What is the Best Concrete Stain

Posted by:

Ways to Stain Concrete

All customers want a great looking flooring surface, our job is to decide what is going to be the most functional, everlasting floor and achieve the client’s foreseen results.  Stained Concrete is made up of a large number of applications types, and a contractor should be versed enough to be able to perform many types of stained concrete, and give you an understanding of why a certain application is better than another.  So let’s take a look at a few ways you can stain a concrete floor.

Acid Stains – Dyes – Semi Polish- Full Polish

Acid Stained Concrete:  Acid Stain Concrete solutions use a mild acid to open the pores of the concrete so the metallic salts of the stain can have a chemical reaction with the free lime in the concrete. The Acid slowly eats away the free lime in the concrete paste around the sand particles.  Since this is a chemical reaction Acid stains produce a variety of colors when they react causing a naturally mottled look.  The stain is left to react to the Concrete paste for approximately 12hrs and the residue left behind must be cleaned off prior to sealing the floor.

Where Problems lie:  Acid Stains are to be applied to concrete already in place, both old concrete and new concrete after a 28 day cure time.  On older concrete floors no one really knows the history of the concrete slab and on new bigger floors the surface are sometimes troweled too tight to take a stain.  If a slab has a cure, cure and seal, or real tight finish….one can’t just apply acid to a floor and expect a great looking floor.

What happens to floors that get stained with a cure or tight finish?  Depending on the floor a number of things can happen.

–          The Acid eats away the free lime and there is nothing left to react with.  (With Acid Stain you only have one chance.

–          Nothing.  The concrete is so tight you slightly etch the floor and ruin a nice cream finish and get no color.

–          Nothing.  The Cure on the floor suspends the Acid from the concrete and there is no reaction.  Might turn white or kind of a yellow color from etching the cure.

It’s for this reason we run diamond grinders over the entire surface before anything is ever acid stained.  We can mechanically open the pores in the concrete and at the same time remove any kind of curing agent that’s on the floor

Sealers:  The most important aspect of stained concrete (And Dye and Seal applications that we will talk about in a moment) is the type of sealer that is applied over it.  The sealer keeps the stain in the floor and prevents it from “walking off”.  Often retailers at box stores or local painting companies suggest a solvent based 20% solids cure and seal.  Unfortunately this type of sealer does not provide the coating thickness required to preserve the floor and hardness to protect it.  This is why StoneCraft recommends multiple coats of a two component solvent based urethane at around 50% solids.  Although if vapor test were not tested on the floor a two component water based urethane is ideal.

  • StoneCraft general recommends going with a different option over acid stains. The reason is the Acid eats away the concrete paste on the flooring surface and weakens it.


Dye and Seal Concrete Staining.

A dye and Seal concrete application involves dispersing concrete dyes in solutions such as acetone onto a cleaned concrete floor. Acetone based stains or dyes also react with the concrete and provide the customer with more vibrant colors as well as more control of the final color compared to acid stains.  These stains are great for floors that require a more consistent color, but can also have the mottling effect if so desired.  This stain has the most versatility and vibrancy.


Semi-Polished Stained Floor.

A semi-Polished floor is a 5 step machining process using a Lavnia Concrete grinder/polisher.  The floor is prep with the machine to mechanically densify the floor and refine the surface of the concrete.  The process starts with 3 different set of varied grit diamond impregnated metal buttons and then 2 different set of diamond impregnated resin disc.  A water based concrete dye is then applied to the concrete to react and absorb in the concrete.  After the water based dye has dried, a guard product is applied to further protect the concrete and is then burnished into the floor.  There is no topical sealers to wear off in this process.  The color is in the floor, and the sheen comes from the refined concrete.

  • Best floor for high traffic areas where a floor isn’t flat enough for a full polish.

Full Polished Concrete Stained Floors.

Depending on the desired sheen of the floor, concrete polishing is an 8-12 step process.  3 set of Diamond metal bonds are ran across the floor with a Lavina Concrete grinder/polisher followed by varies grits of Resin bond diamonds up 3000 Grit.  A densify solutions is applied to the floor between 100 and 200 grit resin.  Between 200 and 400 grit resin the dye is added to the concrete to achieve the desired color and continue polishing up to 800 grit or beyond.  A guard product is applied to the concrete to further protect the concrete surface and the surface is burnished with a hogs hair pad.

  • Best floor for high traffic floors (Schools, hospitals, airports, retail, auto, ect).

For Concrete Staining in Wichita Ks or throughout the rest of the State, be sure to Contact StoneCraft Floors for all your flooring solutions.



  1. Chad - concrete consultant  November 18, 2011

    That is a great article to explain the differences in concrete flooring options. Many people think that polished concrete and stained concrete are one in the same….this isn’t the case as you explain in this article.

    As a concrete consultant I think it is best to explain to your client their options and what is in their best interest as far as use of the floor and cost. This article did a nice job of that


Add a Comment