise its curb appeal.

With big projects like this, planning and preparing all the steps is essential before you begin. I can tell you it’s always annoying if you have to go to the hardware store to get more supplies in the middle of the job.