If you’ve been staring at your plain slab of concrete and trying to think of ways to spruce it up that don’t cost an arm and a leg you may want to consider staining it. Other methods of decorating concrete can get quite costly because they usually involve either ripping out the existing concrete or applying overlays. Staining concrete, on the other hand, allows you to make the concrete beautiful and add another decorative dimension to your outdoor living space without a huge expense.
Staining concrete is easy to do, however it does require careful planning to make sure you are getting the right kind of concrete stain. Concrete stains come in two basic varieties – acid stains and acrylic stains. Acid stains actually react with the lime in the surface of the concrete, while acrylic stains seep into the pores in the concrete. Each type of stain gives a different effect and works better for particular applications and tastes. Here are some tips for choosing between acid stain and acrylic stain for staining concrete.
Acid stain is the most unpredictable of the two types of stains. Because it reacts with the lime in the concrete you can never predict how it will come out. It provides a mottled, natural looking surface with variations in color. Acid stains are great for getting a natural look that has lots of character. However, there are a few times that you should avoid using acid stain. First, if your concrete has imperfections acid stains will actually make the imperfections more noticeable. Depending upon your tastes this may be a desirable effect or it may not. Second, if your concrete is really old (15-20 years or more) you probably will want to opt for an acrylic stain instead. Over time the lime washes away out of your concrete. The acid stain requires lime to react with and if it has all washed away from your concrete you won’t get the results that you want.
Acrylic stains work by seeping down into the pores of the concrete. They are better for hiding imperfections or patch jobs since they provide more opaque coverage than an acid stain. On extremely smooth concrete that has been troweled until it is nearly polished you may want to choose an acid stain instead since there will not be many pores for an acrylic stain to seep into.
Finally, concrete stain can be rather unpredictable as far as exactly what color or shade it will come out. Try to choose a color that compliments your home, but don’t plan on finding an exact match since even if you do match the stain in the can it probably won’t match perfectly once you apply it.
With a bit of planning, proper preparation of the concrete and some elbow grease you can have your concrete looking beautiful in no time at all simply by staining it.