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Acid Stain Concrete Basement Floor: How to Add Color and Character to Your Space

By Kimberly Raley

Acid staining your concrete basement floor is a great way to add color and character to your space. In this blog post, we will share our experience on how we acid stained our concrete basement floor for the second time. We’ve learned a lot from our first DIY project and we made sure to avoid the mistakes we made the first time around. We were able to complete the project in about a week, working on it in between our work schedule and allowing for drying time. We were able to save some money by reusing materials from our first project such as the sealer, wax, and spiked shoes, and only had to purchase new items like the acid stain, etching solution, and cleaning products. Join us as we guide you through the process of acid staining your concrete basement floor.

A side-by-side comparison of a plain concrete basement floor (before) and a transformed, multi-layered and protected surface (after) achieved with acid staining, sealing and waxing techniques.
Before and After: A plain concrete basement floor transformed into a stunning, multi-layered and protected surface with acid staining, sealing and waxing techniques.
CitrusEtch™ concrete etcher
CitrusEtch™ concrete etcher
ProClean Degreaser
ProClean Degreaser™
ProClean Neutralizer
ProClean Neutralizer™
Azure Blue EverStain Swatch
EverStain™ Azure Blue
Coffee Brown EverStain Swatch
EverStain™ Coffee Brown
AcquaSeal Satin
AcquaSeal™ Satin
ProWax™ Polish Satin
ProWax™ Polish Satin

Step 1: Prepare Concrete Floor

The first step in acid staining your concrete basement floor is to prepare the surface.

1. Clean the surface: Use a shop vac or sweep and mop the floors with a concrete cleaner and degreaser.

Cleaning the floors with a concrete cleaner and degreaser
Sweep and mop the floors with a concrete cleaner and degreaser

2. Etch the concrete floor: Apply an etching solution and let it sit for about an hour. Rinse thoroughly. Note that our floors were machine troweled so we left the solution on for a bit longer than the recommended 20 minutes.

Etching the concrete in preparation for acid staining
Etching the concrete in preparation for acid staining. Applying the solution and letting it sit for an hour before rinsing thoroughly.

Step 2: Acid Stain Application

Apply acid stain using a pump up sprayer. Safety while applying colorant is important. Remember to use long sleeves, pants, goggles, and gloves while working with the acid stain.

  1. Spray Base Color

“Then the fun began. We decided to use the wet-on-dry acid staining technique. We applied the Azure Blue first and let it dry for about five hours.”

Applying the Azure Blue base color using a pump up sprayer
Applying the Azure Blue base color using a pump up sprayer
A photo of a concrete basement floor with a dried Azure Blue acid stain covering the surface
The Azure Blue base color has dried and is ready for the next step in the acid staining process.

2. Spray Accent Color

“We decided to go sparingly on the brown and only used half of what we ordered. The coffee brown is a very rich color and definitely dominant. Perhaps we will use up our leftovers by staining the storage section of the basement.🤔”

Coffee Brown accent color over a dried Azure Blue acid stained concrete basement floor
Applying the Coffee Brown accent color over the dried Azure Blue base color for a unique multi-layered acid staining effect

For more detailed information and techniques, read How to Layer Two Acid Stain Colors.

A photo of a concrete basement floor with the Coffee Brown accent color drying over the dried Azure Blue base color acid stain
The Coffee Brown accent color is drying and will be ready for the next step in the acid staining process

For information on how long to leave the acid stain on the concrete, refer to our guide “How Long to Leave Acid Stain on Concrete

Step 3: Neutralize Acid Stain.

“Our basement is sectioned off into 3 spaces; the 400 square foot rec room, 300 square foot laundry/workout area, and a large 638 square foot storage area which could be converted into a garage.”

A photo of a dry concrete basement floor with the acid stain fully dried and ready to be neutralized before the final cleaning and rinsing process
The acid stained concrete basement floor is dry and ready to be neutralized

“Back to explaining the project … We neutralized with a 2-gallon bucket of water and baking soda, pushing it with a sponge mop. We cleaned up with more cleaner and degreaser, first doing a couple rinses with a water hose before scrubbing it down.” “Total cleaning/rinsing took about 6 times as opposed to over 20+ the last time.”

A photo of a wet concrete basement floor with the acid stain neutralized and rinsed, showing the final multi-layered color effect on the surface.
The acid stain has been neutralized and rinsed, revealing the final multi-layered color effect on the concrete basement floor

For more details on neutralizing acid stain, check our guide “How to Neutralize Concrete Acid Stain”

Step 4. Concrete Sealer Application

For staining basement projects where smell and ventilation are going to be your biggest concerns, we generally recommend water based sealers. They’re nearly odorless and will be safe to apply if your family or pets are in the home.

“After the floors were thoroughly dry, the first coat of sealant was applied. We used a sprayer and squeegee to spread it… pushing it mostly forward to limit marks or lines.”

1. Apply First Coat on surface in slightly circular motions with irregular overlaps. Spray thin coats to avoid puddling and let dry for 12 hours.

A photo of a concrete floor with the first coat of sealer applied, showing a glossy surface
The concrete floor after the first coat of sealer has been applied

2. Apply Second Coat following same method.

A photo of a concrete floor with the second coat of sealer applied, showing a glossy and protected surface
The concrete floor after the second coat of sealer has been applied, giving it a glossy and protected surface

Pro-Tip: To ensure that your water-based sealer is fully cured and has been applied correctly, it should be clear and non-milky. Also, check that the sealer is completely dry to the touch and does not leave any fingerprints.

Step 5: Concrete Floor Wax Application

  1. Apply the first coat: Soak the trim pad applicator in warm water, wring out the excess water, pour ProWax Polish into a paint tray, saturate the trim pad with the concrete wax solution, press out the excess wax, apply a thin milky coat across the floor surface. The product will appear milky in application but clear as it dries. Smooth out any foaming from the concrete surface and allow it to dry for 12 hours.
A photo of a concrete floor with the first coat of concrete floor wax applied, showing a glossy and protected surface
The concrete floor after the first coat of concrete floor wax has been applied

2. Apply the second coat: Allow it to dry for 24 hours before using the floor.

A photo of a concrete floor with the second coat of concrete floor wax applied, showing a glossy and protected surface
The concrete floor after the second coat of concrete floor wax has been applied, providing a glossy and protected surface

By following these steps, you will be able to achieve a beautiful, multi-layered and protected surface on your concrete basement floor. Remember to always wear the proper safety gear and to read the instructions on the products you are using. Don’t hesitate to seek help from Direct Colors if you feel unsure about any step of the process. And most importantly, have fun with it! With a little patience and attention to detail, you’ll be able to transform your plain concrete basement floor into a work of art.

A photo of a completed acid stained concrete basement floor, displaying the unique multi-layered color effect on the surface
The completed acid stained concrete basement floor, showcasing the beautiful multi-layered color effect

Acid Stain Concrete Basement Floor: Before and After Photos

A stunning finished project featuring a waxed Coffee Brown & Desert Amber acid-stained concrete basement floor, showcasing a beautiful and durable surface.
A stunning finished project featuring a waxed Coffee Brown & Desert Amber acid-stained concrete basement floor, showcasing a beautiful and durable surface.
Acid Stained Concrete Floor
Acid Stained Concrete Floor
After neutralizing, add Azure Blue, Malayan Buff and English Red veins
Acid Stained Art Studio - Azure Blue, English Red, Malayan Buff