What is stained concrete?
Stained concrete appeals to many people who want to achieve unique decorative effects for a reasonable cost. For as little as $2 per square foot, you can use stains to create an infinite array of colors and special effects on both interior and exterior surfaces. Concrete stain does more than simply add color. Rather than produce a solid, opaque effect like paint or colored coatings, stains permeate the concrete to infuse it with rich, deep, translucent tones. Some stain manufacturers use adjectives such as "antiqued," "variegated," or "mottled" to describe the distinctive look. Even when treated with the same staining product in the same shade, no two concrete floors, walls, or countertops will look alike due to factors such as the composition and age of the concrete and surface porosity.
Can all concrete be stained?
Both acid and water-based stains can be applied to new or old and plain or integrally colored concrete. They can also be used both indoors and out, on everything from concrete floors and kitchen countertops to pool decks and driveways.
The most important consideration is the condition of the surface. If the concrete is covered by grime, glues, coatings, curing membranes, or sealers that inhibit the stain from soaking in, the stain won't be able to penetrate and achieve full color development.
What are my color options with stained concrete?
Your color options will vary depending on whether you are using an acid or water-based stain. With acid stains, your color choices will be limited. Most manufacturers offer only eight hues, mostly subtle earth tones, such as tans, browns, terra cottas, and soft blue-greens. Although the basic color palette is sparse, you can mix two or more stain colors before application to achieve a different shade or apply one color over another. You can also produce deeper color effects with a stain by applying two coats.
If you want to go beyond the subtle drama and subdued color palette of acid staining, water-based acrylic stains will give you a wider spectrum of hues to choose from. Most manufacturers offer dozens of standard colors, including black and white and even metallic tints. And in many cases, the different colors can be mixed, like water-based paints, to broaden your options.