How To Stain Concrete Floors – Part I (Tools, Testing, Preparation)
Applying concrete stain is not difficult or expensive. What if I told you that you could take that ugly, cold, gray concrete garage floor or other concrete 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 garage floor paint or epoxy.
What if I told you the cost of doing the concrete 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 your eyesore concrete into a beautiful masterpiece. With concrete stain on your floors you can have the durability and ease of cleaning 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 your concrete, but 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 stains but are really just film. These films are like epoxy flooring, and will not last as long or look as good as a legitimate concrete stain.
How To Stain Concrete Floors – Step by Step Instruction
Step 1: Equipment – Tools & Materials
The first part of this concrete stain guide is going to cover everything you need to do get your surface ready to accept the stains. This includes getting your materials and equipment, testing out the stain, fixing imperfections on the floor, 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.
- 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 stain 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 stains. All your imperfections are going to show through even after the stain is applied. This items to help you get your floor ready to receive the acid concrete stain. 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 the floor and evening out the solution on the floor.
- Wet vac. This will be used for cleaning the floor 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 stain 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 maintain.
“NOTE: It is important that any surface that already has a concrete sealer or curing agents on it will not be stain-able. When washing the floor DO NOT use an acid wash, because this will cause a reaction with the top layer of your floor, and removes the ability to stain the surface.”
Step 2: Choose Your Stain & Test Staining Colors
The first thing you do is choose a stain and 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 floor. The color charts provided by the manufacturers are only concrete stain guides, so you will want to see for yourself how it will look on your floor. 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 concrete acid 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.
Step 3: Preparing The Concrete Surface
The first step of preparing your surface for concrete stain 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 concrete 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 acid concrete stain to the concrete you will still be able to see any cracks, stains, or other imperfections that were already on the floor. 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.
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 stain 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.
Remember, garage floor paint and epoxy flooring are also options for you, but in the second part of how to stain concrete floors we will go into the step by step process of applying the concrete stain, applying the sealer, and applying the floor finish.