How to stain concrete floors at home

How to stain concrete floors at home

The only thing more attractive than the final product of your stained concrete floor is the amount it will cost to get done. Concrete stain costs a fraction of the amount that other flooring choices like carpeting and hardwood floors would.

In fact, if you do it yourself you can get all your materials for only $.50-$1.00 per sq/ft. If you do not want to do your concrete staining project yourself you can hire a professional to do a basic job for $2-$4 per sq/ft, while a more intricate concrete stain design will cost anywhere from $4-$10. The price goes up the more details you want as the workload is higher.

If you have ever done any other DIY project then you will be able to easily handle concrete staining. If you are not doing any highly detailed designs with multiple stain colors, doing the concrete staining yourself makes the most sense.

When doing it yourself, some the other concrete stain costs will include purchasing or renting any of the equipment needed to complete the job.

Below in this guide, I have a full checklist of supplies needed. All of the items are very inexpensive, and you can rent what you don’t have quite cheaply.

Compared to other DIY projects the cost of concrete staining is extremely low. Your guests or customers will think you spent tens of thousands of dollars to get that beautiful stained concrete look.

In the first part of this series about how to stain concrete floors, we showed you step-by-step how to get your concrete floor ready to accept the acid concrete stain. Now we finally get to the fun part; how to apply acid stain to concrete floors.

Concrete staining supply list

Before you start your stained concrete project, you must have all the necessary concrete staining supplies. The floor gets its color from the stain via a chemical reaction between the acid and the minerals in your cement.

This means that you cannot put the acid stain down, realize you’re missing a key supply, then just put the project on pause while you get it.

You should make a list of all necessary concrete staining supplies and cross them off of a check list.

The easiest way to do this is go step-by-step on how to apply concrete stain and write down any material you might use for each step. It is also a good idea to mark down how much it will cost to get items you do not have so you can get an idea of the total concrete staining costs.

You can start with my list of concrete staining materials and add on any other that may apply to your individual job.

Concrete Staining Supplies Check List

Self protection:

  • Long sleeve pants and shirt
  • Protective eyewear
  • Face mask
  • Rubber boots
  • Rubber gloves

Cleaning:

  • Scraper
  • Concrete degreaser or other cleaning solutions to get the dirt off
  • Wire brush

Fixing:

  • Quick-dry cement
  • Protecting surroundings from acid:
  • Painters tape
  • Plastic covering

Staining:

  • All plastic pump sprayer that can handle acid (or paintbrush or paint roller)
  • Push broom
  • Acid concrete stain

Sealing and waxing:

  • Paint tray and roller
  • Sealer

Every acid staining project is unique, so you may need to add or subtract items from this list. The most important part is that you make sure you have all the essential concrete staining supplies before you begin.

3 Acid Stain Concrete Application Techniques

Before you start you should know that there are many ways to achieve the same goal. Most people seem to prefer pump sprayer, but there are other options if you want to give them a try.

That being said, there are three different acid stain concrete application techniques that can be utilized to apply the stain to your concrete for best results.

One way is to spray it directly onto your floor as mentioned before. Another way is to use a paintbrush to apply it. The third is the last technique and it is done by rolling it on with a long-handled paint roller.

All of these techniques for applying the acid to the flooring have their own benefits.

Spraying

One technique to apply a concrete acid stain is by using a sprayer. However, this can only be done if the stain is of a thin-enough consistency to easily spray.

If this is indeed the case, here are a few tips to be aware of before spraying. First, you want to be sure that the sprayer you use has no metal parts.

This is because the acid in the solution easily eats away at the metal and distorts the actual color of the concrete. You also want to use a sprayer that has a circular tip so that the stain covers the surface evenly.

To use, simply spray the stain in a left-to-right pattern and then again in a right-to-left. Someone should be following behind the sprayer with a stiff brush, scrubbing the stain into the concrete so that it will penetrate well.

If desired, you can repeat the spraying process after the initial coat has been scrubbed in. This will ensure even results.

Paintbrush

Another way to apply stain to concrete is by using a paintbrush. This technique is really most appropriate on small projects.

The issue to be careful with this technique is that you want to minimize brush marks as much as possible. This effect is generally considered undesirable and can be avoided by spraying on another coat of stain after the initial coat.

Paint roller

The third and easiest way to apply this coloring to concrete is by using a long-handled paint roller. Again, be sure that your roller-strokes overlap so that there are no obvious stroke marks.

If desired, you can always repeat the process, moving the roller diagonally to the first coat so that maximum area is covered.

Most concrete staining professionals add a bit of water to the solution to lighten up the color just a little. You, too, can do this.

Either add it to the solution or spray the surface of the concrete with a bit of water after you have applied the stain. Both of these methods will help lighten the color of the stain in your concrete.

Other ways are possible too

These are only a few ways that you can apply color to your own cement floor.

