Concrete Staining Options

Make a dramatic flooring statement by staining drab gray concrete. Because concrete's natural color is neutral and the material is porous, concrete can easily be transformed into a unique and custom design element. Stained concrete, also called colored concrete, is the result of either acid stains or natural stains.

Suitable for interior and exterior applications, concrete stains can be applied to driveways, patios and sidewalks, as well as any floor inside a home, such as in kitchens and bathrooms.

Acid stain has some limitations. It may not work well on damaged or heavily worn concrete or concrete that has been previously stained. Rather than acting like paint or other coating material, acid stains work by causing a chemical reaction with the concrete. Stain creates a long-lasting effect if it is properly protected with a sealer.

Acid Stains

Acid stains are manufactured and distributed by companies such as Acid Stain USA and Kemiko. Stains are available in a wide variety of colors, including basic earth tones such as browns and tans, plus exciting colors such as red oxide and turquoise. Combine multiple colors and create designs on the concrete. Extreme care must be taken when handling and applying acid stain.

Natural Stains

Why handle potentially hazardous stain to create your concrete work of art when there are natural and non-toxic options available? Commercially available products such as Soy Crete are acid stain alternatives that are Green LEED certified and safer for the environment than acid stains.

If you prefer to do it all yourself, use coffee or iron sulfate to stain your concrete. Iron sulfate, also known as copperas, iron sulphate and ferrous sulfate, will change your dull gray concrete to a warm rust color for a fraction of the cost of acid stain. Additional advantages of iron sulfate and coffee stains are:

  • Warm, lustrous colors
  • No fumes
  • Non-toxic and environmentally friendly
  • Inexpensive
  • Anyone can do it

Add Artistic Designs

To create visual interest, use your imagination and create darker areas by allowing some areas to puddle and dry. Use crumpled paper towel and blot some areas while still wet to create lighter spots. Sprinkle with sawdust or cat litter to create a mottled pattern. Apply multiple coats after the previous coat has dried for even richer colors.

Artists can create intricate designs and patterns such as sundials, sun and moon images, sweeping curves, footprints and even tile floor designs by using the stain in innovative ways.

To create a tile floor pattern, crisscross the area with duct tape. Duct tape will form a tight seal so the stain won't seep under it and ruin your design. Spray or paint the area in thin coats with your iron sulfate solution and allow to dry. Repeat. Remove the tape as soon as the floor is dry to prevent the tape residue from adhering. The gray concrete will create interesting outlines for your "tile" floor.

Add value to your home's interior or exterior by transforming unattractive gray concrete into a design feature that you will love. Most do-it-yourselfers can easily implement artistic change with the natural stains. Call a professional if you choose acid stains.

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