How to Stain Concrete
Time Required: Over 1 day
Over time, the surface of your walkway, patio or garage floor can become dull and worn down. Give the area a sleek, new look by applying a concrete stain that complements your home and protects the integrity of the surface. Read below for easy-to-follow instructions on how to stain concrete.
Tools & Materials
Before you start this project, you must first choose a concrete stain that fits your needs. There are two types to choose from: acid-based and water-based. Acid-based formulas are long-lasting and resistant to fading. They are also less likely to peel or chip and feature a natural-looking finish. Water-based stains are available in a wider variety of colors and are often easier to apply. These formulas generally have fewer toxic chemicals, and they dry more quickly.
If you feel limited by the concrete stain colors available, concrete paint is a great alternative. For garages, driveways and porches, choose high-performance options that will withstand hot tires, automotive oil and UV rays. Read our concrete paint buying guide for detailed information and help choosing the right one for your home.
Begin by removing all items from the floor and cleaning the area thoroughly. Sweep and mop to remove all dust, dirt and debris, as these will show through the stain and can impact the finished look. If needed, use a pressure washer to clear stubborn marks and discoloration.
This is also a great time to repair cracks in the surface. Use a concrete crack sealant to fill any gaps along the floor, and allow at least 24 hours for the product to fully dry. Then, use a floor scrubber to buff away any uneven patches. Once the area is clean and properly prepped, you’re ready to apply the stain.
Use an airless paint sprayer to neatly and evenly apply the stain. You may also use a paint roller or handheld brush for smaller areas and tight corners. Work in sections as needed, and go over each sprayer coat with the paint roller for a smooth and uniform finish.
Safety: Wear safety gear to protect your skin, face and lungs from chemicals, and make sure the area is well-ventilated.
If you’re using an acid-based stain, remove the residual acid with a neutralizing 4:1 solution of water and baking soda or vinegar. Make sure to use a separate sprayer for this task. After it has dried for at least 1 hour, mop it clean and clear the area of all excess water. Then, assess the finish and decide if you’d like to apply another coat.
Water-based stains do not generate excess residue. Review the label instructions for the correct drying time, and apply a second or third coat as needed.
Concrete sealers protect the finish of your stain and are designed to repel dirt, water, environmental wear and more. Choose one that offers the right amount of gloss and durability for your needs. Allow the stain to cure for a full 24 hours, then spread the sealer along the floor as directed on the label.
Tip: For added scratch protection on decorative concrete, use a floor polish or wax.
- Test a small section 1-2 days before staining the entire area. Preview the finished look and decide if the color is a good fit.
- Use painter’s tape along the bottom of each bordering wall to avoid stain splatters in unwanted areas.
- Allow fresh concrete to cure for at least three full weeks before applying a stain.
- Use a plastic airless sprayer for acid concrete stains. Metal parts are prone to damage and corrosion.
- For water-based stains, spray the area in circular motions to avoid pooling.
- Remove any existing concrete sealer before applying a new stain.