"With Acid Based Concrete Stains every concrete slab is unique!"
|This was my first attempt years ago at acid staining on this broom finished patio.||Combination of cola and green acid stain with clear solvent based sealer.|
Acid based concrete stains consist mainly of water, HCl(hydrochloric acid), and metallic salts. When it hits the concrete, the acid etches the cement, allowing the metallic salts to penetrate and chemically bond with the concrete. The result of this reaction is a natural looking, permanent color that can't peel or flake.
Unlike paint, acid stains create a variegated or mottled look like marble. Color choice is limited to natural tones ranging form very deep brown to light tans, golden and blueish-green shades. You can use your creativity to make decorative color schemes and patterns.
The intensity of color can be somewhat controlled by diluting with water. We almost always ditute to 1 part stain:1 part water and sometimes as much as 1 part stain:8 parts water.
Applying acid stain with a plastic pump sprayer in circular motions is generally the preferred method. Brushes can be used for small areas.
Acid based concrete stains aren't new. They've been around for many years but were mainly used in commercial applications such as museum floors. In recent years, however, they have become increasingly popular for residential use.
Whether your concrete is old or new, acid based concrete stains can create a refreshing and unique look. It can be used on interior or exterior surfaces including:
Acid stains are transparent concrete stains. The concrete's surface textures and characteristics are still visible after staining which adds depth and a somewhat marbled look. But if your concrete has any scars, blemishes, or cracks they will also be apparent which is not necessarily a bad thing.
It adds character and uniqueness. Don't feel that you need perfect concrete for beautiful staining. Expect to have variations throughout because with acid stains, a completely uniform color is impossible.
Due to inconsistencies in the concrete surface and many other variables that come into play, no two slabs will ever stain exactly like. This is the biggest benefit of acid staining. Every project is a one of a kind.
The most challenging part is the unexpected surprises that happen due to inconsistecies. Pay close attention to the concrete during the prep and cleaning process. Water alone will reveal most of the variations. Anything that stands out on a wet surface is guaranteed to stand out when stained.
If there are cracks, don't bother fixing them prior to staining. You'll just make them look worse. Actually, cracks also add character. But if you are bothered by cracks, then you need to fill them with an epoxy crack filler and apply an overlay before acid staining.
Just as important as the stain itself is the sealcoat that goes on top. Why? Sealer makes the color "pop". Without it, acid stains are dull and relatively light in color.
If you choose to venture beyond basic staining, you can score the surface to make outlines and patterns. There are special tools for engraving concrete, but I've found that using an angle grinder with a 4 inch masonry grinding blade is fairly easy. Draw your lines with a pencil and then trace over them with a marker because the grinder blows the pencil dust away.
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Acid based concrete stains can be a great project for the do-it-yourselfer as long as you don't try to take on a job too difficult. You've probably been to other websites and seen pictures of immaculate staining designs with detailed color schemes and patterns. Some of these websites even offer videos telling the secrets of the pros.
But these jobs were done by highly skilled tradesmen and concrete artists. It's alot easier said than done. I don't mean to discourage anyone, but the stain is permanent and you don't want to mess it up because you took on more than you could handle. I recommend hiring a contractor if that's the type of work you're looking for.
Just know that simple coloring using simple techniques is all you need to give your drab concrete a wonderful new look.
When it comes to buying acid stains, most brands are good and will color concrete the way they're supposed to. Surface prep, application methods, and the condition of the concrete itself will determine the outcome. Acid stains can be hard to find so buying online is usually the easiest. Be sure to buy from a reputable company that provides Concrete Stain, Supplies, and instructions for use of thier products.
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