Concrete Surface Preparation
For Acid-Staining Concrete

If you want to learn how to stain concrete the concrete surface preparation is one of the most important steps.

Turning a plain gray concrete floor into something beautiful is something you can do yourself.

By staining your concrete you can have the ease of cleaning and durability that concrete is known for.

When you stain concrete, you're actually using a mixture of acid, metallic salts and other materials that cause a chemical reaction.

This reaction changes the composition and color of the concrete. Acid stain isn't a paint or coating that might peel off, it's permanent.


The right tools make concrete surface preparation a lot easier.

  1. Protective clothing - mask, goggles, gloves, long pants, long sleeve shirt and boots. This is a mild acid and you don't want to get it on your skin.
  2. Glue remover, stain remover, scraper, wire brush, concrete patch, all the imperfections will show through even after the stain is applied.

    Clean everything off and patch any pop outs or cracks in the floor. (if your concrete is brand new you probably don't have to worry about this).
  3. Tape and plastic to protect baseboard trim, walls.
  4. Broom to clean the floor and also for applying the stain
  5. Wet vac, this will be used to clean the floor and remove any excess liquid on the concrete.
  6. Sprayer for acid stain, make sure when you buy it you ask if it will spray an acid solution without ruining the inside parts.
  7. Acid concrete stain, get enough to finish the job.
  8. Paint tray & roller to apply the sealer.
  9. Concrete Sealer to protect the stain and bring out the color.
  10. Acrylic floor wax to make it look awesome and very easy to maintain


It is important to test the concrete to see if it already has a sealer or curing compound on it. If it does it won't take the stain.

Go to the concrete sealer page for help on determining if it does and how to deal with this.

When washing the concrete DO NOT acid wash the floor, this will cause a reaction with the top layer of the cement paste and greatly reduce the ability to stain the floor.

Start by testing the colors you are using in an area that won't be seen much. Stained concrete reacts differently for each concrete floor.

The color charts will only be a general guide, a test area will give you real world results.

Apply the test area with a sponge, a 1:1 dilution with water usually works best, read the label on the container for exact mixing directions.

Let the sample area dry for 3 or 4 hours then wash off the residue with a wet sponge.

Use some baking soda and water to neutralize the acid. After the area is clean and wet you will get an idea of what the finished product will look like. If you like what you see move forward with repairing your concrete floor. If you have a new floor you can probably skip this part.

If you apply the acid stain to a floor with cracks, stains and other imperfections they will really stick out.

Small hairline cracks might look all right and give your floor character. Larger cracks should be patched by vacuuming it out removing any loose stuff.

Fill the concrete crack with an epoxy concrete repair filler, let it dry and scrape off any high spots. Sand it down until it is smooth and repeat this until all the cracks are repaired. Remove any unwanted rust stains and glue with your scraper and wire brush. A glue remover might work good also.

Wash the entire area with a good concrete cleaner and water (no acid wash here). Use the wet vac to suck up all the water, rinse the floor with clean water then dry again.

You might have to leave the floor to dry overnight so it is completely dry. When you come back the next day, vacuum one more time and you should be ready to stain.

The proper concrete surface preparation will make the staining seem easy. Great job!!

Click on CONCRETE ACID STAIN to learn how acid stain colors the concrete.

Click on HOW TO STAIN CONCRETE FLOORS to learn how to stain the concrete.


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