Concrete Staining – The Surface Makeover

Concrete Staining is unique! Two concrete floors treated with the same staining product will look different because this process depends on factors such as concrete porosity, moisture content and age, among others, which gives Concrete Staining a characteristic appearance that mimics natural stone or marble. In essence, it will permeate the concrete to give it variegated and translucent tones beyond simply adding color.

Concrete Staining is done using Acid Stains, which contains phosphoric acid and inorganic metallic salts. Acid works to open pores in the concrete surface, allowing the salts to react with the concrete´s hydrated lime content to produce the desired color. Acid Stains rely on chemical reactions to color the concrete’s surface, which is why you will obtain unique results based on concrete´s composition (for example, concrete elements with high cement content will yield to more intense colors).

With-Acid-Stains-you-wont- find-many-colors-in-the-market-for-Concrete-Staining

In such a way, the principal advantage of using Acid Stains is the irregular, translucent pigmentation pattern it gives to the finished surface – a very characteristic look. The drawback: you won’t find many colors in the market for your Concrete Staining, as they come mostly in light earth tones (brown, tan, terracotta), though some manufacturers provide light greens and blues.

Acid Stains pose health hazards as they may contain chlorides and generally corrosive substances that can cause irritation of the eyes and skin. It´s necessary to use adequate protective equipment during application and carefully read material handling instructions. These substances also require acid-resistant tools which will certainly increase total cost of your Concrete Staining project.


If your Concrete Surface Makeover is not intended to obtain the specific look that Acid Stains offer and, instead, you are looking for uniformity, opaqueness and a broader range of colors, then your Concrete Staining must be done with Water-Based Stains.

Water-Based Stains penetrate the concrete’s surface to produce a more consistent color, since it is non-dependant on Acid-Concrete reactions. Different colors can be easily mixed (as you would do with regular water-based paints) to produce your preferred color.

Unlike Acid Stains, Water-Based Stains do not protect the concrete surface from abrasion, chemicals, or UV exposure, so it’s recommended that you apply an additional protection using a Concrete Sealer, especially on outdoor concretes. Furthermore, your best choice for interior surfaces or places without proper ventilation should be Water-Based Stains as they do not pose health hazards or come with intolerable odors and toxic fumes.

Whether you choose Acid or Water-Based Stains for your Concrete Staining, you should be aware that each product, based on its properties, will require different methods of surface preparation. For example, most Water-Based products require a rough (acid-washed) surface in order to ensure adequate adhesion to existing concrete, whereas concrete surfaces for Acid-Based products can simply be cleaned using a diluted organic degreaser.

Finally, in the case you wish to do Concrete Staining by yourself, you will find in the market and for less than $250 a Stain DIY (Do-it-yourself) Kit, which includes not only the Stain product itself but also Concrete Sealer, Organic Degreaser, How-to instructions, Sprayer, Safety materials (gloves, goggles, masks) and everything you need to cover up to 200 sq. ft.

What are you waiting to begin your Concrete Surface Makeover? Go for it!

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