Why choose stained concrete?
- Achieve unique decorative effects for a reasonable cost
- Create an infinite array of colors and special effects on both interior and exterior surfaces
- Does more than simply add color; rather than produce a solid, opaque effect like paint or colored coatings, stains permeate the concrete to infuse it with rich, deep, translucent tones. Some stain manufacturers use adjectives such as “antiqued,” “variegated,” or “mottled” to describe the distinctive look
- Even when treated with the same staining product in the same shade, no two concrete floors, walls, or counter tops will look alike due to factors such as the composition and age of the concrete and surface porosity
Can I stain concrete myself?
- When applying stain, using the proper tools and application techniques is vital to achieving good results. Once the stain is down, the color is permanent—there’s no going back. If you have any doubts, hire the services of a professional, especially if you want to incorporate multiple colors and elaborate decorative effects.
Another factor to consider is safety. When working with acid-based chemical stains, it’s important to take the proper precautionary measures because they often contain corrosive components that can cause eye and skin irritation and produce strong odors.
Can all concrete be stained?
- Both acid and water-based stains can be applied to new, old, plain, or integrally colored concrete. They can also be used both indoors and out, on everything from concrete floors and kitchen counter tops to pool decks and driveways.
The most important consideration is the condition of the surface. If the concrete is covered by grime, glues, coatings, curing membranes, or sealers that inhibit the stain from soaking in, the stain won’t be able to penetrate and achieve full color development. There are several steps that can be taken to repair and/or prepare the surface.
What are my color options with stained concrete?
Your color options will vary depending on whether you are using an acid or water-based stain. With acid stains, your color choices will be limited. Most manufacturers offer only eight hues, mostly subtle earth tones, such as tans, browns, terra cottas, and soft blue-greens. Although the basic color palette is sparse, you can mix two or more stain colors before application to achieve a different shade or apply one color over another. You can also produce deeper color effects with a stain by applying two coats.
If you want to go beyond the subtle drama and subdued color palette of acid staining, water-based acrylic stains will give you a wider spectrum of hues to choose from. Most manufacturers offer dozens of standard colors, including black and white and even metallic tints. And in many cases, the different colors can be mixed, like water-based paints, to broaden your options even further.
How do I choose the right stain color?
Color choice is often dictated by personal preference or by a desire to match or complement an existing color scheme, such as staining a concrete floor to mirror the same tones in a wood-paneled wall. Because stain color is permanent, many homeowners opt for neutral tones, such as light tans, browns, grays and greens. Regardless of what stain colors you choose, be aware of the following caveats:
- With acid-based stains, wide color variations are normal. Surfaces will have a mottled, variegated appearance, and these variations will be emphasized when the final coat of sealer is applied.
- With some acid stain colors, what you see in liquid form may not be what you get once the stain has reacted with the concrete surface. The stain may not reveal its true color until it has been allowed to remain on the concrete for several hours or longer. Always apply the stain to a small test area before covering the entire surface.
- Color effects will generally be more intense on new concrete than on older or weathered concrete.
What special effects are possible with stained concrete?
Depending on the color and application techniques used, stained concrete can be made to mimic everything from polished marble to tanned leather to natural stone or even stained wood.
Some of your options include:
- Applying multiple colors of stain, either by layering or blending stain colors
- Using stains in combination with dyes
- Using thicker gelled stains with stencils to create artistic patterns and other decorative effects.
The possibilities are endless and are only limited by your imagination and our artistic flare.
What are the differences between acid stains and water-based stains?
- Acid-based concrete stains
Made up of inorganic metallic salts dissolved in an acid and water solution
Penetrate into the surface and react chemically with the concrete to form a permanent bond
Color they impart is translucent rather than opaque, resulting in deep, rich tones and attractive marbling effects
Non-reactive water-based stains
Typically a blend of acrylic polymers and pigments
Fills the pores of the concrete surface to produce a colored film or coating, ranging from translucent to opaque depending on the product
No chemical reaction takes place, so the color is more consistent
Most products are also low in VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and safer to apply because they are free of solvents and acids
How much does stained concrete cost?
The cost of staining will vary considerably depending on the complexity of the stain application, surface prep requirements, and the size of the project. A basic one-coat application of stain on concrete requiring minimal surface prep will run about $2 to $4 per square foot, while more elaborate staining projects involving multiple colors and special design details can cost $15 per square foot or more due to the time and skill level involved.
Will the color fade?
Because stains penetrate into the concrete surface, their color is durable and long-lasting. When applied to properly prepared concrete, the color will not fade, chip, or peel away.
How do I maintain stained concrete?
Although concrete stain is permanent and won’t flake off like paint, it penetrates only the top layer of the concrete surface and will eventually wear away as the surface is worn by traffic or weather exposure. To prolong stain life, you should protect exterior stained concrete surfaces with a clear sealer and interior floors with a good floor wax. To keep your stained concrete looking its best, you will also need to clean it periodically by dry dust mopping and occasional wet mopping with a neutral-pH cleaner.
- Acid-based concrete stains