Concrete is a great material for both outdoor and indoor applications. It is strong, durable, and long-lasting, as well as quite cheap for most projects. Its major downfall is its looks – concrete is simply boring to look at and doesn’t match with many home themes and indoor decors. Luckily, it is possible to change the outward appearance of the concrete through concrete staining. Concrete staining do it yourself is very doable for many homeowners, though there are things to keep in mind to do it economically, safely, and effectively.
Benefits of Staining Concrete
As already explained, staining concrete will add a nice color to your floor, patio, walkway, etc., one that you can match to the other features of your home to have a more integrated design. Another benefit of the stain is its sealing properties, as it will help protect the concrete from unwanted stains, dirt, and damage. Note, however, that you may want to lay down a layer of sealer before you stain the concrete to further protect the surface.
A further benefit has to do with the texture of the concrete. Over time, even the hardest concrete will show signs of wear and tear, including cracks and blemishes and rough textures. Concrete stain will help smooth and even out the surface. This is an advantage over painting, patching, and polishing, as these will have to be redone every once in a while.
There are two main types of stain. The first only lays a thin layer on the top of the concrete. It worms its ways into the pores and imperfections of the surface. This is the acrylic stain; it works best with old concrete, though it can also work with new as well. It is good for hiding these imperfections. While this is less serious and cheaper, it will not last as long to weather, traffic, and abuse. The other kind reacts with the surface of the concrete to provide a deeper, and thus more hardy and long lasting, stain. This is the acid stain – it reacts with the calcium carbonate and lime of the concrete. The acid concrete stain will actually accentuate any imperfections on the concrete and works better with new concrete. The stains you use will depend on the properties of your concrete and the effect you’re going for, as well as the traffic and weathering that you expect the stain to experience. A harder concrete surface will require deeper penetration of the stain, while a rougher and/or more porous concrete surface will require stain that will ooze into the holes best.
Concrete Stain Do It Yourself Tips
In general, if you have the skills and are open to staining concrete, do it yourself. You’ll save money and do the job the way you want it to be done. Of course, if you don’t have the skills or the confidence, you can always hire a contractor. Note, however, that a improperly applied stain will look terrible, so make sure you do your research and potentially practice on a less visible area before attempting this. Note that the stain is permanent, so be careful with your design and installation decisions!
Before applying stain, make sure to have safety equipment in place, as this material can be very harmful to your skin and lungs. Whenever engaging in acid stain concrete do it yourself activities, wear goggles, thick clothing, and a mask. Make sure you have plenty of ventilation so that fumes don’t build up.
Next, clean the surface of the concrete as best you can to remove all blemishes and debris that is removable. Get concrete cleaner or use a sandblaster for this step. At this point, you may apply one layer of sealant with a paint brush and paint roller. Allow the sealer to dry before continuing with the next steps.
Follow the instructions on the staining package to determine how to prepare the stain. You may have to experiment here to find the texture, color, and other features of the stain that you want for your concrete. You can do this by finding other concrete, either blocks, old patches in your yard, or concrete slabs you create just for testing. The more you dilute the stain, the different the color will appear; you can also experiment with different ways to create designs and patterns on your concrete, if desired.
How you apply the stain will depend on the effect you’re looking for. If you just want an even coat, apply it with paint brushes and rollers. However, if you want special patterns, you’ll have to be more creative. Consider covering certain objects with the acid stain and then laying them on the concrete to create the patterns you like. Allow the stain to dry, and add a second layer if you want.
Never rush when applying your stain. Properly applied, concrete acid stain can look great. However, if you rush it, it will end up looking terrible, perhaps worse than it did before, and you’ll regret your efforts. Take your time, put in the effort, use your creativity, and it will turn out great.