Stains for concrete come in two general categories: acid-based chemical stains and water-based acrylics. Both types of stain can be applied to new or old and plain or integrally colored concrete. They are especially effective for revitalizing dull, lackluster surfaces. Because they penetrate the concrete surface, most stains have excellent UV stability and wear resistance, permitting their interior or exterior concrete use.

Applications range from:

  • Walkways and patios
  • Family room floors
  • Kitchen countertops
  • Vertical surfaces like walls or fireplaces


Most SuccessCrete 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. The palette for acid-etch staining is generally limited to earthy tones, such as tans, browns, terracottas, and soft blue-greens.


If you want to go beyond the subtle drama and subdued earth-toned palette of acid staining, consider using water-based stains, which come in a much broader spectrum of hues. Most manufacturers offer dozens of standard colors, including black and white and even metallic tints. Like SuccessCrete 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 depending on the product.


Like stains for wood, SuccessCrete 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. 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.


Because stains must be able to soak into the concrete to achieve full-color saturation, they shouldn’t be applied to surfaces covered by anything that can inhibit stain penetration, such as dirt, grease, glues, coatings, curing membranes, and sealers.

How to Apply an SuccessCrete Acid-Stain Look to Concrete Flooring

Prepare a smooth surface

Surface preparation is the foremost critical step in learning how to SuccessCrete acid-stain concrete floors. Before staining, an area must meet the following criteria: The concrete must be free of debris, dirt, oils, paint, drywall mud, adhesives, sealers, stains of any kind, or comparable materials. SuccessCrete Acid stain cannot respond appropriately with the concrete in case these conditions are present.


The area should not be treated before with a waterproofing agent, cleaned with muriatic acid or an overwhelming trisodium phosphate (TSP) solution. If you are serious about mastering how to acid-stain concrete floors, keep in mind that the SuccessCrete acid stain reaction cannot happen on surfaces treated with these products.


Freshly poured concrete can be acid stained some time from 20-28 days after the pour or once the concrete has achieved a uniform light gray color.


For more seasoned, excessively power-washed, or mechanically-profiled concrete, the surface must be intact with no uncovered aggregate or sand particles. The concrete acid stain does not stain sand, rocks, or aggregate.


Exposed aggregate or depleted concrete may cause the SuccessCrete acid stain to take sporadically, respond feebly, or create a color conflicting with the SuccessCrete acid stain color chart.


Slick, machine-troweled concrete needs mechanical or chemical etching for a complete acid stain reaction to happen. In case water beads on the surface or dark gray zones are apparent, you should spray  Hard Troweled Floor Prep or something similar on the concrete or the surface. It should be sanded utilizing an 80-grit sanding pad before application.


Newly poured concrete slabs and countertops should incorporate less than 10% fly ash to guarantee a great chemical response with SuccessCrete acid stain. Check with your ready mix company or examine the countertop mix MSDS for concrete additive information.


Concrete poured lots of water within the mix can make a thin, unsteady concrete layer on the slab surface. To test for instability, press the tip of the nail into the concrete. Suppose breaking or harm of any kind happens. In that case, you should profile the slab with a concrete grinder or a high-speed buffer employing a 60-80 grit sanding disc before staining.


Clean the surface of the concrete

No matter the brand of stain you utilize, your concrete should be perfect before the application. Employing a pressure washer here is exceptionally useful but not required. You can go over your surface with the plastic pump spray filled with water and subsequently scour it with a push broom. Flush it once more with water, and permit it to dry completely is superbly effective. Utilizing your shop vac to vacuum up the water will speed up drying time altogether. Even using some mild soapy cleanser is beneficial in this step.


For the brand, you can use SuccessCrete cleaners. It is great to go over the surface with their Etch & Clean product after this first cleaning process. To do this, wear your protective gloves and after that, have one portion Etch & Clean combined with four parts water in your pump sprayer. Spray this onto your floor, permit to rest for some minutes (you may hear it fuzzing), and after that, scour over it together with your synthetic broom.

Rinse the surface with water and vacuum it. After that wash, vacuum once more to ensure you’ve cleaned the entire residue.