Remember, the things you should definitely watch out for include the following:

  • Make sure that the concrete is dry enough before trying to color it.
  • Whatever method you use, try to eliminate the brush marks or spray pattern as much as possible for a truly professional look.
  • If your experiment patch of concrete turned out too dark, use a little water to lighten the coloring.

These techniques will all help you to turn out a professional looking floor that you will be proud of.

Stained concrete floors outdoor are done with the same technique

How to stain concrete floors DIY style

One thing you should remember is that start only when you have a clean and dry surface. There are some guides here for removing different stains and once you’re done, you’re ready to go. Rust and tar and moss and tire marks are here.

Fixing cracks on concrete is here, same things work inside and outside. Just don’t play with water inside as you don’t want that trouble, use wet/dry vac to get the dust and dirt of there with good filter.

The other thing you should remember before you get started is that you are going to be working with a low strength acid. It is not very dangerous, but you need to protect your arms, legs, and especially your eyes. Protection from the supply list should be enough.

You should also wear a face mask so you do not inhale the fumes. It can be easy to forget when you work, but sometimes fumes can cause annoying reactions and since they are easy to prevent, why not.

When picking out clothes to wear for the job do not go with anything you are very fond of, because there will likely be some damage done to those items.

First dilute the acid

Applying the stain to your concrete floor is actually the easiest aspect of this type of project. You should dilute your acid concrete stain with water, using a 1:1 ratio. Like in high school, add first the acid and then the water so you won’t get burned.

I like to mix straight to the pump sprayer, but you can use bucket as well. Whatever feels easier.

How to apply concrete stain

Ideally, the application process should be a two-person job. One person will spray on the concrete stain, while the other follows behind with a broom to scrub in the solution.

You can also use other techniques from before, but you have to keep the idea behind these instructions in mind.

When applying the concrete stain it will make life much easier (and get better results) if you apply it using a systematic approach. Start at the back of your area.

Since you do not want the edges to dry you should go end to end in a “typewriter” fashion. This simply means that you start at the left side of the room, work your way to the right side of the room, and start the next “level” working from the right side to the left.

The person controlling the sprayer will spray on the solution while the person controlling the broom follows behind scrubbing it into the concrete.

Fade the brush strokes

The broom is going to leave brush strokes, so once you get halfway done with your current length the sprayer should go back over that area and apply a second coat.

Doing this will get rid of any trail or brush strokes, and give you a natural and consistent look.

Make sure to always go over each area with a second coat to remove the marks the broom leaves behind. Repeat this process until you stain all of the concrete.

Once you are finished you need to let the area dry. The amount of time will vary depending on which brand of concrete stain you use.

Neutralizing acid stain

After the proper reaction time you will want to clean the floor with a mixture of baking soda and water.

This will help with neutralizing acid stain (this just means it will stop the reaction) and will remove any residue that might still be on your newly stained concrete floor.

One person should go over the floor completely with a mop and bucket (filled with the baking soda and water solution), while the other follows behind with a wet vac to suck up all the dirty water.

Avoid stepping on the un-neutralized area

It is very important that neither people step on the un-neutralized area, as this could leave footprints on the floor. Let this dry for a bit and clean the floor 1-2 more times for best results.

You will notice that when the floor dries it will look a bit chalky. Do not worry about this as the floor will only reach its full potential after the sealer is added.

After this step is finished, your work for the day is done. You need to let the stained concrete floor dry fully overnight. It is best to use fans to ensure the floor is dry before coming back tomorrow and apply the sealer.

Apply the sealer

The sealer should be very easy to put on. The most important part is that you use a sealer that is meant to work hand in hand with your brand of concrete stain.

Put the sealer in a paint pan and roll it onto your floor. Allow it to fully dry (read the manufacturer’s label for drying time) and apply a second coat.

After the first coat is on you will notice that the colors of your floor are now much richer and fuller, this is the stained concrete effect that you have been working so hard to get.

Once the final coat of the sealer is completely dry it is now safe to walk on and return furniture to the room.

If you want an additional level of protection for the stained concrete, as well as making it easier to clean, it is recommended that you add 3-4 coats of a floor finish. The floor finish is a wax that adds another layer of protection to your stained concrete floor while making it look great and allowing for easy cleanups.

The floor finish applies easily, just spill it over the floor and spread it around with an applicator. Let each coat dry for about an hour before you put on the next one.

Conclusion

Now that you know how to stain concrete floors it’s time to get to work. This is an easy, affordable, and effective way to turn those regular concrete floors into something you can be proud to show other people.

The staining process in itself is a systematic process. If you follow the “typewriter” technique and don’t let the acid stain dry too quickly, you’re sure have good stain.

After that remember to clean it well and neutralize so the leftover acid won’t affect the concrete sealer. Then it should be good.

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