Concrete staining is the preferred finish for those who wish to achieve unique and decorative effects at a cheaper cost. Staining can cost you as little as $2/square foot. It can also create an infinite amount of special effects and an array of colors on both exterior and interior surfaces. Also, concrete staining is more than just adding color. Instead of just producing opaque effects like colored coatings or paints, stains permeate concrete to infuse it with deep, translucent and rich tones. Stain manufacturers describe the distinct appearance of concrete staining as mottled, variegated or antiqued.

Even if you treat with the same staining products, no two concrete walls, countertops or floors would look the same because of factors like age and composition of concrete, as well as porosity. Property owners can DIY when it comes to concrete staining by making use of proper application techniques and tools, but we always advise hiring professionals to get that perfect finish. This is especially important if you wish to get elaborate, decorative effects by using multiple colors. The other reason we recommend hiring professionals is for safety. Working with acid based chemicals can cause skin or eye irritation because of the corrosive components contained in these stains. Stains also produce a strong odor that is difficult to inhale.

Our professionals are experts in concrete staining. Both water-based and acid-based stains can be used for many types of concrete. You can get concrete staining on interior and exterior surfaces from kitchen countertops to driveways and pool decks. If the concrete is covered by sealers, coatings, glues, grime or curing membrane, this will stop the stain from soaking, and it won’t penetrate or achieve complete color development.

Your color options vary depending on whether you use a water-based or an acid-based stain. Acid stains offer a limited selection of colors—just eight hues and most of them would be subtle earth tones such as blue greens, terracottas, tans and browns.

Though the basic color palette is sparse, you can mix two or more stain colors to get more variety or produce deeper color effects with two or more coats of stains.

Customers who wish to go beyond the subdued palette can opt for water-based acrylic staining, which provides a wider spectrum of hues to choose from. There are several manufacturers offering a wide range of standard colors like metallic tints, white and black.

Selecting the right stain colors depends on personal choice or the desire to match or complement existing color schemes. Because stains are permanent, homeowners often prefer neutral tones such as greens, grays, light tans and browns. Wide variations in color are normal with acid-based stains. Surfaces would have variegated, mottled appearance and such variations would be emphasized when final coating of sealer is done.

A few acid stain colors are different when in liquid form and when they react with concrete surfaces. The true color isn’t apparent until it sets in after many hours on the concrete. We suggest applying the stain to a small test region first before covering the entire surface. The color is generally more intense on new concrete rather than older, weathered concrete. Color charts and actual samples of stained concrete are available to help you visualize options. We recommend asking professionals to show completed projects to make the best decision.

Stained concrete can be used for mimicking the look of everything from tanned leather to polished marble to stained wood and even natural stones, depending on the application technique.

Difference Between Water-Based and
Acid-Based Stains

Acid-based stains are generally made of inorganic metal salts that are dissolved in a water and acid solution. They penetrate into the concrete’s surface and chemically react with the concrete to form permanent bonding. The resulting color is translucent instead of opaque, leaving an attractive, rich marbling effect.

Water-based stains that are non-reactive (typically a blend of pigments and acrylic polymers) fill pores of concrete surfaces to produce colored coating or film varying from opaque to translucent depending on the product. The primary difference here is that there isn’t a chemical reaction, therefore the colors are more consistent.

Costs of Concrete Staining

There are also differences in cost. Staining costs vary depending on complexity of stain application, size of the project and surface prep requirements.

The cost for staining concrete varies immensely by concrete types, how many coats the concrete will require, size of the floor and how many different types of shades.

The last consideration is maintaining stained concrete. Though the stains are permanent, weather exposure can cause wear. For prolonged life, it’s important to protect the surface with a clear sealer and good floor wax.