How To Stain Concrete Floors

How To Stain Concrete Floors


Applying concrete stain is not difficult or expensive. What if I told you that you could take that ugly, cold, gray garage floor or any other surface and turn it into a work of art that gets praise from friends, family, or customers?

Epoxy flooring is one alternative for a garage floor coating, but concrete stain is a more viable, long term solution over paint or epoxy.

What if I also told you the cost of applying the stain yourself is less than $.50 per sq/ft? By showing you how to stain concrete floors, I am going to show you a simple and inexpensive way to turn an eyesore into a beautiful masterpiece. With concrete stain, you can have the durability and the ease of cleaning that concrete is known for, with the look of stone or marble.

The name “stained concrete” can give off the wrong impression on how the whole process works. You are not actually staining the flooring, but you are using a mixture of acid, metallic salts, and other materials to cause a chemical reaction that changes the composition (and color) of the concrete. Beware of imitators that claim to be these acid-based products but are really just film. These films are like epoxy flooring and will not last as long or look as good as a legitimate stain.

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The first part of this staining guide is going to cover everything you need to do get your surface ready. This includes getting your materials and equipment, testing out the color, fixing imperfections, and washing the area.

Before you get your project started, you need to have all the necessary materials for the job. Most of these items can be purchased or rented at affordable prices.

Protective Wear

Protection for eyes, mouth, feet, arms, and legs. We are going to be using a mild acid here, so it is necessary to have the proper protection. Goggles and a face mask are a must. It is also recommended that you wear gloves, long pants, and a long shirt. The product will not do any major damage if you get it on your arms or legs, but you will know it immediately if it comes in contact with your skin.

Protection for eyes, mouth, feet, arms, and legs. We are going to be using a mild acid here, so it is necessary to have the proper protection. Goggles and a face mask are a must. It is also recommended that you wear gloves, long pants, and a long shirt. The product will not do any major damage if you get it on your arms or legs, but you will know it immediately if it comes in contact with your skin.

Tools & Materials

  • Scraper, quick dry concrete, wire brush or other method to remove liquids. All your imperfections are going to show through even after the application. These items will help you get the area ready to receive the liquid. If your concrete is brand new, you can probably skip these items.
  • Painters tape and paper or plastic covering. You will want to protect your baseboard, and lower part of the wall with these items
  • Broom. This will be used for cleaning and evening out the solution on the floor.Wet vac. This will be used for cleaning and removing excess liquid from the surface.
  • Sprayer. This is the recommended way to apply the stain.
  • Paint tray and roller. This will be used to apply the sealer.
  • Acid concrete stain. Enough to cover desired area.
  • Sealer. This will protect your concrete and will bring out the best colors.
  • Acrylic floor wax. This is going to make your floor look great and make it incredibly easy to maintai

Note: “It is important to remember that any surface that already has a sealer or curing agents on it will not be stainable. When washing the surface, DO NOT use an acid wash; this will cause a reaction with the top layer of your floor, and it removes the ability to color the surface.”


The first thing you do is choose a color you like. After, test the colors that you are considering using. Since stained concrete is the result of a chemical reaction, the results will be different for each unique surface. The color charts provided by the manufacturers are only guides, so you will want to see for yourself how it will look on your concrete. You will usually be able to get samples from the manufactures before you make a purchase. Find an area that is out of sight (a closet is perfect), and clean the area.

Once the surface is completely dry, box off the area you will be testing with tape. With a sponge, apply a 1:1 diluted solution of the stain and water. Make sure to label each sample, so you do not get them mixed up.

Let the sample areas dry for at least three hours before you return to check on them. Wash off any leftover residue with a wet sponge. After the areas are clean and wet, you will be able to get a good idea of what they will really look like once the process is completed. If you like what you see, it is time to move ahead with the project.


The first step of preparing your surface is to vacuum around the edges of your walls. Then, tape and plastic off your walls and door frames.

The next step is repairing the floor. If you have new concrete, this part will be a breeze. If you have old concrete with lots of cracks and stains, this will most likely be the most difficult task. After applying the stain to the concrete, you will still be able to see any cracks or imperfections that already existed. Think about how the grain and knots of wood look after it is stained. This is very similar with concrete staining. If your surface is new, or in excellent shape, you can skip to the cleaning stage.

