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Acid Staining Our Concrete Floors – An Expensive Look At Little Cost!

This weekend, it was time to start acid staining our concrete floors.

I will admit that we both were a little nervous to get started, especially knowing this will be the final look of the flooring in the house.  So as a trial, we decided to “practice” on the concrete floors of the garage apartment first.

But after seeing the results, I can tell you we are more anxious than ever to acid stain the house floors!

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The acid stained floor in the garage apartment.

We  knew all along we wanted to have acid stained concrete floors as our finished flooring in the kitchen, bathroom and main living space. When the foundation was poured, we had the contractors score the concrete into 4 x 4 tiles.

When complete, the acid staining would have the look of large marble tile flooring – with way less cost!

Acid stains have a big advantage over floor paints and traditional stains. They are actually not truly a “stain.”

Instead, the acid reacts chemically with the minerals in the concrete to etch permanent color into the surface. This means the floor will not chip or peel like paint or stain can.

Once a sealer and or wax is applied, the floor is nearly damage proof. Acid stains work best on newer concrete or concrete that has never been sealed.

It saved big money on the budget by not having to purchase any final flooring for the house. In fact, other than purchasing a few large area rugs to soften the large open room space – the low cost of the acid stain will be it for the flooring.

As for cost, the apartment floor ended up costing about $90, and we figure the house will be about $400 to complete. That is a HUGE savings over purchasing tile, carpet or wood.

The entire process of acid staining consists of four steps. Cleaning the floor, applying the stain, deactivating the stain, and then applying a sealer. We listed the basic steps below, and also posted some additional photos of the process at the end of the post.

Acid Staining Concrete Floors


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The cleaned floor ready to be stained

We first swept the floors to remove any dirt. We then cleaned and mopped the floors with a mild dish soap detergent.

acid stain, you want to avoid any harsh chemicals that could keep the acid from reacting with the concrete. After mopping, we rinsed clean with water to remove any soap residue.

Applying The Stain

It’s important to wear protective goggles, gloves, rubber boots and a mask when applying the stain. It is an acid, so taking those precautions are very important. With that said, the stain was not bad to work with at all – and had very little smell.

To apply the stain we used a spray bottle and an inexpensive pump sprayer. We first went over the floor and hand sprayed a few random areas to create a little extra depth of color.

Next, starting from the back of the space, we used the pump sprayer and applied stain to thoroughly coat the surface. While one sprayed, the other took a 12″ stiff push broom and rubbed the stain into the surface.

It’s important here to rub the stain in with circular motions to help keep the random look. Then we left it to work its magic for about 4 hours. It will fool you as you put the acid stain on, because it will look nothing like the final color!

Deactivating The Stain

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Applying the stain with a pump sprayer

After about 4 hours, we used a solution of 1 cup of baking soda and 4 gallons of water to deactivate the stain.

The baking soda stops the acid from etching the floor. We then used our shop vac to suck up the water from the surface.

We then repeated with water a few times to remove any residue. It is at this stage when the water is put on that you will see what the floor will look like when sealed. And we couldn’t have been happier!


The final process is to seal the floor. We want the more “wet look” of marble, so we are sealing with an acrylic clear coat. We will apply two coats today with a roller – and the first floor is complete!

All that is left now is the house – and that starts next weekend! We will be sure to keep you posted on future updates of the progress.  You can see more photos of the process below.

Happy Staining – Jim and Mary.  To receive our Recipes, DIY and Gardening articles each week, sign up to follow the blog via email in the right hand column above, “Like” us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter. You can also check out our book, Growing Simple, now available on

More photos from the process:

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The acid stain drying

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Using the hand sprayer to highlight a few areas before spraying

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The acid stained floor in the garage apartment.

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