Concrete Staining – A Cost-Effective Way to Enhance and Transform Your Property Surfaces

Concrete Staining is a cost-effective way to enhance and transform your property surfaces. It can be applied to both new and old concrete surfaces, indoors and out.

Concrete Staining

Acid stains are reactive stains that react with the calcium in the concrete to create a variegated, marbled effect. They require proper surface preparation and neutralization.

Concrete stain colors add color to new and existing concrete surfaces. Stains create a natural look with variegated color effects that imitate stone or masonry, but unlike paint, concrete stain penetrates the surface of the concrete and will not fade from UV exposure. Stains come in a wide variety of colors to suit any style or design preference.

Acid stains offer earthy colors, imparting rich hues with a warm, variegated finish. They’re popular on interior concrete floors and outdoor patios to bring life to hardscape projects.

They’re often paired with lighter acid stains, like Desert Amber or Coffee Brown, to add depth and contrast. These stains are also useful for coloring patchy areas or discolored concrete, as they provide opaque color solutions that conceal imperfections and repairs.

Non-reactive water-based stains are becoming increasingly popular because of their ease of use and predictable results. They work essentially like water color paint, using water to carry pigment and deposit it in the concrete’s pores. This allows for a wider range of hues than acid stains and is less labor intensive.

However, they are not as durable and must be sealed to maintain their vibrant appearance. Additionally, they can wash out quickly if left unsealed on exterior concrete.

For these reasons, we recommend choosing a high-quality concrete dye instead of a water-based stain for new or repaired concrete. Applied heavy and heavily, these dyes can mimic the look of stained concrete while outperforming traditional paint.

Choose a concrete stain color that is appropriate for the project. Before applying, test the concrete to ensure it’s ready for staining by pouring a small amount of water on the surface. If the water soaks into the concrete within 5 minutes, it’s ready to be colored.

If the water doesn’t absorb, the concrete must be etched prior to staining. Brickform offers several etching products to prepare concrete for staining, including CitrusEtch and Concrete Etcher. Once the concrete has been etched, select an acid-resistant stain. For an easier application process, choose a gel-based stain such as DecoGel or ColorWave. These stains are low VOC and odorless and work well on machine troweled and smooth concrete, but they also thrive on lightly textured surfaces.

Stain Types

There are a number of options available for coloring concrete, from water-based stain to acid and penetrating stains. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Before choosing a concrete stain color, it’s important to consider the type of surface and environment in which the stained concrete will be used. Some stains may require more maintenance than others, and some have different cleaning requirements. It’s also important to evaluate the level of durability and protection the stain provides.

Penetrating stains, which are available in a wide range of colors, work well for interior concrete floors because they seal the surface and protect it from moisture and abrasion. They can be applied using a brush, roller or sprayer and typically dry quickly. Unlike film-forming stains, penetrating concrete stains do not flake or peel and are low in VOCs.

Acid stains are a popular choice for colorizing concrete because they penetrate and react chemically with the concrete, creating natural color variations and mottling effects. They are available in a broad range of earth tones from warm terra cottas to cool blue greens and can be applied to both new and old concrete surfaces, as long as the surface is properly prepared. Acid stains, however, do not hide surface blemishes or imperfections and can chip easily, so proper surface preparation is critical.

Another popular option for staining concrete is the use of water-based stains, which offer a full spectrum of colors and are UV stable. They are easier to apply than acid stains and dry much faster, but they do not have the same depth of color as acid stains or the ability to cover surface blemishes. They can be applied to both new and existing concrete, but require proper surface preparation as per the manufacturer’s guidelines.

The most durable of the concrete stain options is the acid-wash technique, which uses hydrochloric or phosphoric acid to etch the surface of the concrete, allowing the color to deeply penetrate into the concrete pores. This process is very labor intensive and requires specialized equipment and safety measures, but it can create a truly unique and colorful finish for concrete floors.

Staining Process

Staining concrete is a great way to add a professional and aesthetically pleasing look to a building or concrete surface. It is a relatively easy and affordable project for contractors, but it requires a little bit of knowledge about the staining process and proper preparation to achieve lasting results. Staining can be done on new or old concrete, and it can create a variety of looks from deep earth tones to variegated color with marbling effects.

Before starting a staining job, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s directions for proper surface preparation and application. Different chemical stains have their own requirements for a clean surface and different coverage rates. For example, acid stains require a pH neutralizing solution after the stain has been applied to the concrete. The neutralizing solution must be thoroughly rubbed into the surface of the concrete and scrubbed in order to completely neutralize the acid stain.

Water-based stains are much easier to use and offer a wide range of color options. These stains work by filling the pores in the concrete with acrylic polymers and pigments. They can be used to produce translucent or opaque finishes, depending on the amount of colorant that is added. The advantage of using a water-based stain is that the concrete can be sealed with a regular industrial concrete sealer to help protect the stain and improve durability.

Both acid stains and water-based stains must be thoroughly rinsed before the next coat is applied. This is especially crucial after an acid stain has been used. The concrete needs to be rinsed until the water runs clear. It is also important to note that the concrete must be fully dry before applying another coat of stain. If the concrete is not fully dry, it may absorb the stain unevenly and cause an undesirable result.

It is a good idea to mask off areas around doors and walls to prevent accidental staining. This is particularly important when using an acid stain, as it will be difficult to remove any drips that may occur. It is also recommended that you mask off sections of the floor that are not going to be stained. This will allow you to keep the stain away from areas that you may want to lighten or highlight with a different color later.

Staining Options

A wide range of color options exist for concrete staining, allowing you to create the exact look and feel that you are going for. The type of stain you choose depends on your desired appearance and the durability requirements for the surface.

Acid-based chemical stains are renowned for their ability to produce mottled effects and permanent hues. Their transparent nature allows the natural, earthy tones of the underlying concrete to peek through, creating unique character and depth. However, this method of staining is best suited for indoor surfaces as it does not hold up to UV rays and will fade over time.

Water-based stains are a more versatile and user-friendly option for concrete coloring. Unlike acid stains, these formulas don’t use a chemical reaction with the concrete; instead they fill the pores of the concrete and provide a solid color. They are available in a full spectrum of hues and can be mixed to broaden the color selection. Water-based stains can also be applied with a variety of spraying methods including airless sprayers, HVLP sprayers, production guns and a traditional paint roller or brush.

While many consider water-based staining a DIY project, it is recommended that you contact a professional concrete contractor to ensure the proper preparation of the surface and application process. Carefully mask off surrounding areas to avoid unintentional staining and always apply a test sample of the stain to a small, inconspicuous area before applying it to the entire surface.

Stain colors tend to appear darker when wet and will lighten slightly as they dry. Once the stain has cured, it is recommended that you seal it to protect the color and increase its durability.

The staining process can take between 24 and 72 hours, so it is best to plan for this to be a weekend project. Much of the time is spent waiting for the stain and sealant to dry, so this is a great opportunity to relax and enjoy your beautiful new concrete surface! For the best results, choose a stain that is formulated for your intended use. Surfaces that are subject to heavy foot or vehicular traffic, or exposed to outdoor elements should be sealed with a product that provides extra durability and protection.