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  • Ozark Patterned Concrete, Inc. in Lowell, AR
  • Skeel's Concrete Resurfacing in San Jacinto, CA
  • Infinity Concrete Coatings in Newport Beach, CA

Many people love the look of stamped concrete driveways, but you can also achieve similar decorative effects using stain alone. Staining is an economical and highly versatile way to upgrade the look of both new and existing concrete driveways. Unlike the shake-on colors often applied to newly placed stamped concrete, stains can be applied by hand after the concrete sets, giving contractors the ability to add subtle hints of color, bolder design accents, and even custom graphics. What’s more, because concrete stains penetrate deeply into the concrete surface, they produce fade-resistant, permanent color that won't flake off or peel away.

Depending on the look you want to achieve for your stained concrete driveway, you can choose from acid-based chemical stains or water-based stains. Acid stains penetrate and react chemically with the concrete, creating natural color variations that add character and unique mottling effects. However, the color selection is generally limited to subtle earth tones, such as tans, browns, terra cottas, and soft blue-greens. If you want to go beyond the subtle drama and subdued color palette of acid staining, consider using water-based stains, which come in a full spectrum of hues. In many cases, the different colors can be mixed, like water-based paints, to broaden your options.

Whether you use acid or water-based stains to enhance a concrete driveway, you can achieve an endless array of decorative effects using techniques such as faux finishing, decorative sawcuts, and stenciling. Here are some design ideas and project examples to spark your imagination.

Design ideas:

  • Apply multiple colors of stain to mimic the look of natural stone. This works especially well when the concrete is sawcut into random stone patterns.
  • Use stencils along with stain to create custom graphics.
  • Use sawcuts and stain to create a faux tile look.
  • Set off your driveway by adding a stained border in a contrasting color.
  • Use stains along with concrete dyes or integral color to create unique decorative effects.
  • Keep it simple by using just one stain color in a hue that will complement your home or landscape. This economical approach can still make a big impact.

See these stained concrete driveway projects:

Decorative Medallion Enhances Stained Concrete Driveway

The centerpiece of this gorgeous driveway is a multicolored star medallion created using acid stains in the colors of black, cola and tan. For the main driveway, the joints were cut to form a decorative border, and then acid stains were layered with water-based stains to create attractive color variations.

Stains Give Driveway a Rustic Look

Even a cracked concrete driveway can be revived with a coat of stain. In this case, a dark brown acid stain was applied to accentuate the existing cracks and achieve a rustic, leather-like look. The garage door was also faux painted to give it a similar rustic appearance.

Tile-Look Driveway Achieved Through Creative Staining

One of the easiest ways to dress up an existing driveway is to cut decorative patterns into the concrete. On this project, square saw cuts and multiple colors of acid stains were used to create the look of individual tiles.

A Miraculous Makeover

This driveway is the perfect example of how you can use concrete stains to completely revitalize existing concrete. The main field of concrete was colored with a water-based stain in Buffalo Brown, and then a decorative border was cut about 12 inches from the edge and stained with a lighter shade to coordinate with the color scheme of the home exterior.

Faux Finishing Transforms a Concrete Driveway

Custom engraving and faux finishing with water-based stains gave this existing plain-gray driveway curb appeal galore while complementing the exterior of the home. The lines for the faux brick border were created with a custom template, and then various colors of stain were applied to create the realistic color effects.

Related information: Concrete Stains
What Will I Pay for Stained Concrete?