If you’re looking for a beautiful and tough flooring solution for your home or business, consider stained concrete floors. Rockville, MD flooring contractors know that concrete is not only one of the most reliable materials to work with but one of the most versatile as well. It can be used for both indoor and outdoor applications, it is notoriously durable, and it can even be stained to create a unique look. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about stained concrete floors. We will cover what stained concrete is, how concrete stain works, the different types of stains available, and Frequently Asked Questions about stained concrete.

What Is Stained Concrete?

Stained concrete is concrete that has been colored in some way (usually floors), either by way of an acid-based or water-based stain. While there are several ways to add color to concrete floors, including concrete dye, this article will touch on everything you need to know about staining your concrete.

How Does Stained Concrete Work?

After a concrete floor has been poured, leveled, and cured, a stain will be applied to the surface of the floor. The stain is able to deeply penetrate the relatively porous concrete and alter the color or look of the surface due to a chemical reaction between the staining solution and the calcium in the concrete. Staining your concrete is preferable to painting it if you are worried about chipping or scuffing your floor and damaging the surface. It’s also important to keep in mind that acid-based stains require 24 hours to completely bond with the concrete surface, whereas water-based stains do not need this reaction period. Once the stain has been applied and allowed to react with the concrete, a sealer must be applied to protect the floor.

What’s the Difference Between Concrete Stain and Concrete Dye?

Concrete stains rely on a chemical reaction to penetrate and permanently change the color of the concrete, whereas dyes simply permeate and cover the surface of the concrete. Concrete stains are harder to predict and control than concrete dyes, due to the reactive nature of the application process. Concrete dyes, on the other hand, tend to be quite true in color to the packaging, as they simply permeate the surface of the concrete without chemically reacting with it.

Concrete stains are applied in liquid form, whereas dyes come in liquid concentrate, diluted solution, or powder. Dyes are also better for indoor products, as they are not UV-safe—unless, of course, you cover them with a protective UV sealer.

Different Kinds of Concrete Stain

There are two primary different kinds of concrete stain, each with its own perks and downsides. The two most common ways to stain concrete are by using an acid-based solution or a water-based solution. In the following section, we will detail how the two differ as well as the benefits of each method.

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With a history reaching back beyond the last 100 years, acid stains are prevalent and are the most commonly thought of when the phrase “concrete stain” comes to mind. It is great for creating earth-toned concrete surfaces, especially browns and terra cottas. Acid-based concrete stains are a solution of metallic salts, muriatic acid, and water. The metallic salts permanently bond with the calcium in the concrete and also have the added benefit of being resistant to UV light. This means acid-based stains can be used for your outdoor concrete projects! Acid stains also have the benefit of being resistant to chips, peeling, or other forms of damage due to regular wear and tear.

Another positive about acid stains is that they typically offer a kind of marbled, swirling appearance to the concrete floor, which can mask blemishes or imperfections in the concrete. As such, washing an existing concrete slab with an acid-based stain is a great way to give it new life.

One drawback with choosing an acid-based stain is that you are more limited in the color palette than water-based stains. Typically, the colors offered by an acid stain include browns, light blues, greens, and black.

Water-Based Stains

Water-based stains, on the other hand, come in a wide variety of colors and offer the applicant a little more control over the outcome than the more volatile nature of acid-based stains. An additional benefit of water-based stains is that they do not need the relatively long waiting period after application to “set,” as they do not chemically bond with the concrete. Water-based stains are likewise stable under UV light but are considered less durable than their acid stain counterparts. Also, water-based stains are quick to dry and do not emit harmful chemicals or Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).

Can Stained Concrete Be Pressure Washed?

While stained concrete (particularly acid-stained concrete) is quite durable, it is not impervious to damage. If you must use your pressure washer on stained or dyed concrete, take great care not to exceed 3,000 PSI or use excessively warm water. If you are too aggressive with your cleaning tactics, you can damage the affected area in your efforts to clean it…so take care when pressure washing stained concrete, and keep that PSI low.

Can Stained Concrete Be Stained a Different Color?

If you are using an acid-based stain, any concrete—stained or otherwise—can be altered by applying the stain and allowing the chemical reaction to occur. Staining your concrete multiple times is not recommended, however, as you will have little control over the result. A simple solution to this is adding another thin layer of concrete over the top of your slab and staining that the color you wish after it has cured.

Will Stained Concrete Fade?

Especially if left outside exposed to UV light, your chances of a faded stain are greater—particularly if you have applied a water-based stain to the surface of your concrete. Acid washes chemically bond with the concrete and therefore are more stable. This means less fading over time!

Are Stained Concrete Floors Expensive?

Concrete is beloved by contractors and homeowners alike for its durable nature and the wide variety of appearances it can take on; it can be subtle and understated, or a bold accent within your interior design. What makes concrete all the more palatable is the relatively low price point. Stained concrete floors cost between $2-$4 per square foot. This is in contrast with the significantly less durable vinyl flooring option, which is around the same price point. Considering a well-poured, cured, honed, and sealed concrete floor can last upwards of 100 years with minimal upkeep, you may never have to replace your floors again—which many homeowners find to be priceless.

Stained Concrete Floors Rockville, MD

Who ever knew there was so much to know about concrete stains? With its distinctive character, relatively low price point, and significantly long lifespan, it’s no wonder so many renovators and business owners are looking to concrete as their flooring solution for their pending construction projects. When it comes to choosing between acid-based and water-based stains, you must weigh the benefits of each kind of stain with your circumstances to end up with the right color and the right UV light resistance.

We hope we have answered all your questions about stained concrete floors. Rockville, MD’s most recommended flooring contractor, The Concrete, Etc. is your go-to professional resource for all things concrete. Still have questions? Call us today, or browse our gallery of previous work!