Things You'll Need
Plastic garden sprayer
Water-based concrete stains are solutions mixed at home and applied to concrete to change its color or tone. Homeowners may choose to stain their concrete to reinvigorate their home's look and feel, or to help their driveway and walking paths match the overall color scheme of their house or landscape. Discover how to apply a stain properly to ensure a rich, even color that lasts a long time.
Wash the concrete. If the concrete has been freshly poured and set, you may just rinse it down with a garden hose. If you are staining concrete that has been in use for a while, you should wash it thoroughly with a pressure washer. Debris left on the concrete during the staining process will reduce the overall quality of the stain.
Wait for the concrete to dry thoroughly. Depending on your local weather and humidity, this may take up to 24 hours.
Mix the water-based concrete stain. The stain comes in a bottle or bucket in powder form. Empty a dosage of the powder into a hand-held garden sprayer or applicator, the same type used to spray liquid fertilizer or herbicides. Add water according to the specific measurement instructions provided by the stain's manufacturer, as every staining product varies in its concentration. Use the measurement marks on the outside of the garden sprayer to ensure you're using the right amount of water. Mix thoroughly.
Spray the concrete with the stain. Use slow strokes in a back-and-forth motion to cover the concrete evenly. The concrete should be thoroughly soaked, but not enough to cause actual puddles of staining solution.
Allow the stain to set and dry for 12 hours. After setting, apply a second coat of the stain by repeating steps 3 and 4. Allow to dry thoroughly for 24 hours.
Seal the stain. Concrete sealant helps lock the staining pigment into the concrete to reduce fading. Apply the sealant using a garden sprayer or paintbrush, depending on the specific instructions of the sealant manufacturer. Let the sealant dry for 24 hours before resuming use of the concrete.
Use a silica-based coloring powder rather than a water-based concrete stain if you haven't poured the concrete yet. Such alternatives to staining are more vibrant and permanent.
Joshua Duvauchelle is a certified personal trainer and health journalist, relationships expert and gardening specialist. His articles and advice have appeared in dozens of magazines, including exercise workouts in Shape, relationship guides for Alive and lifestyle tips for Lifehacker. In his spare time, he enjoys yoga and urban patio gardening.