DIY : How To Stain Concrete Floors

by Laura on August 17, 2012

Before buying our new home we knew the current floor HAD to go.

I, of course, wanted hardwood flooring throughout…Markie Mark reigned me in to the idea of concrete.

 

I searched the Internet for awhile.
I looked at several commercial flooring companies and reviews, and Kemiko seemed to stand out .
This is a color chart for all their stains. We chose Black Stain. It’s not really black, it’s dark brown with some very dark brown/blackish marbling that occurs.

{I will have Aqua Blue Stain somewhere!!}

We purchased our Kemiko Stain & Sealer from Rooster’s Paint on South Congress, Austin TX


Steps to Stain Concrete:
1. Floor Prep – crucial to have clean, dust free surface so that the stain can work right.
2. Apply Stain with correct tools.
3. Clean the concrete again!
4. Seal Seal Seal, and for good charm, Seal!!
(easy peasy)1. Floor Prepping:
So for the first step, get the concrete bare, smooth, clean.
For us this was taking out our existing flooring. carpet & tile.
We removed loads of ceramic tile and mortar.
We  {MM} used a electric hammer chisel that was rented from Home Depot.
This tool was used to pop off the tiles and scrape up mortar.

Next was smoothing out the entire floor.
We rented a floor grinder using diamond bits to grind off any mortar.
MM used another buffer bit on the same machine to make it smoother.

Next I filled any divots/deep cracks with concrete pre-mix, found at Home Depot.
Mostly this was around the edges where I had ripped up carpet tacks.

Next is cleaning! The most daunting task of this project. Making sure all dirt is up!
I used brooms and this shop-vac.
Next you have to clean the floor with a neutral cleaner. I used an all-natural organic cleaner from Home Depot. Kemiko does sell their Neutra-Clean product, but it was pricier than the other stuff.
Every stain product is different, follow instructions for your product for this step.
Other products require “etching” before you stain. DO NOT do this with Kemiko, that will take the natural lime out of your concrete and the stain will not take.
{ It is recommended to tape off walls before starting. We did not because we still had to paint and add baseboards)
2. Apply Stain : {finally}
  
 Using the Step 2 Bottle Stone Tone Stain in Black, mix in insecticide pump sprayer with 1:1 ratio of stain and tap water.
*It’s important to use all plastic pump sprayer, any metal parts will be eaten away by the acid stain. We found our 4 gallon one at Harbor Freight.
* Wear Gloves, Eye protection, and mask!

Have a handy man…
Start at the back of house or room you are spraying, so that you can “walk out”.
With a continuous pump spray action make random motion with the wand. So that you don’t get defined lines from spraying.
This is the stain in working mode
We did get nervous, the stain does dry quickly and looks like a very faded color of the one we wanted. It will look ugly, scary, and you make think “oh crap”!
I freaked out a little and was able to call Kemiko directly for advice.
We were told it’s totally normal to have that faded color once the stain dries.
To test out the final color , place a small amount of water on the floor {in a corner} and this will give you an example of the final color after the sealer is applied.
whew…
At this point we had applied 2 coats of stain with a 1:1 ratio.
Since we were still a little worried about the color we applied a 3rd coat with 2:1 ratio, so more stain and less water.
3. Clean Again!
Next we mopped up access stain with water & also used the shop vac to get puddles up.
Here you can see how dark the color was with water placed on it…perfect.
4. Apply Sealer
We used the Step 4 bottle in the Kemiko,  Stone Tone Sealer II.
Use a low nap roller brush, in thin applications.
This was a clear gloss, we really wanted a High Gloss Wet Look.

So we went and bought Behr Wet Look Sealer for concrete from Home Depot.

It says to also use thin coats, I put it on on pretty thick, to fill in small divots and cracks. It did not dry with the lines in it.
Much better high gloss look.
FYI:   After our floor were finished we waited about 1-2 days time before moving things on it. I really think the floors needed more time to cure and harden. there are several small scratches from boxes on the floor when we moved stuff in. But now, weeks later scratch marks don’t appear when moving things around on floor.
So I’m going to have to go back and apply another coat of sealer to the living room area.
 Now it’s the week of the Kitchen!
We finally bought appliance yesterday, they live in the garage right now.
We had a night of measuring & designing.

Check out the rest of our DIY Home Remodel !!

