Do it Yourself Acid Stain


Acid staining can decorate concrete flooring in garages as well as concrete sidewalks and patios. It is a way to transform old, blemished concrete into an attractive, manageable space. The stain etches the surface by chemically reacting with minerals in the concrete, providing a one-of-a-kind coloration for each application. Although new concrete leads to the most vibrant acid stains, most of the imperfections in older concrete are desirable for the variations they leave in the final finish of an acid stain. Acid-stained concrete flooring is durable and long lasting with only minor maintenance necessary.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape
  • Plastic in rolls
  • Push-broom
  • Rubber boots
  • Rubber gloves
  • Goggles
  • Breathing mask
  • Sealer stripper (optional)
  • Mop
  • Mop bucket
  • De-greaser
  • Concrete acid stain
  • All-plastic sprayer
  • Baking soda
  • Litmus paper
  • Concrete sealer
  • Sealer applicator sprayer


  • Tape plastic to all surfaces that meet the concrete. Acid stain turns wood black and eats through metal. Sweep the concrete free of dirt and other debris; a push-broom works well for that task. Wear rubber boots, rubber gloves and goggles for protection against splashing stripper or acid stain. Also wear a breathing mask.

  • Splash a small amount of water on the concrete to determine whether or not it is sealed. Water droplets absorb into concrete that isn't sealed. If the concrete is sealed, apply sealer stripper. Remove all the residue, and mop the concrete clean.

  • Apply de-greaser to the concrete, and then mop the concrete clean. Allow the concrete to dry. Sweep away remaining residue.

Staining and Sealing

  • Distribute concrete acid stain evenly on the concrete using an all-plastic sprayer. Use the push-broom to prevent the stain from pooling. Allow the stain to stand for the length of time recommended by the product specifications, which is usually four hours.

  • Neutralize the acidic process with a mixture of water and baking soda. Use about one box of baking soda per one mop bucket of water. Mop away all the residue with clean water. Place litmus paper on the cleaned concrete to check its pH level. The pH level needs to be between 5.5 and 9. Each wash should lower the pH level, and so repeat the process if necessary. Allow the entire concrete area to dry.

  • Apply concrete sealer with a sealer applicator sprayer. Allow the first coat of sealer to dry completely. Apply a second coat of sealer, and allow the finished concrete to dry.

Tips & Warnings

  • Using a wet-dry vacuum assists in removing the baking soda and water mixture, and it speeds up the drying process.
  • Extend the life of an acid-stained concrete floor by applying one or more coats of wax to the newly sealed floor.
  • Test the acid stain in an inconspicuous area before staining an entire concrete surface.
  • Use a fan to help with ventilation.
  • Ensure ventilation is adequate for this project.
  • Don't leave brushstrokes with the push-broom used to spread the acid stain.
  • Don't use push-brooms with metal parts because the acid stain corrodes metal.

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  • Photo Credit Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images Hemera Technologies/ Images George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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