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Acid Staining Concrete Patio Floors

Acid stained patio floors are by far our most popular first-time DIY concrete coloring project. Ventilation and easy cleanup are part of what makes patio projects are what make these projects so approachable, easy, and exciting to work on. Take this project, for example.

How to Acid Stain Concrete Patio - Cola
Acid Stained Outdoor Concrete - Cola

With only two days of work, a Direct Colors customer turned their plain front yard concrete slab into a timeless work of art. If you love this style as much as we do, here are the exact materials used for this project:

If you want a concrete patio that you, your friends, and your family can enjoy, we’ve got you covered. In this guide, we’ll give you all the materials, steps, and tips you need to create the concrete patio of your dreams. Let’s get started.

How Much Does It Cost To Stain A Concrete Patio?

The cost of traditional acid stained concrete flooring begins at $0.24 per square foot (before adding sealer). 

Typically, acid staining a concrete patio would require a Concrete Acid Stain, a Solvent-Based Acrylic Concrete Sealer and Non-Slip Additive for the top coat for safety. As patios are, well, outdoors, rain and other forms of moisture can make the concrete surface slippery if not treated properly. 

These materials bring the total cost of the project to about $0.38 per square foot. 

However, there are other methods for staining concrete patios that are more cost effective, but may not achieve the color and variegated effect of acid stain.

Direct Colors Tinted Concrete Sealer is a one-step color and seal option that is available in solvent-based form for outdoor concrete, and at $0.19 per square foot, is the most cost effective outdoor concrete staining option available.

If you have a stamped concrete patio,  Antiquing Stain is the preferred choice of concrete colorant. The cost of staining outdoor stamped concrete starts at around $0.15 per square foot. This technique requires a solvent-based acrylic concrete sealer top coat and non-slip additive for the sealer which brings the cost to about $0.27 per square foot.

If you have a patio made up of concrete pavers, Direct Colors’ Portico™ Concrete Stain is our product of choice. The total cost to complete a concrete patio paver project ends up at around $0.40 to $0.50 per square foot. While that might sound a bit pricey, that includes cleaner, the stain, and the sealer. Altogether, Direct Colors’ Portico™ Concrete Paver Stain is one of the least expensive ways to stain your concrete patio.

Here are some examples of what your concrete patio could look like by using either of these concrete coloring materials:

Stamped Concrete Driveway

Tinted Concrete Sealer

Stained Stamped Concrete Patio

Antiquing Concrete Stain

Stained Pool Deck Concrete Pavers

Portico™ Paver Stain

Our Coverage Calculator will help you figure out how much stain and sealer you need to color your concrete patio. Simply measure your project area, and punch the numbers into our handy calculator.

How to Acid Stain Concrete Patio Floors

Step 1: Inspect Concrete Floor

Knowing your concrete surface conditions and age are very important factors for successful staining. Keep the following conditions in mind when determining whether or not your concrete patio is a good candidate for acid staining:

  • Concrete acid stain does not stain rocks, sand or aggregate.
  • Exposed aggregate or otherwise depleted concrete may cause the acid stain to take irregularly, react weakly, or produce an unexpected color.
  • For excessively worn (exposed aggregate) or old concrete surfaces were the acid stains cannot  react, we recommend using Direct Colors’ Portico Stains
Acid stain on old concrete with too much aggregate
This old concrete slab has been depleted of the Portland and left with excessive exposed aggregate which prevented the acid stain samples from reacting with the cement.
  • Cracks and other deformities may cause pooling or unwanted color variations. If the concrete surface is cracked, fixing the surface will avoid any issues. If the concrete surface is uneven, consider sanding or resurfacing to avoid pooling and dark spots.

Step 2: Clean Surface

Concrete Cleaner and Degreaser Concentrate

Clean your concrete patio floors with an organic concrete cleaner and degreaser. The concrete must be free of debris, dirt and oils. Generally, a generous sweeping, scrubbing, and rinsing should do the job.

For excessively dirty concrete patios read Surface Preparation For Acid Staining.

Step 3: Apply Acid Stain

To apply acid stain, we recommend using a pump sprayer. This will allow the stain to spread evenly across the concrete surface, and allows you to be creative with your application to achieve a unique design.

TIP: When choosing acid stain colors, take into account that if your patio gets direct sunlight for much of the day, avoid selecting black as a main acid stain color. Use the darker colors as an accent or the concrete will become too hot to walk on in the heat of the day.

Start by adding the concrete acid stain to your pump sprayer. Before applying the stain to your patio, test the solution on a corner of your project area. If the color is too dark, dilute the mixture by adding some water to your pump sprayer. Once your desired color has been achieved, you can start applying the concrete acid stain.

TIP: Choose a stain that complements your brick or siding color. Exact color matches are difficult to achieve with acid stain. Most customers select at least two acid stain colors for patio applications. For ideas on acid stain color combination read How to Stain Concrete Like Marble.

Concrete acid stain is well known for producing a marbled, variegated effect on concrete surfaces. To produce this “marbled” effect, spray enough stain on the surface to allow the color to naturally run and pool in the lower areas of the slab. This technique is particularly effective on outdoor concrete slabs, as they are generally poured on a slope.

Applying the Concrete Acid Stain with the sprayer nozzle close to the floor will also produce “pooling” effects whether indoors or out. To produce a multi-colored effect with distinct areas of color, begin with your lightest color as a base coat. Base coat colors can either be a light acid stain color such as Azure Blue, Malayan Buff or one of the darker stains cut with water.

Apply one heavy coat of your base color and immediately apply accent coats while the stain is still wet to encourage a more natural appearance on the slab. Continue to apply the lighter to darker colored accents until you’re satisfied with the results. If you need to walk on wet acid stain, wear acid resistant spiked shoes, golf shoes, or similar cleats to avoid leaving foot impressions on the floor.

Step 4: Neutralize

When your desired look has been achieved  and the acid stain has been given time to activate, it’s time to neutralize the surface. Concrete acid stain must be neutralized before sealing. As it is an acid stain, the compounds can damage the sealer, and, therefore, your hard-earned coloring job. Each concrete acid stain color has a different activation time. To find out the activation time for your newly concrete acid stained patio, check out our guide.

STEP 5: Seal

Select a Sealer Carefully. Patios can get wet and no one wants to slip and fall. For outdoor concrete patio floors,we recommend a Solvent-Based,  Satin Finish Acrylic Sealer. If you’re concerned about slip hazards, add an anti-slip concrete sealer additive to the second coat of sealer for maximum safety. This will create a textured, moisture-friendly surface for any outdoor concrete coloring project.

And you’re done! Now, you can enjoy your newly concrete acid stained patio for years to come. To make sure you get the most out of your coloring job, there’s some easy maintenance you can do.

Quick Maintenance Tips:

  • Concrete patios in direct sunlight that are sealed with Acrylic Concrete Sealers should be reapplied every 2-3 years. Covered patios would need to be sealed less frequently. 
  • Clean the concrete thoroughly prior to application. 
  • Solvent Based Sealers that are flaking, peeling or damaged in a similar manner should be repaired with xylene vigorously rolled from a paint try before spraying or otherwise applying another coat. 
  • Keep in mind that not all sealers are compatible or will adhere properly without profiling. Know what sealer has been previously used on the concrete before attempting to apply more. 
  • Solvent based sealer should be applied over solvent based sealer.

Did you skip surface preparation? You acid stain job did not turn out as expected? Here are some ways to fix it!