DIY: Acid Staining Concrete

First off, let me just say this was by far the largest DIY project I (with my Dad being the majority contributor) have tackled to date. Our six raised garden beds were a large project with the sub-irrigation system (I tend to over-engineer things), but the acid staining concrete was messier and had to be done in a condensed time frame, so that makes it the winner…..the winner of being kind of a freaking mess dirty job.

However, in spite of the amount of effort, it was all worth it. We love the floor. It’s good-looking, durable, permanent (acid stain is not a basic surface stain, it becomes part of the concrete), and requires little to no maintenance. What’s there not to love about that? Would I do it again? Umm, actually, I think I would now that a little time has passed (close to 2 years). It’s probably a similar time frame to deciding if you want to have another baby–once the memory of the labor fades, you think it would be alright to repeat it. LOL But, I really think the floor looks awesome. And, considering that our kitchen flooded and it rained on the basement floor 6 months after we moved in, the effort we did not have to put into redoing any flooring down there made it all worth it (we also painted the rafters so the whole thing has a “loft” look, which meant no sheet rock was ruined during the flooding debacle).

After obsessive Google searches and researching, I decided upon Concrete Camouflage. They seemed to have the widest variety of true acid stains, matte finish sealants and waxes, and lots of good information on how to do this. We did order a few samples to test out on cinder blocks when trying to pick a color. I’m glad we did, even though we picked the color I suspected we would. It was still good to see them in real life.

The one thing I underestimated was how hard it would be to completely remove the epoxy seal that is put on new concrete to facilitate curing, particularly in the winter months as ours was. I had visions of scraping it off like nail polish, possibly needing a little orange stripping liquid to assist. I was profoundly wrong. That stuff wasn’t going anywhere without some real power. So, Dad and I hopped in his truck and rented a diamond floor sander. We had no idea how to use one, what they looked like, or what we were really about to do. This had not come into my radar until day 1 of the project and I realized it was the only way we would be able to stain the concrete successfully. That stupid epoxy had to come off. Completely. Ugh.

The diamond sander made us realize that we would have been attempting to remove the epoxy for a minimum of 4 years with any other method. We were pretty beat when we finished. Nothing was brutally difficult, it just went on and on and on. Sanding, wet vac cleaning, sanding, wet vac cleaning, rinse and repeat. Of course, I was plugging along with a soon to be diagnosed thyroid deficiency and Dad’s chronic leukemia was making a comeback, so we were both like zombies by the time we finished. Had I known Dad would pass away just under a year later after completing this project, I may not have joked about trying to kill him. Eh, who am I kidding? I would have still made the jokes, but probably would have quietly boohooed a little after each one. That’s how we roll(ed). Regardless of what happened later, we were on a mission to get this floor done in spite of the fact that we both secretly wondered if we had bitten off more than we could chew. There was no turning back. LOL

I will simplify the steps below, but go here for videos and details. I am an affiliate for Concrete Camouflage, so if you purchase through this link, you may help pay for tiny bit of my web hosting fees. :) Concrete Stain & Supplies

1. Remove any sealant from the concrete floor. It must be porous or the acid stain will not soak in. If water soaks in pretty quickly, you’re good. If not, get to work.
2. Clean/mop floor to remove any dust or debris.
3. Use an acid proof sprayer (1-2 gallon size) and spray on an even layer of stain. Allow to dry at least 12 hours. We finished in the evening and left it overnight.
4. Neutralize the stain with water and baking soda.
5. Rinse well.
6. Clean/mop floor to remove any dust or debris.
7. Roll on sealant of choice and allow to dry between coats.
8. Add wax if desired. I used CC’s mop-on wax and a lambs wool applicator. This just added another level of depth to the color. Really finished it off nicely.

Diamond sanding and wet vac festival
Diamond sanding and wet vac festival

Concrete after epoxy removal
Concrete after epoxy removal

Concrete after acid had dried overnight
Concrete after acid had dried overnight

Cleaning up after neutralizing the acid
Cleaning up after neutralizing the acid

Getting ready to add sealer
Getting ready to add sealer

Finished!!!
Finished!!!

Close up of before vs after
Close up of before vs after

Little man was supposed to hand me the flowers, but took them to Papa instead. He deserved them. :)
Little man was supposed to hand me the flowers, but took them to his Papa instead. He deserved them. :)

 

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