How To Stain Concrete?

July 31, 2019

 

 

With the availability and popularity of concrete ever increasing, the variety of trends and available products has also continued to grow. One of the popular trends today is stained concrete flooring. Many homes, retail establishments, and apartment complexes are utilizing this type of flooring as a less expensive, durable, and aesthetically pleasing option. Although wood, carpet, laminate, and tile are expected to stick around, stained concrete is a great alternative to spruce up a home.

 

BENEFITS OF CONCRETE FLOORS:

 

The longevity of concrete is a huge plus when it comes to installing it in a home. Stained and polished concrete floors can last over one hundred years, saving lots of money. The initial installation of concrete is also more economical compared to other flooring options. Depending on the size of the job and finish of the concrete, the cost can range from $5 to $15 per square foot. Also, stained concrete floor maintenance is minimal - just grab a neutral cleaning agent and a mop or try a steam mop.

 

HOW TO STAIN CONCRETE FLOORS:

 

With the tight labor market and busy economy driving the cost up, stained concrete has also become something of a popular DIY home improvement project. Those who have taken on this DIY project say they spent hours and sometimes even weeks doing research on colors, techniques, and watching “how to” videos. Doing ample research will ensure the desired outcome.  

 

The first decision is to decide if an acid-based or a water-based stain is best to accomplish the end goal. It is important to note the pros and cons of both stains before taking making a selection.

 

Acid-Based Stain

Pros:

  • Permanent coloring by through chemical reaction

  • Very durable in high traffic areas

  • Holds up longer than water-based

  • Can be used inside or outside

Cons:

  • Limited color selection – earth tones, blues, greens

  • Less uniform color coverage

  • Stain color can be unpredictable because of age and chemical makeup of the concrete

  • Extra cleaning step before sealing during installation

 

Water-Based Stain

Pros:

  • Large color pallet

  • More uniform color coverage

  • Does not require extra cleaning before sealing during installation

  • Can be used inside or outside

Cons:

  • Less durable than acid-based

  • Can chip, flake, or fade

 

First and foremost, the concrete has to be at least one month old to ensure more accurate coloring. Once the type of stain has been decided and the concrete has cured for at least a month, installation can start. During installation, one must wear a mask, eyewear, and have proper ventilation in the space you are working. When in doubt, read the product labels to ensure safety.

 

Step 1: The room must be clear of all furniture and baseboards. It is best practice to tape up plastic sheeting on the walls. This will protect the walls from stains and marks during the installation.

 

Step 2: Sand the surface of the concrete with a floor sander. If a sander is not readily accessible, it can be rented at a hardware store. Home Depot offers rental equipment for home improvement projects. If the concrete being stained is brand new, this step can be skipped.

 

Step 3: The floor is then cleaned of debris caused by the floor sander and all the stains must be removed from the floor. Stains in the floor can prevent penetration of the stain and therefore cause discoloration. Scrub the floor with some diluted TSP (trisodium phosphate). TSP can be found at local hardware stores and is an important step in preparing the floor to be stained. Follow the instructions on the TSP and allow 24 hours for drying. 

 

Step 4: After the floor is cleaned, replace the plastic sheets on the walls so that no residue captured on them during the cleaning will fall to the floor during the staining.

 

* The rest of the steps are dependent upon stain type.*

During the following steps, it is important to always remember protective gear (i.e. gloves, respirator, and eye protection). When in doubt, read the product labels to ensure safety.

 

ACID-BASED STAIN

 

Step 5: Fill an airless sprayer with the choice of acid-based stain. Depending on preference, a handheld or backpack airless sprayer will do the trick. However, make sure that the sprayer has NO metal parts as the acid can eat away at the metal. Begin spraying the floor in a circular motion and disperse the spray evenly across the surface. Once the first coat is finished, let it dry completely before assessing the color. If the color needs to be darker, spray another layer of stain like previously done and let it dry completely.

 

Step 6: Once the floor achieves the color you are looking for, you need to neutralize it with either a diluted TSP mixture or a ¾ water and ¼ ammonia combo. Let it dry completely before moving to the next step.

 

Step 7: The sealant is then applied with a synthetic roller evenly across the entire floor. Two coats of sealant are suggested for the best results. The floor must be dry before placing any furniture or baseboards back into the space.

 

WATER-BASED STAIN

 

Step 5: Fill an airless sprayer with the choice of water-based stain. Depending on preference, a handheld or backpack airless sprayer is utilized. It needs to be sprayed on the floor in a circular motion and dispersed evenly across the surface. If water-based stain puddles appear, they need to be wiped up with a disposable cloth so that you do not have dark spots. Once you have finished one coat, it has to dry completely before assessing the color. If the color needs to be darker, another layer of stain can be done. Then, it has to dry completely.

 

Step 6: The sealant can be applied with a synthetic roller and rolled evenly on the entire floor. Two coats of sealant is suggested for the best results. The floor has to be dry before placing any furniture or baseboards back into the space.

 

Step 7: It is suggested that a stained concrete floor wax is best to strengthen the color. It can be waxed with either a matte or glossy finish. The wax is sprayed on the floor and rubbed in evenly around the room with a microfiber pad. After it is dry, furniture and baseboards can be placed back into the space. Although concrete maintenance is minimal, if it is a high traffic area, a coat of wax needs to be added to your floor every year.

 

Whether inside or outside, concrete has capabilities of enhancing a home’s visual appeal. The end product created through staining concrete can bring life to a space without compromising functionality or costing an astronomical amount. Remember ample research needs to be done before picking the stain and stain color that will work best.

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