How to stain previously carpeted concrete floor

How to stain previously carpeted concrete floor

Do you have carpet floors, but you feel like it’s time to change them for something else? Or maybe you have just removed your carpets and the concrete looks surprisingly good and is in good condition?

If these questions seem familiar read on further. Here is a guide on how you can stain previously carpeted concrete floors. It’s a general guide and should work on normal concrete floors

Preparing your carpeted concrete floor for staining

If you have a carpet on your concrete floor and want to get rid of it, you might be considering staining as an option. There are two things that might slow your project down a bit depending on how the carpet is attached to the floor. First, if it’s held down with tack strips they will leave small holes when removed.

Secondly, if it’s glued to the concrete it might take some heavy work to get it done. There may be glue completely covering the floor or it may just be little spots on the concrete around the floor. So basically it’s just two problems to deal with.

No need to worry, I have some quick and easy solutions to both these issues. Let’s first address the situation of the tack strips because this seems to be the installation of carpet that most folks have.

Fixing the tack strips

Removing the tack strips is not that hard as you can use just the claw end of a hammer but you may want to use a flat-sided nail puller also. A hammer that has a straight claw is easier to use for this application as you can use another hammer to tap it under the tack strips and then just gently pry it up.

When all of the tack strips have been taken up you will find that you will probably have small holes all the way around the room. This perfectly normal, the next step is to brush out the holes and make sure they are clean and dry. You can use a vacuum as well or a tire air pump to get the dust off the holes.

You will need to purchase a bucket of an Anchoring Cement (hydraulic cement) and a bottle of a bonding agent. Now you will need to dilute the bonding agent 1 to 1 with water, then use a small brush and coat the holes with the bonding agent and let the bonding agent dry.

This diluted solution will penetrate into the pores of the concrete better than just applying the bonding agent straight.

After the bonding agent has dried mix the anchoring cement to a pancake batter consistency and apply another coat of bonding agent to the hole and fill with the anchoring cement. Use a trowel or plastic putty knife to scrape off the top to make it level with the concrete.

The next day use a drywall sand screen to “sand” the surface and smooth it off. These “repaired” areas probably will not stain exactly the same as the rest of your floor. This is something you can take into consideration when staining. You can use acrylic paints to faux paint the spots later.

This may be against what you may have already read about putting in the bonding agent. Some say put in the bonding agent and then immediately fill the holes with the anchoring cement.

Over the past decade of experimenting with this procedure, we have found that diluting the bonding agent and then applying a second coat before filling the holes with anchoring cement works better in keeping the cement in the holes long term. In fact, I have never heard so far that a concrete patch would have come off.

Removing glue from concrete before staining can be done with glue remover

How to get the glue off the concrete

Next, let’s move on to address the glue on the floor if there is any. There are several products on the market that can do a very good job in removing the glue. Just look up the internet or your hardware store for commercial glue remover and it should do the job.

After using the product of your choice to remove the glue from your floor it is recommended that you scrub the floor with a buffer (floor maintainer) and black pad.

It would also be advisable to use a sand screen under the black pad as an extra measure to ensure that all the glue has been removed from the floor and will not act as a “resist” to the stain that you are planning to apply.

Staining the concrete

Now, with the holes fixed or glue removed, you are ready for staining. I have some guides here to help you get started. Also if you are considering other options, some can be found on this site like dyeing.

I’ll give staining a fast run through here as well. There are multiple types of stains to choose from. Acid stains react with the minerals in the concrete and the colors are results of chemical reactions.

Other stains either penetrate the porous surface or make a film on the surface like sealers. All of these will work for this project so you just need to choose what you like.

For beginners, I’d recommend water-based stains as they are safer to use. But you can do others as well with proper preparation.

Start from clean floor

Let us assume your floor is now vacuumed and clean. You can spread the stain in multiple ways.

Remember to protect the walls

Most common might be spraying the stain and let us go that way as well. First, cover your walls with plastic before you begin in the room.

Spray or use some other method to spread the stain

After that, you have to get a pressure pump sprayer for the stain, pour it in and pump some pressure. Next, you will start from the end of the room and spray the stain on the floor in a typewriter fashion.

Start from left and go to the right and when you get to the end, back to left and so on. Move towards the door and be sure not to stain yourself into a corner.

Read the manufacturer’s information on how long the stain needs to be on the floor before you can stain it again like you most probably will.

Seal the surface

After you’re done, you still need to seal the surface with a sealer of your choice. You can use a spray to spread that as well or my favorite, the paint roller.


I know this was simplified guide, but it’s here to give an idea. You can look up more staining guides on this website from the search function. There are more detailed guides here.

It’s important to remember that acid stains have limited use as you will eventually run out of minerals on the surface. Some other things might also affect the process so it’s considered more difficult.

Water-based products are always easier to approach. As stated before, I’d advise starting with these.

Also before you start make a test piece somewhere so you know the stain is something that you want. If it turns out you don’t like it it’s still easy to change direction.

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