A Guide to Stained Concrete Patios

Tips and design ideas for using stains to enhance a concrete patio
Updated April 6, 2020

Artistic Concrete Floors LLC in Covington, LA.

Stained concrete is a cost-effective and versatile way to upgrade the look of both new and existing patios. With a stained concrete patio, you have the ability to add subtle hints of color, bolder design accents, and even custom graphics. Stains penetrate deeply into the concrete surface, producing fade-resistant, permanent color. Unlike paint, the color won't flake off or peel away.

Find contractors offering concrete staining near me.

Take a look at some staining work in our gallery of patio pictures.


Stains are effective in revitalizing dull, lackluster surfaces with minimal to no damage. An existing concrete slab with major cracks or spalling is usually not a good candidate for staining because any patchwork is likely to show right through the stain.

Like stains for wood, concrete stains are semi-transparent and are intended to enhance rather than disguise the surface. They will not hide cracks, blemishes or other flaws in existing concrete. Nor will they completely mask an underlying color or conceal the texture of the surface.

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Depending on the look you want to achieve for your stained concrete patio, you can choose from acid-based chemical stains or water-based stains.

Acid stains work by penetrating the surface and reacting chemically with the concrete. The acid in the stain lightly etches the surface, allowing it to penetrate more easily. Once the stain reacts, it becomes a permanent part of the concrete and won't fade, chip off or peel away. The palette for acid staining is generally limited to earthy tones, such as tans, browns, terra cottas and soft blue greens.

Water-based stains are good for going beyond the subtle drama of acid staining, since they come in a much broader spectrum of hues. Most manufacturers offer dozens of standard colors, including black and white and even metallic tints. Like acid stains, water-based stains (typically a blend of acrylic polymers and pigments) penetrate the concrete to produce permanent color, ranging from translucent to opaque.

Shop for Concrete Stains

Vintage America Acid Stain

Organic, antique patina, deep penetrating reactive stain.

Stone Tone Stain

10 color options. Resistant to chipping and fading.

Concrete Acid Stain

BRICKFORM Blush-Tone Acid Stain available in 10 standard colors

Find more concrete stains from leading manufacturers.

Southern Textures in Lexington, SC.


Prior to staining a patio, the surface needs to be prepped. Because concrete stains are translucent, they won’t hide color variations or unwanted stains from dirt, oil, grease, organic matter, or weather exposure.

Here are tips for removing some common types of stains:
Removing Embedded Oil from Concrete
Removing Organic Stains
How to Remove Leaf Stains from Concrete
Removing Fertilizer Stains on Concrete

Once the surface is clean, these are the steps involved in applying concrete stain:

  1. Apply the Concrete Stain
  2. Clean Up & Neutralize the Stain
  3. Add a Protective Coat of Sealer

Stained Concrete Originals in
Los Angeles, CA.

For more details: How to Stain Concrete

Staining your own concrete doesn’t always end in a beautiful finish. Find a concrete staining contractor near you that will deliver professional results.

Salzano Custom Concrete in Centreville, VA.


There are endless decorative effects you can achieve when using acid or water-based stains to spice up the look of your patio. Sometimes the best approach is to keep it simple, using just one stain color in a hue that will complement your home or landscape (see this example). Or you can be more daring and use multiple stain colors to create custom looks.

The most popular stain colors are natural earth tones. These colors in combination or on their own help create a look for your patio that will compliment the surrounding areas. If your patio is stamped to look like a different material, such as wood or stone, a natural colored stain can make the pattern more realistic.

See a stained concrete color chart


Basic concrete staining costs $2 - $4 per sq. ft., for a single color with minimal slab preparation. While this is a very cost-effective way to get a new look for your patio, the cost can increase as the preparation needs become greater, or the design calls for multiple colors, or custom graphics.

What Will I Pay for Stained Concrete?


Here are a few innovative design ideas to get you started:

Stained concrete patio before & afters



Patio Restored with Water-Based Stains

The textured concrete around this home was plagued by oxidation and erosion. Glen Roman of Staintec gave the sidewalks and patios new life by acid washing the concrete and then applying Newlook stains. A dark brown color was used for the borders while sand was used for the main fields.

Get the full story and see more pictures: Color Help for Oxidized Concrete Walkways and Patio



Stain Rejuvenates an Outdoor Seating Area

This patio in a business complex had plain gray concrete. To improve its appeal, the owners wanted to have it stained a more inviting color. J. Haydel of Scornstain LLC pressure washed the concrete and then applied Sim Stain followed by a solvent sealer. Now you don’t even recognize that the seating area is the same concrete, it looks like something completely new.

Get all the details: Sim Stain Concrete Stain: Before and After Photos


When choosing how you would like to add color to your patio, you can use a stain, or concrete paint. Painting your patio will give you a bold color even less than the cost of stain. Where stain will give you a permanent color that can be maintained with regular sealing, concrete paint is a short-term solution. Where stain will last for the life of your patio, paint will only last for a year with normal wear and tear.


When cleaning your stained concrete patio, follow these steps:

  1. Rinse dirt/debris off stamped concrete surface with a garden hose or pressure washer.
  2. Apply a small amount of liquid dish soap and scrub with a push broom.
  3. Rinse well with a garden hose or pressure washer until there is no sign of soapsuds.
  4. Dry surface completely with a leaf blower or wait 24 hours before sealing.

How to Stencil a Concrete Patio

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