Your Guide To Acid Staining

Your concrete floors may be easy to take care of, but not so easy on the eyes. The dull gray color of concrete can cause people to overlook this underrated building material. Luckily, there are many new ways such as staining that are designed to improve the color and finish of this inexpensive flooring. If you're interested in upgrading your concrete, check out this guide to acid staining.

What is acid stain?

Acid staining concrete is different than dying it in that it changes the makeup of the material instead of simply coloring over it. Acid staining works by applying a hydrochloric acid solution to the stone, which then creates a chemical reaction, thereby changing the concrete's color. Because concrete is made up of a variety of natural materials, acid stained concrete has marbled, earth toned colors ranging from deep browns and reds to green.

Because the concrete's color is changed through a chemical reaction, acid stained floors do not come in as many color varieties as dyed concrete. But what stained concrete lacks in variety, it makes up for in durability: stained concrete can better withstand sun exposure and intense, prolonged use.

How much does it cost?

The main factors that will determine how much an acid staining project will cost are: manpower, surface area, and design.

  • DIY vs Contractor: if you hire a contractor to stain and seal the floors, they will typically charge you around $2 to $4 per square foot for a simple stain. If the area you want stained is large, this can obviously add up quickly. Opting to do the work yourself can save a lot: DIY acid staining kits sell for only a couple hundred dollars and you can buy acid stain online. The downside to taking on a project this large alone is that you run the risk of permanently etching a mistake into your concrete.
  • Design: if you want a pattern and/or multiple colors stained, then the price goes up drastically. Intricate staining can cost anywhere from $10 to $25 per square foot. Because an elaborate design requires not only skilled construction, but also artistry, it is usually best to hire a professional

What is the application process like?

Acid staining is not a quick day job. Because the solutions must be applied in steps, the process can take a few days to complete.

  • Step 1- Prep: Before any staining takes place, the concrete must first be thoroughly cleaned. If the concrete is indoors, the trim work should be removed and the lower half of the walls covered to avoid discoloration.
  • Step 2- Apply: Mix the acid stainer as directed and apply the solution to the floors using an industrial plastic spray wand. The acid should fully saturate the stone, but not pool. Allow first layer to dry for an hour and repeat until desired coloration is achieved.
  • Step 3- Neutralize: Once the acid is dry, it needs to be neutralized. Spray a four-part water, one-part ammonia solution onto floor and let dry.
  • Step 4- Seal: The next day, place a sealant on top of the stain to protect the floors from water damage. Apply a few thin coats and let dry.