The Right Way to Use an Acid Base Concrete Stain (Article)
The idea that a concrete floor has to be a bland and colorless surface goes out the window when one consider the wide variety of applications that can be done with concrete stain. That is if it is applied correctly. If you have the patience to learn the staining process and prepare the concrete surface properly before applying the stain the finished floor is quite rewarding.
The most widely used stains are acid based because they are absorbed into the concrete through pores in the concrete which then allows the stain to undergo a chemical reaction with the lime that is part of the concrete mix. When this occurs, a deep color change takes place that is not only great looking but long lasting because it is actually part of the composition of the concrete, not just a surface dye.
Preparing the surface of the concrete and evaluating it for blemishes and how well it will receive the stain is the first major step of creating a perfectly stained floor. It is necessary to thoroughly clean the surface completely to create a perfect environment for the staining application.
Another benefit of a comprehensive cleaning is that you are able to spot imperfections and blemishes in the concrete when all debris and dirt are removed, this will allow you to accommodate those blemishes as you apply the stain.
In addition to cleaning the surface before you begin, another important step is to determine if the surface has enough pours, in order to absorb the stain. Pores are tiny air pockets that allow the stain to seep in and reach the lime layer of the concrete to create the staining effect.
To determine if the surface is porous, let water stand on the concrete surface. If the water beads up and does not move, you will need to create pores in the concrete as needed. You will need to apply a gel base acid solution to the surface and let it sit for approximately fifteen minutes. By doing this, it will condition the concrete surface for the staining process.
The stain will need to be applied in layers. Using a sprayer to cover the entire surface with the first coat of stain will establish a good foundation for the rest of the project. Generally each coat applied gives the surface a darker shade of color.
A word of warning, each application can take a half a day or longer because you must spray the color on and then use a brush with a medium bristle to comb out pools of the stain which will not dry at the same rate and will hurt the uniform color. Remember; allow each coat to dry for 4-5 hours.
The more you work with the stain, the more you will discover other methods to create the look and feel you want including overlays and sealers. Be patient and have fun while learning your craft well and before long you will be an expert at staining concrete which is a skill that is in steady demand in any economy.