Ever since publishing an article last summer about using acid stain on the concrete floors in our Simple House, we have been bombarded with requests for more information. So today, we thought we would take you through the entire process step by step.

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What a difference acid stain makes. You can see the original concrete yet to be stained at the bottom

I think we are still both surprised how simple it is from start to finish. As for the results, we can’t believe just how amazing it can make bland concrete floors turn out.

Acid stains are a great choice when in comes to creating a beautiful look for all types of concrete surfaces.  They also many built in advantages  over floor paints and traditional stains.

Acid stain is not a traditional “painting”stain. Instead, the acid reacts chemically with minerals in the concrete to etch permanent color into the surface. This means the floor will not chip or peel like paint or stain.

Once a sealer or wax is applied, the floor is nearly damage proof. Acid stains work best on newer concrete or concrete that has never been sealed. There are many brands to choose from, but nearly all work with the same process.

Tools Needed :  Inexpensive 2 Gallon Pump Sprayer, 2″ paint brush, 3/8 Nap Roller, cotton mop, 6″ Stiff Floor Brush With Long Handle, Wet / Dry Shop Vac, protective goggles, chemical resistant gloves, rubber boots, baking soda

How To Acid Stain Concrete In 4 Simple Steps

#1 Prepping The Floor

Cleaning and prepping the concrete surface before applying the acid stain is by far the most important step to success.

Start by mopping the surface with a mild dish detergent. We used a simple solution of Dawn dish soap and water to mop our floor. For grease spots or stubborn stains, use a concrete spot degreaser  to lift out the stain.

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The clean floor ready to be stained

Avoid any harsh chemicals that could keep the acid from reacting with the concrete. If you have a large surface, or for floors that have excessive dirt and grime, you may want to consider renting a power floor cleaner.

Do not use muriatic acid or other acids to clean the floor. This will keep your acid stain from working.

Once the floor has been cleaned, rinse and mop the entire floor one final time to remove any soap residue that might remain. Next , protect all of the wall surfaces with plastic and tape. It’s best to protect up at least 12 to 24″ to avoid getting acid stain on the walls.

Now you are ready to apply that acid stain!

#2 Applying The Stain

Before working with acid stain, it’s important to have the proper safety gear on hand for personal protection.

That includes protective goggles, gloves, rubber boots and a mask. It is an acid, so taking precautions to keep away from your skin, and eyes are extremely important.

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Applying the stain with a pump sprayer

Once you have your safety gear on, its time to get to work!  Carefully pour your acid into the pump sprayer. We mixed our acid with water on a 1:1 ratio.

Starting from the back of the space, apply the stain liberally thoroughly coat the surface. For corners and tight spaces, use the brush to apply stain.

While one person sprays, have a second person on hand with the stiff push broom to rub the stain into the surface. Rub the stain in small circular motions to drive the stain into the concrete and help keep the random look.

Then step back and let the acid do the work. Don’t be alarmed at this point if your floor looks nothing like you imagined. The true color will come out when it cleaned and sealed.

The longer you leave the stain on, the deeper and darker the colors will be. Usually somewhere between 4 and 6 hours is best.

#3 Deactivating The Acid Stain

Once 4 to 6 hours have passed, its time to deactivate the acid stain. Make your deactivating solution with a ratio of 2 cups of baking soda and 5 gallons of water.

Mix thoroughly and apply to the floor, mopping it as you go. The baking soda stops the acid process from etching the floor.

As one person applies the baking soda/water mixture, have a second person go behind with a shop vac to suck up the water from the surface.

Repeat and rinse with plain water two more times to remove any final residue. It is at this stage when the water is put on that you will see what the floor will look like when sealed.

#4 Sealing

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Acid floor cleaned and ready for sealer

Once the floor has dried from your final rinse, it’s time to seal. This is the final step that will give your acid stain it’s final look and shine.

There are a lot of concrete sealers and waxes available, so make sure before applying to make sure that you choose a sealer compatible with the acid stain. For our floors, we wanted a more “wet look” of marble, so we chose an acrylic clear coat.

You will want to apply a minimum of two coats of sealer, using a with a roller. Allow the floor to dry to touch between coats. Once complete, it’s best to allow 24 hours to dry completely before foot traffic.

We are still amazed at how simple the process really is, and how incredible the floor looks. The best part of all, other than applying a few coats of sealer every few years, maintenance

Happy Staining! – Jim & Mary.

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How To Acid Stain Concrete Floors, Patios or Basements In 4 Simple Steps