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Secrets to Achieving Great Results

10 tips for applying concrete stains

Do-It-Yourself Staining Video

Length - 06:19

It's easy to achieve great results with stains if you've acquired all the basic tools and materials you'll need and you've cleaned the surface thoroughly. But there are some basic rules of thumb you should follow to ensure a beautiful staining job. Remember that if your project is large or complex, you may be better off hiring a pro.

  1. Always apply a test sample of stain to a small, inconspicuous area of the concrete to be treated. Because so many variables can affect the final color, that's the only way to get an accurate preview of the finished look.
  2. If you plan to stain new concrete, wait at least 14 days after concrete placement before applying a chemical stain. Concrete can retain excess moisture in the first month while it's curing. Staining before the 14-day time frame has elapsed could produce colors that will not match the color chart provided by the manufacturer.
  3. Always follow the stain manufacturer's directions. Acid-based stains often have different requirements than acrylic stains for surface preparation, application, and cleanup. Manufacturers can also recommend the best application tools and coverage rates for their products.
  4. To avoid start and stop lines, always try to maintain a wet edge while applying stains. One way to achieve this is by dividing the floor into small sections, using the joints in the concrete as starting and stopping points.
  5. If you are using a sprayer to apply stain, a conical tip—which sprays the liquid in a cone pattern as opposed to a fan spray—produces better results without leaving distinguishable spray patterns.
  6. While spraying stain, never to get the tip too close to the surface of the concrete. Spray at a distance no closer than 12 inches. Otherwise, dark splotches can occur from the stain reacting too quickly.
  7. Avoid overapplication, which can create buildup, especially on less-porous concrete surfaces and when using darker stain colors.
  8. When using an acid-based stain, be sure to neutralize the surface after application.
  9. Don't expect color consistency or perfection. Variations are inherent in the staining process.
  10. To preserve your handiwork, be sure to protect your newly stained surface with a sealer, and reapply protective coatings as necessary.
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