Concrete Stain Veining Technique

Concrete veining is one of those techniques that is only achievable using concrete acid stain. The marbled result and vibrant colors are hallmarks of concrete acid stain’s reaction to concrete surfaces. If you’re thinking of adding some concrete veining to your surfaces, you’ve come to the right place.

Acid Stain Veining Technique Using Cardboard

In this how-to, we’ll show you the steps for coloring your own concrete surface using the concrete veining technique. All you’ll need is some concrete acid stain, a few cleaning supplies, a sealer, and some patience.

Wet on Dry: Acid Stain Vein Technique

Step 1: Cleaning the Concrete Surface

Cleaning the concrete slab before staining is the most important step to the concrete veining technique. Any spot of paint, oil, or mastic left on the concrete surface will affect your stain finish. 

For a complete guide on how to prepare concrete for staining, we’ve put together a guide for Preparing a Concrete Surface.

Step 2: Applying Base Color

To produce a multi-colored effect with distinct areas of color, begin with your lightest color as a the first base coat.

Apply base acid stain color with pump-up sprayer
Apply Main Base Acid Stain Color with a Pump-up Sprayer

Apply a base color according to our How-to Acid Stain guidelines.

Apply base acid stain color with pump-up sprayer
Apply Acid Stain Accent Color with a Plastic Hand Sprayer

Base coat colors can either be a light acid stain color such as Desert Amber and Malayan Buff or one of the darker stains cut with water. Neutralize and rinse completely.

Step 3: Let Acid Stain Base Color React

Allow your concrete acid stain color of choice to fully react with the concrete surface. Read our article on Acid Stain Color Activation Times to know when your surface is ready for the step. 

Tip 1: Always have a spray bottle of water or a pinch of baking soda to water down or neutralize any stray drips from your applicator/spray bottle.

Tip 2: Large pits in the floor can be filled with a clear self-leveling epoxy like you might use for crafts, carefully drip and spread into and along the pit with a toothpick.

Tip 3: Cracks in the concrete a bit larger than a hair-line crack can be carefully filled with gold leaf and sealed over. Not many could say they have real gold in their floor!

Step 4: Neutralize the Acid Stain Base Color

Once the residue has dried and the stain has been given at least the recommended minimum time to react, the surface should be neutralized and all debris or excess stain removed in the following manner:

Rinse acid stain base color residue and let dry
  1. Prepare a solution using baking soda at a ratio of 1-2 tablespoons of soda per gallon of water. Thoroughly spread the solution across the slab, scrubbing with a nylon scrub brush where needed to remove residue. A shop vacuum can also be used for indoor projects.
  2. Wash the surface carefully using clean water until nothing but clear water is visible.
  3. Allow to dry before proceeding.

Step 5: Create Vein Design

There are several veining techniques you can use.  Lay string down on the concrete surface with the desired design. Long strips of plastic wrap crinkled up in a long tube or irregularly shaped pieces of cardboard strewn across the surface will also create veins. The acid stain collects where the plastic rests on the wet stain, or the cardboard will keep the surface underneath clear of stain.

To avoid accidentally drip some concrete acid stain onto an area you didn’t mean to, come prepared. Bring a spray bottle filled with concrete acid stain neutralizer on hand to spray on the problem areas.

Here are a some tips from one of Direct Colors Stay-at-Home Contest Winner Kevin Adams:

Veining Tip 1:  Use irregularly torn cardboard pieces and arrange on your floor as desired, then apply a wet area 6-8 inches away but along your cardboard so any overspray will be diluted. Try not to use torn paper as it is too thin and may not wick stain away from your irregular edge. Do not remove until dry to avoid drips.

Acid Stain Veining Technique Using Cardboard

Veining Tip 2: Use toilet paper and arrange on your floor with bunches, twists and turns, lightly wet and tease any straight lines or edges out with your fingers, lightly dribble acid stain to get a custom wrinkled veining. After a few hours sprinkle with baking soda and wet again to neutralize.

Acid Stain Veining Technique Using Toilet Paper

Veining Tip 3: With a small container or water bottle, dribble an irregular puddle followed by dribbles of acid stain in the puddle water, as the water levels and settles the stain will flow with and mix into the water giving a custom flowing water-color like effect.

Acid Stain Veining Technique Using Large Syringe
Acid Stain Kit for 200 sq ft project

For everything you need to complete this concrete coloring project, check out our DIY Concrete Acid Stain Kit

Step 6: Let Acid Stain Vein Color React

Allow your concrete acid stain color of choice to fully react with the concrete surface.

Read our article on Acid Stain Color Activation Times to know when your surface is ready for the next step. 

Acid Stain reaction on concrete floor

Step 7: Neutralize and Clean Acid Stain Residue

After allowing the veining color to fully react, rinse, and let the stained surface dry completely before sealing.

Neutralized and dry vein technique acid stained concrete floor

Step 8: Apply Sealer

Once you’ve allowed both layers of the concrete acid stain to dry, you’re ready to seal. Sealing a floor using the concrete veining technique is the same as any other floor. Once you’ve chosen your sealer, simply roll or spray it on in thin, even coats. 

Neutralized and dry acid stained concrete floor
Before Sealer Application
Sealed vein technique acid stained concrete floor
After Sealer Application

“My family would like to thank you for great products, prompt shipping, and an awesome website. Attached in the next few emails are pictures of our project. It was truly an easy, straightforward process when following the guidance provided on your website. We love the results and will refer friends and family to your company and provide the assurance that concrete staining really is a fun DIY project!”

Kevin Adams

Sealed acid stained concrete floor

Allow the sealer to dry completely, and enjoy your newly stained concrete surface.

For more information on choosing the right sealer for your floor, check out our guide

And you’re done! Concrete acid stain is one of the most vibrant and fulfilling concrete colorants. It might sound intimidating at first, but even a complex project like this can be done in only 8 easy steps. 

For more information on concrete acid stains or other colorants, check out our colorants guide. To purchase any of the items listed in this guide, check out our products.

Learn how this commercial floor stained with Azure Blue and Black EverStain acid stains was done here

Commercial floor stained with Azure Blue and Black EverStain acid stains
Commercial concrete floor