Some see concrete. We see a canvass. Staining outdoor concrete surfaces like patios, driveways, walkways, etc., is a fast, easy, affordable way to transform a dull gray outdoor concrete surface into something colorful and wonderful. It just takes a little knowledge.
This article will teach you everything you need to know to apply stain to concrete, we’ll give you a few design ideas as well.
Doing this project yourself will save you money. You won’t need any expensive tools, and if you don’t love how it comes out, don’t worry — you can stain right over it.
Let’s start with the basics — what is concrete stain?
A coating intended to alter the color of an outdoor concrete surface. There are two major types, water and acid-based stains. We’ll focus on water-based stains because they offer more color possibility, and are easier to apply.
How long will it take to complete?
Two days — one to prep the concrete and apply the stain, and one to seal it. If you’re adding a second coat of stain, add another day.
Where can you buy concrete stains?
Please call Duraamen Engineered Products Toll Free 1 (866) 835-6595 or email: [email protected]
Here’s what you’ll need:
• Your garden variety garden sprayers — one for each color stain you’re applying and one for water
• Cardboard to spray on first and test your mix
• Plastic guard or wrapping to protect the side of your house from any potential drift (you never know, so just be safe)
• A spray bottle and clean cloth for touch ups
• A 3/8-inch brush and a 3-inch roller for applying concrete sealer
What if your concrete has seen better days?
You can still apply stain over a worn surface and improve the look. But stain will only cover over the concrete. It won’t cover up the condition.
Because stain is semi-transparent in general, you’ll always be able to see the concrete beneath it — all the more so if you’re using a light color.
Getting your surface ready.
Cleaning your surface is key. That’s because rust or oil stains will show through the stain. So use a super-duty cleaner on small sections at a time. If you have rust stain, use rust cleaner. If you have a grease or oil stain, use grease or oil cleaner. Rinse any cleaner off thoroughly.
If you surface has any kerfs (decorative slits cut into the surface), use your water hose to blast out dirt and debris. Even the bottoms of the shoes you plan on wearing during the application need to be cleaned — and to be safe, don’t walk over the area until game time. What if after you’ve cleaned the surface, leaves or dirt blows onto it? Such is life. Just sweep it away using a broom.
Important preparation tip: If the surface you’ll be spraying is close to your house, cover the lower few feet to shield it against any spray that might blow over. Just tape plastic lining along the side.
Now you’re ready to apply.
The big day is finally here. But if the weather isn’t right, you may have to postpone. Here are conditions to avoid:
• Sunlight — shade or overcast is best
• Wind — if it’s really windy, the stain could drift (think of when color runs)
• Rain — Need we say more?
Now that you’re really ready, follow these basic steps.
Step 1: Fill yours sprayers with stain, and one with water. But do this over your driveway, lawn or in the street — anywhere but near your surface just in case you spill.
Step 2: Spray and wet the concrete section but without any water buildup. In other words, no puddles.
Step 3: Moving your sprayer in a continuous, circular motion, spray the first onto the wet surface until you cover it once. Don’t go back in forth. You just want to achieve a nice base coat.
Step 4: Let it dry for 24 hours.
Step 5: Inspect for areas need touching up (see below)
Step 6: Apply concrete sealer (see below).
Want richer color?
Not every surface receives stain in the same way. If your end result appears lighter or less vibrant than the color you loved in the store, just add another coat of stain. The same as round one, wet the concrete and apply.
Woops, missed a spot. Leaf land on your wet stain?
Here’s what you do.
After you’re positive that the surface is dry, inspect for any spots you missed (check extra carefully around the edges). Remove any debris that landed and got stuck. Then fill a regular spray bottle with stain and spray it on a clean cloth. Dab it onto the spot as well as the surrounding area to help ensure that it blends naturally. That was easy.
To create a pattern:
With stained concrete, the only limit is your imagination. Search for ideas online, or create simple patterns according to the tiles or existing lines in your surface.
If you have square tiles, you can alternate color to create a pattern. The challenge when applying a second color is making sure that you’re not getting any over your first color. To protect your surrounding areas, place cardboard or other divider in the kerfs or expansion joints. This will block any mist from making its way where it isn’t wanted. Your cardboard has to be dry, otherwise it could drip onto the concrete. Painters tape won’t work as the stain will just go underneath. Believe us, we tried.
To create a marbleized look:
Using the same circular motion, apply your first color over the entire area to achieve a base coat. Immediately after, spray the area with a mist of water, then apply the second color. It will mix with the first to create a marble like effect. Again, if you don’t like it, just stain over it.
If you want to use multiple colors, cutting kerfs into the concrete will allow you to create a crisper separation of color. To do this, you’ll need a circular saw with a diamond masonry blade.
You don’t need deep cuts. About 1/4 inch is ideal to create your lines. Beforehand, you may want to use chalk to mark where you intend to cut. For a perfectly straight cut, use a wooden board to help guide your saw. Misting the blade with water while cutting will help contain the dust. You’ll obviously need a second person for that. For areas to tight to use a saw, try a masonry chisel and a hammer.
Sealing your handiwork
Give the stain a full 24 hours to dry (in non-humid conditions) before applying a high-gloss sealer. A high-gloss sealer will make your top coat appear more vibrant.
Sealing is also important because it not only helps protect your concrete, it prevents the color from fading prematurely. But as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, that sun will eventually fade your floor. But rolling on a new coat of sealer every three or four years will help protect it.
How much sealer do you need?
A gallon covers about 200 to 400 square feet. Like the stain itself, it’s best to apply sealer when the surface is shaded. Just follow these directions.
Step 1: Using a three-inch brush, start sealing along the edges of your surface to create a border. The sealer will turn clear upon contact.
Step 2: Using a 3/8-inch nap roller, roll sealer on to the rest of the surface.
Step 3: Wait two hours. Once 100% dry, apply a second coat, this time rolling perpendicular to the first.
Step 4: Host your first BBQ! Okay, you may want to give the seal a day to dry first.
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