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Acid Stain Concrete Floors

Acid stained concrete floors are a low-cost flooring option. Along with customizable color, acid staining and sealing ensures durability and added life to any indoor or outdoor concrete floor. 

Acid Stained Concrete Floors

How Much Do Acid Stained Concrete Floors Cost?

The cost of acid-stained floors begins at $0.37 per square foot, which is far less than tile, carpet, marble or other common flooring options. Depending on design and surface conditions, costs can rise as high as $10.00 per square foot. Yet, unlike hardwood, tile and carpet, which require professional installation, homeowners can lower costs by acid-staining concrete flooring themselves!

When deciding on a look for your new flooring project, it is important to understand that acid stains are not an overcoat like paint. Acid stains are translucent, penetrating stains that slightly etches and permanently changes the color of the concrete by reacting chemically with the hydrated lime in the concrete.

If concrete your floor has dry wall mud, paint, wood stains, tile adhesives, carpet adhesives, grease, pet stains, etc. either from construction or years of use; preparing the concrete surface is crucial to achieving the ideal finished product.

Acid Stained Concrete Floors: How to Guide


Step 1: Prepare Surface for Acid Stain

First, clean the floor with a light Concrete Cleaner & Degreaser solution. Thoroughly scrub & rinse all residues from the surface and allow the floor to dry.

Before Floor and Wall Overlay by Ken

This building was built in 1927 and the floors were in very poor condition. Ken decided to spray the floors with a thin coat of smooth concrete overlay to create a fresh canvas for acid staining.

Step 2: Apply the Acid Stain

Pour acid stain into a pump up sprayer. Safety while applying colorant is important. Remember to use goggles and gloves while working with the concrete dye.

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.

The stain color finish is highly influenced on how you apply the acid stain. Here are a few tips on how to achieve the ideal finished product:

  • For an even-toned color, spray the acid stain in a circular motion.
  • For a dark toned color, use a brush to work the acid stain into the surface using consistent circular strokes. Then spray on a second coat to eliminate any brush strokes on the surface.
  • For a diffused look, spray the stain onto the surface without brushing.
  • For marbling effect, apply one heavy coat of your base color and immediately apply scattered accent coats while the acid stain base is still wet. Continue to apply lighter, then darker colored accents until you are satisfied with the results.
Acid stained concrete floor

Ken wanted to create a rustic, leather-like appearance on the concrete floors so he diluted 10 parts water to 1 part of Direct Colors Coffee Brown Acid Stain before application.

Remember to wear acid resistant spiked shoes to avoid leaving foot impressions on the floor.

Step 3: Let Acid Stain Dry

As the acid stain dries and processes, a residue of alkali and minerals forms on the surface of the concrete. This is completely normal and is part of the reaction process. Each stain has different activation times to fully color the concrete, generally from 4 to 8 hours. Acid stain can be left on the surface longer if desired.

Step 4: Neutralize Acid Stain

  1. Prepare baking soda and water solution using 1-2 tablespoons of baking soda per gallon of water.
  2. Spray or pour the soda and water solution on every inch of the floor.
  3. Move the solution around the floor using a squeegee.
  4. Scrub with a soft nylon bristle scrub brush where needed to remove residue.
  5. Wash the surface carefully using clean water until nothing but clear water is visible.
  6. Remove all residue and excess color from concrete before leaving to dry.
  7. For Stubborn residue or porous surfaces, use an organic degreaser to aid in the removal. The clean, wet surface will be the approximate color of the final sealed surface.
  8. Leave to dry.
  9. After the surface has completely dried, the floor should be ready to seal.

Neutralizing your acid stain is an absolutely essential step in a successful concrete acid stain application. Read more about the importance of this step.

Step 6: Apply Concrete Wax

  • Soak Trim Pad applicator in warm water
  • Wring out excess water from applicator
  • Pour concrete wax into a paint tray
  • Saturate trim pad with concrete wax solution
  • Press out 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

Ken used Commercial Floor Wax and Polish to protect the colored floor coating from daily wear and tear. Regular waxing is important in high traffic spaces like hair salons where high traffic and repetitive motion around hair stations is likely.

Learn How to Acid Stain Concrete Floors

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