XO Laura

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{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

Deidre August 26, 2012 at 10:38 am

WOW!!! You are really workin it:) This is totally amazing the work that you all are doing and I cant wait to see it all put together!Beautiful floors.Deidre~ http://simplysimplisticated4.blogspot.com

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Deidre August 26, 2012 at 10:41 am

P.S.Im following you and Im so enjoying your blog!

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Keith January 2, 2013 at 11:15 am

Great job! Can you give an estimate of time for each step?

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Keith January 2, 2013 at 11:16 am

Great job! Can you give an estimate of time for each step?

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Keith January 2, 2013 at 11:16 am

Great job! Can you give an estimate of time for each step?

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Geraldine Starks February 27, 2013 at 2:00 am

Wonderful job! :)

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Laura February 27, 2013 at 2:14 am

Thank you so much! We are loving it

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kim March 25, 2013 at 8:40 am

Do you know if you can use this process out on pool deck that already concrete? I would love to do this to my pool deck. Thanks for the step by step direction.

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Laura March 25, 2013 at 10:40 am

I don’t see why it wouldn’t work outside. I may look into the sealer being different. By I’m pretty sure the behr high gloss sealer is good for outside! I love to see it when your done!!
Thanks laura.

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Amber April 25, 2013 at 1:30 pm

We are thinking of ripping up our laminate floors and staining the floors underneath! Thank you for the tute!!

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Laura April 26, 2013 at 8:56 am

DO IT!! you will love it! thanks for stopping by!

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Floyd Gary Thacker May 15, 2013 at 4:01 pm

This is a great tutorial. Any chance you would provide some updates and show the kitchen?

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Laura May 16, 2013 at 9:47 pm

Hey FLoyd THank you for stopping by, here’s a link to our Kitchen right now, hopefully soon I will do an updated home tour! Have a great weekened!!

http://www.lifewelive4.com/2013/03/install-subway-backsplash-tile-in-kitchen.html

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sumner May 21, 2013 at 12:17 am

I love this! What did yall do by the front door? I’m worried about the lip from the front door making it look unfinished.

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Kelly S June 25, 2013 at 11:23 am

Wow! Great job on floors! I really want to do mine and this is the best step by step tutorial I’ve seen. Looks like you did your floors about a year ago. Are you still pleased with them? Would you do anything differently?

Thanks!

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Laura July 6, 2013 at 8:51 am

Hey Kelly. The only thing I wish we had done was to wait to move things around on our living room floors. We did not have that luxury because we HAD to be moved into the house right away. Out floors dried for about 48hours total. I think they couldve used another 48 hours to cure better. The floors in the bedrooms have held up wonderfully with no scratches.
Thanks for stopping by and Good luck!
Laura

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ashley August 16, 2013 at 8:26 am

Your blog has been so helpful! By chance do you remember exactly what cleaner from Home Depot you used? I want to make sure to get the sameone so I get the same results as you. Thanks!

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Laura August 20, 2013 at 9:13 am

It was called green cleaner. Here is the link to it. http://m.homedepot.com/p/Simple-Green-1-gal-Concentrated-All-Purpose-Cleaner-80007/100060853/

Good luck! Make sure you clean and rinse after.

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ashley August 16, 2013 at 8:34 am

One last thing! When y’all used the floor grinder did y’all spray the floor with water or do it dry?

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Laura August 20, 2013 at 9:08 am

We did both. By the end of it we were wetting down the area to damp, it helped keep the dust level down alot and have a little more traction with the grinder. Hope this helps, good luck!

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Rachel Mabry September 19, 2013 at 12:41 pm

This project looks great! We have pinned this to one of our boards on Pinterest. Check them out at pinterest.com/homdepot.

Best,

Rachel 4 The Home Depot

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Laura October 3, 2013 at 8:22 pm

SO glad you like it! Thank you for stopping by, see you back soon :)

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Manny October 3, 2013 at 10:58 pm

Where did you rent the floor grinder?

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Laura October 25, 2013 at 4:24 pm

We rented the floor grinder from Home Depot- they will give you a quick tutorial on the usage and accessories needed. ….and bring your muscles when operating :)

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Deedra October 5, 2013 at 8:47 pm

your blog is sooooo helpful. Did you have “ghosting” from where your tile was? Also when you filled in your cracks and tack holes did that stain take the same way as rest of the floor? Are your floors slippery??? Thanks for posting this.

