Stained concrete floors, on average, will cost approximately $2 a square foot. Concrete staining is a practical way to finish you concrete floor on a budget. It’s a great solution inside and outside your house.

Concrete stained floors vary in colour depending if you’re using acid or water-based stains. Acid stains usually come in eight hues, mostly subtle earth tone hues like tans, browns, terra cottas, and soft blue-greens. Water-based stains have a much wide spectrum of colours. In this blog we’ll be focusing on acid staining, but will be looking at water-based stains in a later articles.

Prepping The Concrete

Stop and look at the area you want to stain. If there are any cracks or breaks in the concrete, you’ll have to fix this before proceeding.

Cleaning the floor is the most important step when it comes to acid staining. Unlike paints and epoxies, concrete stain soaks into the existing concrete and reacts with the limestone. Oils and contaminants inhibit that process and expose (possibly even enhance) any imperfections that are remaining on and in the surface.

Depending on the floor, extreme cleaning techniques may be necessary in order to get the floor ready for staining

If when assessing the project, you find that the floor isn’t worth cleaning to that existent, you may want to choose another technique for your project.

  1. Begin by sweeping the floor to get rid of any dust and debris. Once swept up, clean the area with water using a spray hose. (You can use a mop and bucket if there’s no way of draining the water). This will get rid of any dust left behind, as well as wet the floor for the next step.
  2. Use a degreaser, a scrub brush and a bucket of water to remove any dirt, grime or grease from the floor. Once you’ve removed as much of the imperfections as you can, spray down the floor once again to ensure the area clean.\
  3. For surface contaminants, such as paint, you may need to use a wire (brass) brush and a chemical remover, such as paint thinner, to remove the imperfections. Once the surface of the concrete is clean of the contaminant, use a palm sander to clean the pores of the concrete where the stubborn stains were.
  4. Once you feel that the area is cleaned, wet the infected area. You’ll know when the area is clean enough when the stain doesn’t appear on the wet concrete.


For more information on how to clean concrete, please visit our webpage on concrete staining projects

Now that all the stains, dirt, and contaminants are removed, it’s time for the final cleaning. Use the degreaser, scrub brush, and bucket to clean the floor a final time. After you’ve cleaned the entire area again, spray down the floor with clean water (Again, a mop and bucket can be used for this step if you prefer) Use either a squeegee or a wet/dry vac to remove any excess water.

After the floor is dry, use plastic and mask any areas you don’t want the stain to be applied, including the walls. Because the stain is applied with a sprayer, be sure the walls are masked at least a foot in height with plastic.

Applying The Stain to the Concrete

Before applying the stain to the entire area, find a discrete area (usually in a corner) to apply a test patch. With a foam brush apply the stain to a small area in a non-distinct pattern. Keep in mind that the colour of the wet stain is no indication of what the final product will look like as the acid has to react in order for the colour to come out. Once the acid as reacted for the manufacturer recommended time, neutralize and clean the test patch. If everything looks ok, continue to stain the prepped area.

Proceed to fill the sprayer with stain. Make sure the nozzle is closed tightly before pumping pressure into the unit. Once full and the unit has pressure in it, use a piece of cardboard and set your spray pattern to a nice even mist

When applying the stain, point the sprayer nozzle straight down to avoid drips and apply the stain in a slightly overlapping circular pattern. This will help avoid a rainbow pattern or lines in the finished product.  Spray a light coat of stain on the floor. Spraying too much at once will create runs and pooling which will affect the final product.

In some cases, when working with an older floor, or wanting to achieve a darker finish, you may want to scrub the stain into the floor with a brush. This will help you achieve a darker even finish with no variance in the stain. Typically, however, in most cases, you want to spray the stain on evenly and just let it soak in without brushing it.

Once the first coat has been applied and is dry, apply a second coat the floor. This will ensure that there is an even coating over the entire surface. It’s also a good idea that when walking on the unneutralized floor to wear spiked shoes or plastic bags on your shoes.

While the acid is reacting, the residue can appear as many different colours; green, yellow, brown, etc. Don’t worry this isn’t an indication of the finished colour.

Neutralizing the Concrete Stain

Once the second coat has been given its proper time to activate, according to the manufacturer’s recommended time, using a combination of baking soda and water in a bucket mop the neutral solution on the floor to neutralize the acid. Make sure to cover the entire floor with the solution.

Use a squeegee or a wet/dry vac and clean the solution off the floor.  Once the excess solution is cleaned off the floor, use a garden hose (or a mop and a bucket of clean water) and spray down the entire area making sure none of the solution is left behind.


Sealing the floor

Once the floor is dry, and all of the neutralized solution is removed from the area, it’s time to seal the floor. To apply the sealant, you can use either a roller, sprayer, or use an applicator. If the surface is rough, it’s recommended that you use a roller to apply the sealer. Apply two to three thin coats of sealer making sure to change direction with every coat. Remember, several thin coats are better than once thick coat. This will ensure no streaks or lines appear after. Let the floor cure for 24hrs before walking on the surface.

There you have it, a beautiful glossy finish that, if taken care of, will last for years to come.


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