Hairline cracks can add character to the final product, but anything bigger should be filled. To do this, begin by vacuuming the crack to remove all debris. Then fill the crack with concrete glue, and let it set.

Then fill the crack with concrete glue, and let it set.

After the glue has set, fill the crack with anchoring cement, and let it dry. Scrape off any high spots and sand down the new surface until it is smooth. Repeat this process until all unwanted cracks are repaired.

Scrape off any imperfections and remove any unwanted stains. CLR works well to remove rust stains, and Glue-B-Gone should be used to get rid of any carpet glue that is still around. If a spot is being difficult, you might have to use a wire brush to remove it.

Now you will want to give the area a full washing. Scrub the floor with a TSP and water mixture (1 cup TSP to 4 gallons of water). With your wet vac, suck up all the water, and rinse your floor with clean water. After your floor is completely dry, you will want to go over it with a vacuum again to ensure all debris is gone. Before you begin applying the stain, you will want to make sure the surface is completely dry, so it is best to leave it overnight.

Now, after you have selected the right stain for your project, we finally get to the fun part; how to apply the color.


“Important – One thing you should remember before you get started with the concrete is that you are going to be working with a low strength acid. It is not very dangerous, but you need to protect your arms, legs, and especially your eyes. You should also wear a face mask so you do not inhale the fumes. When picking out clothes to wear for the job do not go with anything you are very fond of, because there will likely be some damage done to those items.”

This type of project is actually easiest when it comes to applying the color. It is recommended to diluted the liquid by 1:1 with water. I like to mix the ingredients in a bucket and then fill the sprayer from the bucket.  This application procedure is best accomplished by two people. One person will spray on the stain, while the other follows behind with a broom to scrub in the solution.

By following a systematic approach, the application process will become easier (and more successful). Take a deep breath and relax. Sprayer operators will apply the solution while broom operators follow behind and scrub the solution into the concrete. When you get halfway through your current length, you’ll have brush strokes left, so you’ll need to go back over that area with the sprayer and apply second coat. Doing this will get rid of any trail or brush strokes and give you a natural and consistent look.

You should keep going end to end in a “typewriter” fashion so that the edges won’t dry. Simply put, you start at the left side of the room, work your way to the right side, and then start from the right side to the left side of the room for each successive level. Make sure to always go over each area with a second coat to remove the marks the broom leaves behind. Repeat this process until the entire surface is covered.

You need to let the area dry once you’re finished. The amount of time will vary depending on which brand of concrete stain you use.


In the following step, you will want to wash the surface with a baking soda and water mixture after the proper reaction time has passed. By neutralizing the acid, you will stop the reaction, and any residue that may still be on your finished flooring will be removed. The first person should mop over the entire area with a bucket filled with baking soda and water, while the other follows behind with a wet vacuum to remove all the dirty water. It is very important that no one steps on the un-neutralized area, as this could cause footprints. To get best results, let the floor dry for a few minutes and then wipe it one or two more times. Once it dries, you will notice that it looks a bit chalky. You need not worry about this since the sealer will only enhance the surface.

You have completed your work for today after completing this step. Allow the surface to dry for the night. You should use fans to ensure it is completely dry before applying the sealer tomorrow.


You should be able to apply the sealer very easily. It is crucial that you select a sealer that works with your brand of stain. Pour the sealer into a paint pan and roll it on. After allowing it to fully dry (read the manufacturer’s label for drying times), apply a second coat. As soon as you apply the first coat, you will notice that the colors are now much richer and fuller; this is the stained concrete look that you have been trying so hard to achieve. Once the final coat of the sealer is completely dry, it is now safe to walk on and return furniture to the room.

Concrete can be stained to provide protection, but if you want an additional level of protection and easier cleaning, you should apply 3-4 coats of a finish. Finishing your floors with a floor wax adds another layer of protection, while making them look great and making cleaning easier. A simple applicator is all you need to spread the finish evenly over the floor. Before you apply the next coat, let the previous one dry for about an hour.

Now that you know how to stain concrete floors, what are you waiting for? This process is an easy, affordable, and effective way to turn those ugly, dull, and boring surfaces into something you can be proud to show other people.

Don’t forget, if this process doesn’t quite meet your expectations, you can also use paint, stamps, and mats to decorate your area.  Concrete surfaces can be painted with epoxy based paints.  It is also important to protect your concrete no matter what type of decorative floor you choose.

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