DIY concrete staining vs hiring a pro

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re you wondering if you should save money and stain your concrete yourself or spend more and hire a professional concrete expert? Concrete staining is not as simple as staining wood, for example, and we recommend doing your homework before tackling your concrete floors.

How Hard Is It To Stain Concrete?

Like many DIY projects, the steps for concrete staining are fairly easy, and the list of required tools is simple enough (goggles, sprayer, pressure washer, etc.). The important thing to remember before staining your concrete floor is that although the stain is permanent, so are the mistakes you'll potentially make.

The process of staining concrete is relatively simple to follow:

1. Clean and prepare the surface

2. Apply the stain

3. Clean up and neutralize the stain

4. Seal the floor

The process sounds simple to follow, but understanding the basics, from prep to final sealing, will prevent permanent mistakes.

If you have any doubts, the area is big, requires extensive preparation, or needs to incorporate multiple colors and effects, it's best to hire an experienced concrete floor installer.

Things That Can Go Wrong With DIY Staining

Tools

The tools required for staining are pretty simple. The difficulty comes from knowing how to apply the stains correctly using the tools. For example, if using acid stains, you will require acid-resistant brushes and spray equipment. If you use mops, rollers and squeegees or the proper technique, you risk leaving undesirable roller marks or streaks of color on the floor.

Surface Prep

We can't stress this enough, but correct surface prep, whether staining new or old concrete, will make or break the result. Old concrete floors can require extensive surface prep, depending on exposure to weather, spills, chemicals or the type of wear and tear received.

You need to remember that unlike paints, which can hide any defects in the floors, stains are translucent, and any residue that remains on the concrete surface will likely be visible after the staining process.

There are two ways to prepare concrete. We firmly believe that concrete grinding is the best way, as it removes dirt, grime and stains without reacting with the lime in the concrete. The acid washing method is more DIY accessible, but the acid can react with the lime in the concrete, preventing the acid stains from reacting properly and producing the desired color. Read more about concrete grinding vs. acid wash.

Stain Knowledge

There are two types of concrete stains on the market—acid stains and water-based stains. Both stains work differently, and you will need to know which stain is most appropriate for your project. Acid stains, for example, require machine concrete grinding for surface prep and also have different application and clean-up requirements, as they react chemically with the concrete to create a permanent bond.

Non-acid-based stains produce color by bonding with the concrete surface, producing a colored film or coating.

Stains Are Permanent

As we said, stains are permanent, and so are mistakes. Once the stain is down and has penetrated the concrete, there is no going back. It is best to do a sample area on the concrete you plan to stain to see an accurate representation of the color. Areas that will be stained need to be masked to prevent stains from staining areas that are not meant to be stained. Also, you need to be careful when removing tape from areas that have been stained, as tape can pull away the color or leave a residue behind, preventing the stain from reacting with the unstained concrete.

Correct Concrete Sealer

Stained floors need to be sealed for protection. The combability of the concrete sealer depends on the type of stain used. For acid stains, the stain needs to be neutralized before sealing, as the sealer might not be able to create a proper bond with the concrete.

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