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Concrete Stain Application Tips
Time: 05:31
Watch an overview of how to stain concrete using acid stains.

Acid stains are one of the oldest ways to color concrete.

Most acid stains are a mixture of water, hydrochloric acid, and acid-soluble metallic salts. They work by penetrating the surface and reacting chemically with the hydrated lime (calcium hydroxide) in the concrete. The acid in the stain lightly etches the surface, allowing the metallic salts 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.

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Water Based vs. Acid Stains: A look at new water-based stains for concrete and how they compare to traditional acid stains

Acid base concrete stain is very versatile and can be used on the following:

  • Indoor or outdoor surfaces
  • Old or new concrete that has fully cured
  • Cement-based overlays
  • Vertical concrete
  • Concrete countertops

Hire a contractor offering concrete staining near me.


Like stains for wood, acid-based stains are translucent and the color they produce will vary depending on the color and condition of the substrate they are applied to. Each concrete slab will accept the stain in varying degrees of intensity, creating natural color variations that bring character and distinction to each project.

What acid stains don't offer is a broad color selection. You'll mostly find them in a limited array of subtle earth tones, such as tans, browns, terra cottas, and soft blue-greens.

These sample colors from Kemiko Decorative & Industrial Floor Finishes can give you an idea of the types of hues available.

Aqua Blue
English Red
Garden Gold
Golden Wheat
Green Lawn
Malay Tan
Vintage Umber

Acid Stain Color Chart (PDF).

Tips for getting great color:

  • Try a small test spot to make sure you like the color.
  • Dilute stains for more subtle colors.
  • Blend stains to create custom shades.
  • Layer multiple colors for custom effects.

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Vintage America Acid Stain Organic, antique patina, deep penetrating reactive stain.
Acid Stain by Surfkoat Makes up to 2 gallons. Great for marble look.
Stain-Crete by Increte 9 standard colors. Useful for old or new concrete.
Elements® Transparent Concrete Stain Water-based, environmentally and user-friendly
Concrete Stain + Sealer in One Waterproof, strengthen, preserve and beautify in one step
Stone Tone Stain 10 color options. Resistant to chipping and fading.
Concrete Acid Stain BRICKFORM Blush-Tone Acid Stain available in 10 standard colors
Eco-Friendly, UV-Resistant Stains 15 non-reactive colors that transform concrete.
Semi-Transparent Concrete Stain Eco-Stain by SureCrete, water-based, 30 UV-stable colors.


You can buy acid stains from big box stores. But if you're looking for professional grade products, it's better to purchase from a construction or concrete supply store or order directly from the manfacturer. Many high-quality stains can be purchased online and shipped to your door.

When purchasing stain, pay attention to whether the formula is concentrated or ready-to-use. Concentrated stains need water added before application, and come in smaller packages. Also check coverage rates to determine how much stain you will need for your project.

Acid stains require neutralization to stop the chemical reaction. Use a solution of water and either baking soda, T.S.P, or ammonia and rinse thoroughly. So remember to have these supplies on hand as well when acid staining concrete.

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