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Laura October 25, 2013 at 4:18 pm

THanks for stopping by- In the kitchen there is a slight “ghosting effect”. Our stain is very dark {black/brownish} so it does mask it pretty well. I do love the variation and character that gives though….or buy a nice big rug :)
Our floors are not super slick, about the same as a tile floor would be.
The filling in the holes does show slightly. The key was to sand , and smooth out the patching. Their is a slight color variation, but it blends well with our coloring. Our stain we used gives a marbling effect with various shades, so it works for me.
Love the questions!

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Stephanie October 7, 2013 at 9:15 am

Love this! We are about to tackle this same project in our basement and your tutorial was the best I’ve found. Simple, thorough, and so helpful. I was unable to find any kind of chart on Kemiko’s site as to how many gallons per how many square feet, etc. Do you know how many square feet your area was and how much stain you used?

Thank you so much!
Stephanie

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Laura October 25, 2013 at 4:07 pm

YEAH!!! Have fun and good luck!, thank you for stopping by :)

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Teresa Pomerantz October 8, 2013 at 11:32 am

I am thinking of pulling up the carpet and tile in my downstairs and staining the concrete- my question is- where you filled in the divots with the pre mixed concrete- can you see those spots now? I wouldn’t want them to show.

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Laura October 25, 2013 at 4:14 pm

Their is a slight variation, since the filler concrete is different from the original. However with our dark color, and the marbling effect it gives, I don’t mind those spots. I love the character our concrete has. Their are very small divots and veining throughout. Our color of stain is also very dark, so it does mask those areas well. Thanks for stopping by and good luck!!

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Ryan concrete guy November 7, 2013 at 1:17 am

The stains that need an etching agent in prep work are water based stains. You were using a blush tone acid base stain. Acid is easier to work with and penetrates much better.
Use a water based sealer as it’s easier to work with for DIYers but keep from getting any white puddling areas by moving the sealer around as it’s sprayed out, use a soft brisseled broom to move the product around don’t worry it doesn’t leave brush marks and is way easier than a roller

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Ryan concrete guy November 7, 2013 at 1:17 am

The stains that need an etching agent in prep work are water based stains. You were using a blush tone acid base stain. Acid is easier to work with and penetrates much better.
Use a water based sealer as it’s easier to work with for DIYers but keep from getting any white puddling areas by moving the sealer around as it’s sprayed out, use a soft brisseled broom to move the product around don’t worry it doesn’t leave brush marks and is way easier than a roller

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Laura November 7, 2013 at 8:53 am

Thanks for the input! Have you had experience with reapplying sealer? We are having to redo the living room area due to scratches . Is there a process you recommend? Thanks!

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Bayside Homes for Sale November 15, 2013 at 5:48 am

Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Many thanks, However I am encountering problems with your RSS.
I don’t know the reason why I am unable to subscribe to it.
Is there anybody else having similar RSS problems?
Anyone that knows the answer can you kindly respond?

Thanx!!

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Michael December 27, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Looks like you guys put a lot of hard work into the concrete floors. They look great. If you want the floors even shiner try putting a couple coats of floor wax. This will also help protect the sealer.

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Laura February 7, 2014 at 6:56 pm

Thanks Michael! Will definateley try the wax!

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KDowlearn February 5, 2014 at 9:29 am

Ready to begin prep on concrete floor in a garage apt with a LARGE crack. Guess we’ll use an area rug once we do the patch. Very informative tutorial! I believe we can do this! Our project looks about the same in the beginning!

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Laura February 7, 2014 at 6:53 pm

Sounds FUN!! Good luck, hope we could help your steps a little :)

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Chelsey February 13, 2014 at 10:32 pm

Ok so I have been studying this blog because we are going to stain our basement concrete floors! I am super nervous and I just want to get it all straight :) not to mention the Kemiko website was so hard to understand! the floors are bare and smooth so I assume we don’t need to sand or buff or anything.
1. you cleaned (sweeping, moping and using the green cleaner?)
2. apply stain (maybe 2-3x for desired result)
3. clean again (sweeping.. do you use the green cleaner again in step 3?)
4. Apply sealer multiple times ( I can’t find the Behr wet look sealer at Home Depot :( … if you had to redo it would you even apply the Kemiko sealer or just go straight for a wet look one?)

The Kemiko site wants you to do 1. floor prep 2. stain 3. redo the cleaner stuff 4. protection coat 5. top coat 6. wax removal…. whoa seems excessive, but you guys didn’t do all the extras and it worked out just fine??

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Laura February 14, 2014 at 5:16 am

Hi chelsey!