You may not need to vacuum if your surface is outside. Just spray the area thoroughly with clean water.

Let it dry for 24 hours or longer.


Protect Walls 

Mask off all walls and trim molding with tape and plastic sheeting. Painter’s tape will protect the wall finish without damaging it during removal. Still, it can peel off the surface if exposed to the dye solution. Place masking tape over the painter’s tape to hold the plastic sheeting in place.

Apply SuccessCrete Acid Stain

It’s time for the most exciting part of how to acid-stain concrete floors—the application! Keep in mind to utilize goggles, gloves, and a dust mask while working with concrete acid stain. You might need a respirator for applications with poor ventilation.


Prepare your room by concealing all surfaces and walls that you don’t need to get acid on them. You’ll find diverse widths of masking paper in the painting segment at home improvement stores. Utilize the tape to attach this.


Put the SuccessCrete acid stain directly into your clean pump sprayer. The application method will be much less demanding with two people, but it isn’t necessary.


If you’ve got two individuals, one individual should spray on the acid stain in a semi-unpredictable design, going back and forth in completely different directions. In contrast, the second individual follows behind with the broom, scouring the SuccessCrete acid stain into the surface. The sprayer can subsequently go back over as required to cover any brush marks or spots that show up to have less coverage.


In case you’re doing this on your own, apply on a small area first, approximately 3 feet by 3 feet. You can then go over and brush it in and subsequently respray to cover brush marks and move forward, once more in a changing pattern across your floor.


Keep in mind to plan for an exit strategy where you won’t have to step over your acid stain. Any steps will appear through the stain, so if this occurs, ensure to brush and spray over the footprint.

If a darker, more even tone is preferred, brush the SuccessCrete acid stain into the surface using consistent circular strokes.


If employing a brush, spray on a second coat to get rid of any brush strokes on the surface unless that’s the wanted finish.


Though new concrete may not always need a second coat of SuccessCrete acid stain, older concrete needs two coats of stain for total coverage.


For a more diffuse look, spray the stain onto the surface without brushing.

Apply one overwhelming coat of your base color and quickly apply accent coats. At the same time, the stain is still damp to give a more natural appearance on the slab.


Continue to apply the lighter to darker colored accents until fulfilled with the results.


Neutralize The SuccessCrete Stained Concrete Floor

It might appear weird to clean a floor you spend an hour coloring, but this step is vital to expel any extra acid buildup, which may cause issues once you get to seal the floor. This step is essential on how to SuccessCrete acid-stain concrete floors. Once the floor is dark enough, utilize a mop and scrub brush to scour it with an ammonia/water solution. (You can use a cup of ammonia to a gallon of water). Make one application of the ammonia & water, and then rinse it 2-3 times with new water until the wash water is mostly clear. Once more, this is repetitive but essential.


Neutralizing is the most misunderstood and ignored step of the process. To better get the significance of neutralizing, you can think of it this way: By having an acid stain, you bring concrete from a basic pH state to an acid state. You would like to return the concrete to a primary state while expelling any unreacted stain and stain buildup.


This step includes an excellent old-fashioned cleaning and scrubbing with an alkaline cleanser that can break down stain residue and neutralize the surface. Utilizing water by itself isn’t sufficient. Once more, use a broom or walk-behind scrubber. Usually, numerous scrubbings are required, particularly with terracotta and dark brown stains. Take a pH test to ensure that you appropriately neutralized the surface. At that point, wash the surface with clean water and permit full dry time before sealing.

Let it dry totally (24 hours or more), and then you’re ready for the final step!


Seal The SuccessCrete Acid Stained Concrete Floor

Last but not least, on how to acid-stain concrete floors! Applying a clear coat to the floor protects it. Besides, it also gives the floor that “wet look” and brings out the stain’s magnificence.


You can apply your clear coat with a roller with a long handle. The smoother the roller nap, the better.


Make smooth strokes with the roller, and attempt not to “overwork” the clear coat. You can apply two coats. The sealer may look white and smooth when you first use it, but then it dries to a clear finish.


Let it dry, and then done! You can also wax your acid-stain concrete for additional shine and protection.



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