How to Stain Concrete

Revitalize a tired concrete patio: Give it a brand-new look with color stain.
By: Erinn Valencich

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To stain concrete, it must be unpainted and unstained. Concrete is porous and once it's stained it has essentially been sealed.

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Materials Needed:

  • 9" tear-resistant deck paint pad
  • telescoping rod
  • handle for paint pad (attach to telescoping rod)
  • paint pan
  • 4" paintbrush
  • tarp
  • broom and hose
  • concrete stain (water-based)
  • bucket of water
  • rag (for any spills)

Choose a Color

Use the manufacturer's color chart as a guide to selecting your color. There are different levels of coverage in the various stain options. For this project, we've used a semi-transparent stain that looks like watercolor when applied. For more coverage, go with an opaque stain. Do a small test area on the concrete to make sure you're going to get the results you want. Always read the manufacturer's instructions on the container for any special considerations when using their product.

Gather Materials to Stain Concrete

Gather Materials to Stain Concrete

Use the manufacturer's color chart as a guide to selecting your color. There are different levels of coverage in the various stain options. For this project, we've used a semi-transparent stain that looks like watercolor when applied. For more coverage, go with an opaque stain. Do a small test area on the concrete to make sure you're going to get the results you want. Always read the manufacturer's instructions on the container for any special considerations when using their product.

Prep the Concrete

Remove furniture and other miscellaneous objects (planters, etc.) from the concrete at this time. Remove all residue and loose particles from the concrete using a broom and hose. If there are any other elements stuck to the concrete, you can scrape those off as well. After cleaning, allow the concrete to dry for 24 hours.

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Apply the Stain

After the concrete has dried, you can begin applying the stain. Place your paint pan on the tarp and pour the stain into the pan. Using your paintbrush, apply the stain along the perimeter edge and at all seams (Images 1 and 2). Then, begin applying the stain over the rest of the concrete with the pad. Use the seams as natural divisions to work in. Stay in only one section at a time so you can maintain control over blending without it drying too quickly (Image 3). Once most of the stain is out of the pad, use what is left to feather (soften) the edges from your previous strokes before you add more stain to the pad (Image 4).

Parts of the concrete will absorb the stain differently. Rust spots will finish darker than the rest of the area you are staining. You can fill any holes or uneven areas in the concrete, but the fill will absorb the stain more quickly and be darker than the un-filled areas.

Note: Don't apply the stain in direct sun; wait for a cloudy day or apply it when the concrete is in shade. The stain will dry much more quickly in the sun and won't give you much time to blend your strokes.

Replace Furniture

The stain should be dry to the touch in four hours. Wait until the next day to place your furniture back on the concrete. The stain can scratch off if you drag the furniture over it, so be careful.

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