How to Acid Stain Basement Concrete

Acid staining is a simple, inexpensive and rugged way to finish a basement floor. Most stains come in earth-tone shades that give the concrete a look of quarried stone. Acid allows the pigment to penetrate the normally repellent concrete, but take care to add a sealer over the stain later to protect the floor from water damage afterwards. Results are dependent on the quality of the concrete and the preparation of the floor prior to staining.

  • Broom
  • De-greaser
  • Sponge
  • Concrete patching material
  • Putty knife
  • Concrete cleaner
  • Stiff bristle brush
  • Mop and bucket
  • Plastic paint sprayer
  • Acid stain
  • Plastic sheeting and tape
  • Long-handled bristle brush
  • Paint roller
  • Extension pole
  • Polyurethane sealer
  • Paint tray
Clean the basement floor by thoroughly sweeping up any dust, dirt or debris. Check the floor for foreign substances or spills. Stains from oil, paint, grease or other compounds will affect the look of the acid stain. Use a de-greaser or heavy cleaner and sponge to remove as much of the stain as possible.

Fill any cracks or chips on the concrete floor. Acrylic-based concrete patching material is available at most hardware and home improvement stores. Apply the patching material by feathering the material across the crack or depression and smoothing it out with a putty knife.

Wash the floor with concrete cleaner, water and a stiff brush to remove any other chemicals that may be on the floor. Mop the floor with fresh water to remove most of the cleaner and allow the floor to dry fully for at least 24 hours.

Apply the stain using a paint sprayer and start at the furthest point while working toward the door. All-plastic sprayers work best and are more resistant to the corrosive effects of the stain than metal sprayers. Tape plastic sheeting over walls before spraying in corners.

Use a long-handled bristle brush to scrub the stain slightly while it is still wet. This will help the stain bond to the concrete and also create a slight texture to the floor. Allow the stain to dry for the duration listed in the manufacturer's instructions. The longer you wait, the better the result will be.

Coat the floor with a polyurethane sealer to lock the stain onto the concrete and give it a more finished look. This is best applied using a roller on an extension pole, starting at the far end and working toward the exit. Allow sealer to dry for 24 hours before allowing heavy traffic through the basement.

Tips and Warnings

  • Cover areas you don't want stained. Use drop cloths or plastic sheeting to protect unstained surfaces.
  • Wet the concrete prior to spraying to achieve a lighter color stain.

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