How To Stain Concrete - Surface Preparation

Here is a step by step guide for you to learn how to stain concrete floors.

Keep in mind when applying acid stain to concrete floors the surface preparation is very important. Any blemishes, cracks, staining, glue or impressions in the concrete will not be hidden.

Acid stain creates translucent color effects on the concrete surface and will highlight any surface defects. Similar to applying stain to a piece of wood, the stain highlights the grain and any knots in the wood.

After you've cleaned the concrete, done all the surface preparation and tested a small area you'll be ready to start staining the concrete.


  1. Determine if the surface has any sealers or coatings on it. Pour a little water on it, if it beads up then it has a coating on it. Find some chemical strippers that can be mixed with water to remove the coating then proceed with cleaning.
  2. If the water soaks into the concrete, your ready for cleaning. The surface must be clean from all oil, grease, dirt, adhesives and other contaminants that can prevent the acid from etching into the surface.
  3. If you need to repair any portions of the concrete make sure the patch material is acrylic based with a low shrinkage material and make sure it will accept stain. The patch will show after the floor is stained and sealed, so keep that in mind when applying the patching material.
  4. Any glues or adhesives should be scraped off with a putty knife, they can be softened with a paint thinner.
  5. Use a buffing machine or floor sander with 60, 80, or 100 weight paper to open the pores of the surface. A hand sander might work also. This will allow for better stain penetration and enhance the staining process.
  6. Clean the concrete with TSP (tri-sodium phosphate), or another degreasing detergent like Dawn dishwashing liquid, by thoroughly scrubbing and washing the surface. Use the buffing machine again with dark colored strip pads and a wet vacuum to remove all the wet waste water inside.

Let dry 24 hours, the surface should now be clean and free from all residues and ready to accept the concrete stain.

If you've never done this and you're just learning how to stain concrete one thing to remember is that you are going to be working with a low strength acid.

It's not very hazardous, but you need to protect yourself. Wear a mask and safety goggles, cover your arms and legs, wear gloves and boots. The clothes you wear might get ruined with any over spray.

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

Click on HOW TO STAIN CONCRETE FLOORS to learn what you'll need for tools and the step by step guide on how you can do it yourself.


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