Many people are opting out of carpet for their homes and choosing to acid stain their concrete floors instead. Not only does this help reduce allergens in the home, but acid stained concrete is very beautiful, resembling a marble finish, if done correctly. Acid staining new concrete is obviously the best idea for time's sake, but the steps to prep your floors are included if you have existing flooring.
Pull up all carpet and carpet padding. Roll up and dispose of these properly. Take up any other flooring that you are replacing. The baseboards should be removed as well.
Using the wrecking bar and hammer, pull all tacking and carpet nails out of the concrete.
This process will probably take chunks out of the concrete so you will need to use a ready mix concrete to patch these spots. Follow the mixing directions on the package. Use a paint spatula to patch the holes where ever they appear. You must allow this new concrete to dry completely. Do not worry about any hairline cracks in the concrete since this will actually add to the character of the acid stain. Major cracks should be filled with concrete patch.
When completely dry, sand the floor until smooth. You must then vacuum up loose debris and mop the concrete several times so nothing is left. Let dry completely.
Cover the walls with plastic, using masking tape to secure. If you're going to repaint the walls, you should do this last.
Research and purchase the stain. Choose colors that will blend with your decor since this is permanent and can't be changed like paint. Remember, the product must be acid stain, otherwise you'll have nothing but a painted looking surface.
Begin in the area of the room furthest from the door and make your way toward the door, so that you will not need to step in the areas where you have already applied stain.
Open all available windows as this process creates a strong odor as it eats at the concrete. Follow the directions on the gallon. You will mix this with water. You must use an all plastic sprayer such as a garden pest sprayer. This acid cannot contact metal. The really small all-plastic hand sprayers, the ones you would use to mist plants are the best. Using these there is more control over where the stain ends up. When the acid process is complete you will need to wipe the excess acid off. You can then put a second coat on and repeat the wipedown.
Don't be shocked at what the concrete looks like immediately after the acid staining process is complete. It will be ugly. It will look like rust. Keep in mind the true beauty will not immerge until the sealer is applied.
Concrete must dry completely before adding the polyurethane. Use a water based polyurethane to seal the floor. Apply two coats with a smooth paint roller. Use a large paint brush to smooth out the bubbles.
Hint: During the sealing process it is best to have two people. One will roll a small area with the paint roller while the other uses the large paint brush to smooth out the bubbles. Again begin in the area furthest from the door.