For #3 cleaning after stain applied- we just used a mop and water to wipe up excess stain. I also used a shop vac in very wet areas.
For the sealer, I would ask them at Home Depot. I found ours in the tile section by the grout stuff. Yes I would skip the kemiko sealer and go straight to the behr high gloss if that’s the look you want.

This sealer has held up great, except around our dining table with excessive movement from chairs. For added protection you can put a wax coat on top of the sealer. I haven’t done that step so I’m not really sure how to apply it or where to get that. But that’s the only area of the house that is showing wear. All other rooms , bathrooms , hallways look great. I would add the felt pads to the bottoms of furniture and chairs to help protect floors

Good luck and please let me know if you have any more questions!!!

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Michelle March 11, 2014 at 11:40 am

Ok, so my hubs and I just recently pulled up our carpet. We are looking for a cheapish alternative. It will cost us about $800 to put laminate down in our entire home. I am totally loving this concrete idea. I mean that is what we are walking on now. My main question is…. is it cold? Now when I walk on just the concrete floor it is cold. Does the stain and sealant help with that?

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Laura March 16, 2014 at 9:37 am

Hi Michelle, the concrete is cold. We live in South Texas so this really isn’t a issue for us. In the winter time which is about 2 months long here I do wear house shoes most of the time or socks. The cool floor is great though in the summer! Good Luck!

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Alicia April 10, 2014 at 12:39 pm

I am moving into my first home at the end of the month. Wall to wall carpet. I would love to do this but…is this a two person job? I am a single parent. Do you think this is doable for one person? I don’t have to “move” move in until the end of May.

Yours looks fabulous BTW.

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Lori July 31, 2014 at 9:01 am

We are in the process of adding a garage and bonus room to our house..I received an estimate to have approx. 650 sq. feet done, and I was quoted $3800! to have done what you are showing here. We are going to suck it up and do it ourselves..(we dont’ want to screw it up too bad.) Just hope I can find the right products. What would you say your project cost?

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Laura August 1, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Oh my goodness!! Thats so expensive! It cost us around $500 to do our entire house that is about 1800 sq feet. THat included ALL the supplies . You can do this by yourself, you will be a pro by the time tour done!! Good LUCK! :)

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Skylar Mitchell September 26, 2014 at 4:16 pm

This is a great instruction on how to stain your own concrete! I really love the look of stained concrete, it looks so great in a home. I want to get this done in my home before I have a party at my home next month. Unfortunately, I don’t think that I will be able to get that all done in that time! Do you know of any business that can do this for me? http://www.beautycrete.com/stained_concrete.asp

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Rhoni Ann November 19, 2014 at 10:13 am

I love your floors!!! Quick question, how old is your home? I have read the stain marbeling depends on the age of the cement. My husband and I bought our forever home, June 2013. We have been living with concrete floor since Sept. 2013. We started with the ceilings (removing popcorn), textured and painted everything, remodeled kitchen and two baths and have finally made our way to the floors. I have grown to love concrete. However we have issues with a tack strip that ran the width of our dinning room, and an added addition where the cement has a broom swept finish, plus the shadow from the industrial tile that was glued down in kitchen, entry, baths and 1/2 the dinning area. After calculating the cost of laminate and tile (small heart attack), we are now reconsidering concrete stain, which I pushed for from the beginning. I would be willing to move everything out of the house to diamond sand and stain, hubs is still on the fence and looking at me like I am nuts, lol. So after the first if the year, the studio/office is getting emptied out and I am just gonna go for it. Back to original ??, does it matter about the age of the concrete??

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Laura December 11, 2014 at 4:38 pm

Our home was built in 1978, we had carpet tack issues, and just smoothed out the divots with premixed concrete. The concrete age does make a little difference. if its too old it may not take the stain due to lack of lime in the concrete. too new of concrete you may need a different product. I would sugest talking to a flooring com[any that sells a concrete stain product. Our local store was great or calling the company customer service line.

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DALE November 19, 2014 at 2:55 pm

Will this work out- doors ? thinking about doing my drive way.

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Laura December 11, 2014 at 4:26 pm

of course! there are alot of youtube videos as well

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Lieneke November 21, 2014 at 4:33 pm

we have hydronic floor heat that’s been carpeted for years before we got here. Been here for 3 yrs and want to pull it up to get the benefits for OH winters. The concrete is painted a dark red color. Do we have to blast that off first or hope colors blend?

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Laura December 11, 2014 at 4:28 pm

I would think that would need to come off before, so that the stain can adhere

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