Acid stained concrete floors are a low-cost design option that yield stunning results for commercial and residential flooring needs.. Along with customizable color, acid staining and sealing ensures durability and added life to any indoor or outdoor concrete floor. 

How Much Do Acid Stained Concrete Floors Cost?

The cost of acid-stained interior flooring begins at $0.61 per square foot, which is far less than 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!

Use Direct Colors Coverage Calculators to estimate your project cost.

Coffee Brown Acid Stained Concrete Floors
Coffee Brown Acid Stained Concrete Floors

How To Stain Concrete To Look Like Stone?

When buying real stone is too costly, the most affordable stone-replacement option is concrete Acid Stain. Unlike paint, which chips and wears away, concrete acid stains penetrate deeply into the concrete, producing fade-resistant, permanent color. When working with fresh concrete it is easy to stamp and add texture to the surface in order to mimic stone, brick or marble. Whether you want a smooth or textured finish, acid staining concrete gives you the greatest degree of customization possible without the added cost of buying and transporting natural stone.

How to Make Concrete Look Like Marble

What is Acid Stained Concrete?

Acid staining concrete, also known as “acid washing,” is the process of coloring and sealing concrete to achieve a permanent color affect that penetrates into the pores of the concrete. The striking color that results is a reaction between hydrochloric acid and lime found in concrete. Acid stain is popular among DIY’ers for its low cost and ease of use, while the degree of customization and detail that is possible makes it a favorite of contractors and designers all over the world. Common applications allow users to color large areas of concrete, countertops, interior and exterior flooring, as well as to replicate brick, natural stone and precious stone, like marble. Acid stain does not chip or fade, and owing to its durable seal, protects concrete for years to come.

Acid Stain Concrete
Concrete Acid Stain Floor Design Ideas

Concrete acid stains react with your existing concrete to produce deeply original and colorful effects and are also capable of mimicking marble and granite to match existing decor. Muriatic Acid simply reacts with the lime present in concrete to reveal unique and colorful finishes that enhance your boring concrete.

At $0.61 cents per square foot, this affordable process ensures a modern look and finish at a price no common flooring alternatives, such as tile, pergo or laminate can match. Because each Acid Stain is unique, this process allows the greatest degree of personalization possible. If you are looking to cover a large area, there is no better low-cost solution than Direct Colors Concrete Acid Stain.

Direct Colors DIY Acid Stain Concrete Project Checklist

• Acid stain
• Acid stain resistant spiked shoes
• Concrete sealer
• Cleaner & degreaser
• Cleaning cloths
• Neutralizer
• Gloves
• Goggles
• Dust mask
• Plastic pump sprayer
• Scrub brush – Medium
• Scrub brush – Soft
• Shop Vac
• 3/8″ Nap Rollers (2)

Acid Staining Concrete Floors Project Checklist

Step 1: Consider Your Surface Preparation Requirements

Often, a concrete subfloor will have dry wall mud, paint, wood stains, tile adhesives, carpet adhesives, grease, pet stains, etc. either from construction or years of use.

Because concrete acid stain is not an overcoat like paint, but a penetrating colorant that permanently changes the appearance of concrete, it is important to begin with a blemish free surface.

Areas where debris remains on the concrete’s surface will not accept the acid stain. Instead you will find color imperfections remain visible on the floor after staining. Common agitators, such as mastic, drywall mud and paint must be removed in order to give your acid stain the best chance of success.

Concrete Floor Before Carpet Glue Removal

Step 2: Clean Concrete Before Acid Staining

How to Prepare Concrete for Staining

The vast majority of concrete floors only require minimum cleaning with organic concrete cleaner and degreaser diluted with water to medium concentration. Scrub the surface with a soft nylon bristle brush or power wash on a low setting to prepare most floors for staining.

Use Mastic Remover for the removal of carpet glue.

Apply Soy Gel Paint & Sealer Stripper to remove epoxy, sealers, varnish or paint.

Use Xylene to remove solvent-based sealers and clean up sprayers or tools.

Thoroughly rinse the surface with clear water to remove any remaining cleanser, and allow the floor to dry very well before moving on to acid staining the concrete floors.

Step 3: Acid Stain Floor

Safety First! Always remember to use goggles, gloves and a dust mask while working with concrete acid stain. A respirator may be required for indoor applications with inadequate ventilation.

The appearance of your completed acid stained concrete floor is highly influenced by the manner in which the acid stain is applied. For an even-toned application, we recommend spraying the acid stain on using a plastic Pump Sprayer

Spraying Acid Stain
DIRECT COLORS - Concrete Acid Stain Color Activation Times
Faux Wood Concrete Designs

Step 4: Apply Second Coat

Acid Stained Multi-Colored Concrete Floor
Use a brush to work the acid stain into the surface using consistent circular strokes.

If a dark, even tone is desired, 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, unless that is the desired finish. For a more diffuse look, spray the stain onto the surface without brushing.

Though new smooth, concrete does not always require a second coat of acid stain, older concrete will generally require two coats of stain for complete coverage.

For multi-colored accents, apply one heavy coat of your base color and immediately apply scattered accent coats while the stain is still wet to encourage a more natural appearance on the slab. Continue to apply lighter, then darker colored accents until you are satisfied with the results.

Remember, when walking on wet acid stain, wear acid resistant spiked shoes to avoid leaving foot impressions on the floor.

For a multi-colored effect with distinct areas of color, begin with your lightest color as a base coat. Base coat colors should either be a light acid stain color such as Azure Blue, Malayan Buff, or one of the darker stains cut with water.

Concrete Acid Stain Trial Kit
Concrete Acid Stain Trial Kit

Step 5: Neutralize an Acid Stain

Once the stain has been given the recommended minimum time to produce a reaction, the surface must be neutralized with a solution. Mix baking soda and water together using 1 ½  tablespoons of baking soda per gallon of water.

Distribute the solution liberally across the floor, scrubbing with a soft bristle scrub brush until all areas have been addressed. Use a shop vac to remove excess water, then rinse and repeat with the solution at least once more.

How to Neutralize Acid Stain

Step 6: Apply Sealer 

After acid staining concrete floors and apply a water-based acrylic sealer using a 3/8″ nap roller. For best results soak the applicator in warm water and shake out excess before beginning the application.

Allow up to 24 hours drying time between each coat of sealer. No more than two thin coats of sealer will be necessary. Thick coats can result in an inconsistent finish with tacky areas that may leave undesirable results.

Do not apply a second coat of sealer in areas where the sealer has remained white or is tacky to the touch. Keep in mind that not all concrete slabs are completely level or smooth which can cause sealer to pool or appear dull in spots.

Do not walk on wet sealer; it will leave permanent impressions on the surface. Cover your feet with plastic bags to protect your floor’s finish. Do not allow foot traffic for up to 24 hours after sealing.

Concrete Sealer For Every Project
Concrete Sealer For Every Project

Step 7: Apply Concrete Floor Wax

Apply floor wax with a Trim Pad. Prior to use, soak the applicator in warm water and wring out excess before use. Pour wax into a paint or wallpaper tray and saturate the trim pad. Press out excess and then push a thin milky coat across the surface of the concrete. The product will appear milky in application but clear as it dries. Smooth out any foaming that may appear on the surface.

  •  Allow to dry for 3-4 hours between coats. 

  • The final coat should try for 12 hours before moving furniture or heavy objects across the floor.

Wash applicators with hot water and soap for future use. Store wax and floor polish in a temperature controlled space with lid tightly closed. An additional wax coat or spot-waxing will be needed every 3-8 months depending on traffic.