Stained for Good: The Art of Concrete Staining

Let’s get one thing straight: plain, gray concrete is best used in military bunkers. Other than that, it’s downright boring. What can you do to spice up the gloom into glam? There’s one solution: stain it.

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If you’re a parent, the word “stain” probably doesn’t make you think of a beautiful, antique floor. Nonetheless, staining is a great way to turn a slab of gray into luxurious floor that looks like it predates the Civil War. Staining is a great way to turn a slab of gray into luxurious tones of brown, green, even blue. Concrete experts generally use one of two ways to stain concrete: acid and water-based stains. Each one has a specific purpose, but which one should you use?

Pick One

Staining concrete takes time and effort, but the results can be beautiful.

  • Acid stains are made up of metallic salt minerals dissolved into a water-acid mixture. The acids allow for a chemical reaction during the curing process that permanently changes the surface of the concrete in color and texture.
Acid stained porch in Colorado. Image taken from
  • Non-acid stains treat concrete differently than an acid stain. Instead of altering the structure of the concrete, non-acid stains create a layer over the concrete surface, filling pores and leaving behind a flat, smooth finish.
Non-acid stained concrete. Image taken from

Do Your Prepwork

According to industry experts, the best way to stain concrete is as follows:

  • Thoroughly clean and prepare concrete
  • Apply concrete stain
  • Clean up and neutralize concrete stain
  • Seal concrete for lasting protection

In order to stain concrete, the concrete must be cured to its proper strength. This can take up to 48 hours (which feels more like forever than it actually is), but with concrete curing products this time can be nearly cut in half. Powerblanket’s Concrete Curing Blanket helps keep concrete at stable temperatures above 50°F, making cure time 2.8 times faster than open air curing. This is especially helpful when staining concrete in places where temperatures are variable or close to freezing. Make sure your concrete creation cures correctly.

Once the concrete is cured, you can move on to the staining process. Begin washing down the concrete surface. You won’t want any food crumbs or shoe scuff marks to get in the way of the stain, so make sure to give it a good scrub down. Also remove any layers of glue, sealers or curing membranes that might prevent the stain from contacting the concrete. Finally, apply a concrete acid cleanser to the project surface to ensure the concrete is as porous as possible. Once it has dried, rinse the concrete with water.

Let The Staining Begin

The time has arrived to forever change the way your concrete looks. After the concrete is no longer wet from rinsing, use a brush to spread the stain across the project surface. If it’s a puddle you can splash in (don’t), it’s too thick. If it disappears right after applying it (i.e. it absorbed into the concrete), you need more.

Image taken from, a concrete DIY blog.

Once your initial layer is down, allow 24 hours of drying before doing another layer of stain, even if it’s the same color of stain.

Most stains have difficulty drying in cold temperatures. If you can’t help but do a concrete staining project in the dead of winter, a Concrete Curing Blanket can save the day, allowing the stain to dry within a controlled environment.

Protect Your Project

You’re so close to being done! After the stain has dried, use a sealer or wax to protect the stain from dirt or grime that could change the color or texture over time. You’ll need to regularly clean the project surface, but don’t use powerful chemicals like bleach, vinegar or ammonia. Such solutions can damage stained concrete. And you wouldn’t want that, would you?

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Finally, bask in your work. Enjoy the fruit of your labors by eating a large bowl of grapes on your newly stained concrete patio, kitchen counter, table top, or garage floor.