If you're considering whether you really want to cover your concrete floors with carpet, vinyl, tile or other expensive floor coverings, you might want to consider staining the concrete itself. Staining is one of the most popular ways to liven up a dull gray concrete floor. Combined with sandblast etching, sawing and other creative touches. staining can yield breath-taking results. So if you didn't put stain into the concrete when it was poured, there's still time to create exciting colorful floors from the bare concrete.
Staining contractors recommend that concrete be allowed to cure for 28 to 30 days before applying stain. Curing agents can speed this process, but will need to be removed before you stain the concrete. Because of the difficulty in removing curing agents, it is not recommended that you apply these if you plan to stain the slab. It will be far more economical too simply wait to stain and let it cure naturally.
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Pour a glass of water so that it spreads out over a couple of feet of the concrete and wait five minutes. If the concrete is darkening it is absorbing the water. You just need to sweep and mop and you're ready to go. Although unlikely on a newly placed slab, if the water does bead up, you probably have curing agents, sealants, waxes or other coatings that will need to be removed first. Some degreasing is probably wise, using a mild acidic detergent or special concrete cleaner designed for the job. Don't acid etch the concrete. This will use up free lime in the concrete that is needed to bond the stain.
Stain will not hide imperfections in the concrete, but will, in fact, enhance them. In older concrete this may have aesthetic benefits. In a new pristine slab, you may want to use stencils and sandblast etching, sawing or other technique to add visual interest to the slab before staining. The stain will accentuate such techniques and add visual interest to the floor design.
Dyes and Tints
Dyes and tints can be used hand in hand with chemical stains to darken or lighten colors, provide color variations or create brighter colors than is possible with stains. If dyes or tints you use aren't resistant to ultraviolet, they can be coated with an ultraviolet resistant sealer that will make them colorfast.
Once you're finished staining the slab, neutralize with water and baking soda, scrub the floor with a medium brush and rinse. Dry completely before sealing and waxing with sealer and two coats of non-yellowing wax.