How to Stain an Interior Concrete Floor

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In recent years, concrete has gone from being the mainstay of industrial projects to a beloved material for interiors.
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It used to be that concrete floors were the stuff of warehouses, sidewalks, factories and other spaces that conjure images of machinery and industry. In recent years, however, concrete has gone from being the mainstay of industrial projects to a beloved material for interiors. Everything from walls, countertops and floors are made of concrete, even in luxury spaces. For those who want to keep the concrete floor in their space but want to change the color, painting or staining is an easy and affordable option.

Stained Concrete Floors Pros and Cons

Concrete can not only be smoothed and polished to a shine, but it can also be painted and stained to create patterns that evoke the feeling of natural wood or stone or covered with bright colors that lighten up a room.

When considering the pros and cons of a stained concrete floor, it's important to weigh your options. There are two types of stain that you can use on concrete: water-based or acid-based. You may prefer one over the other depending on the space you'll be staining, who will be using it and how.

Acid-Based Concrete Stain

Acid-based stain is generally the strongest kind of stain for concrete and leaves the richest color. It lasts longer and rarely chips, so it's considered to be more durable than a water-based concrete stain. However, acid-based stains generally have a more limited color palette than water-based stains. In fact, most acid-based stains are intended to mimic natural stone and are generally translucent.

Using an acid-based stain generally means that you'll need to have harsh chemicals in your space, so that may be a negative if you have pets or children. But, if you're looking for a concrete stain that mimics natural materials and will last for a long time, selecting an acid-based stain may be your best bet. Acid-based stain isn't difficult to apply and can be a fun project even for a beginning DIYer.

Water-Based Concrete Stain

Water-based concrete stains come in a variety of colors, shades and opacities and are less complex in terms of clean up and application than acid-based stains. They're also more environmentally friendly, nontoxic and, because the stain doesn't interact chemically with the concrete, the color you buy is more likely to look like the color you see on the floor.

DIY Stained Concrete Floors In a House

When it comes time to stain your floors, begin by prepping the surface. This means making sure that the concrete you're staining has sat and hardened for at least one month. It also means clearing all furniture, rugs and decor from the room. When the room has been cleared, sweep up any dirt, dust and debris from the floor and lightly mop the surface with a damp sponge mop.

Concrete floor stain is applied with a sprayer. If you're applying an acid-based stain, spray it evenly across the floor. Have someone else follow behind you with a rubber broom so they can work the stain into the floor. This will make the finish look most consistent. Once the stain dries, apply another coat in the same way. Make sure you have protective eyewear, gloves and plenty of ventilation in the space.

The same method is used when applying a water-based stain, although you don't need to work the stain into the concrete with a brush. Some concrete is more porous and will take on the color more easily. Depending on the way the stain looks after it dries, you may want to add additional coats.

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Ashley Friedman

Ashley Friedman

Ashley Friedman is a freelance writer with experience working in the home, design and interiors space.