How To Stain A Concrete Floor

This is a surprisingly easy task, so anyone with a garage, sunroom, basement or porch with a concrete floor should seriously consider this super simple process. We used Behr Semi-Transparent Concrete Stain in “Tuscan Gold” from Home Depot to give our sunroom’s unfinished looking concrete floors a warm wash of honey-gold color:

The semi-transparent stain is a great choice for concrete that’s in pretty good shape (since it’s not an opaque covering, the original concrete will show through). But don’t worry about any natural texture variations in the concrete, those look great with a semi-transparent treatment, which really makes the floor look more finished without completely covering the concrete’s varied texture beneath the stain. And it’s super duper durable. Short of pushing a heavy washer and dryer across the floor, we have yet to see any scratches in our semi-transparent stain. Hooray for high traffic areas with low maintenance durability.

Here are the fast and easy instructions:

Step 1: Thoroughly clean the floor. We used a vacuum cleaner to grab all the bigger dust bunnies and then followed up with a mildly soapy wet rag to be sure that it was squeaky clean. Be sure that the floor is completely dry before moving on to the next step.

Step 2: You’re technically supposed to use a “quality pump sprayer” to apply the stain, but we actually opted to paint on the stain with a brush for that rustic tuscan look that we were going for. Two or three coats should do the trick (the color intensifies slightly with every coat, so keep going until you’ve reached your desired color saturation). It also helps to apply each coat in the opposite direction of the previous coat, so there are subtle crosshatched brush strokes instead of more obvious lines that all go in one direction). We’ve also heard that applying the stain with a rag in circular motions can achieve a nice rustic look without any brush strokes at all. Whatever your method, don’t forget to be smart about painting yourself out of the room so you don’t leave footprints on your newly stained floor.

So there you have it. The easy peasy two step process to staining your concrete floor. Our first floor staining experience with the “Tuscan Gold” color that you see above was seamless and we loved the result. But two years later we wished we had gone with more of a chocolate brown color and less of an orange tone (to better complement the colors in the rest of the house and make the sunroom feel more connected to the indoor spaces). So here’s where Step 3 comes in…

Step 3: Never ever use a darker semi-transparent stain over an existing lighter semi-transparent stain, or it’ll look like this:

Which was not at all what we were going for. Our stellar idea to just use Behr Semi-Transparent Concrete Stain in “Loden” over the existing orangey-gold color (to tone down the golden hue) ended up looking dirty and dingy, like someone smeared mud on the floor and called it stain. Oops. Hopefully you guys will learn from our mistake. We’ve heard from numerous other DIYers that applying a darker stain over a lighter stain never looks good at all. They should warn you on the can!

The ultimate lesson: staining raw concrete always yeilds near perfect resuls, so pick you semi-transparent stain color carefully as it seems that second chances are iffy. Otherwise you’ll end up repainting the whole floor with oil-based porch and floor paint to cover your grungy second staining attempt. Luckily our sunroom floor adventure had a super happy ending, so check out our fabulous floor painting tutorial!

Comments

  1. says

    Your sunroom is such a gorgeous space. This looks like a fun project that made a huge visual difference. Way to go!

  2. sceniclady says

    Looks like the perfect opportunity for a large floor stencil!
    Can’t wait to see the after tomorrow….

  3. says

    Ok…you guys just made a possible PIA project look easy peasy! We stained our floors…but acid stained them. It WAS a bit bigger of an ordeal. Also loved the outcome…but now 5 years later we are trying out some carpets to cover them…just a bit!

  4. Concreteman says

    At 61 years of age, and after building at least 7 houses I finally tried Behr Latex concrete stain. It is pitiful. It sits on the surface, does not penetrate, and does not last!
    There is NO substitute for the chemical reaction of an acid based stain.

    • Brian says

      Yeah they should tell people to first test the floor by dumping a little water on it to see if the floor absorbs it at all. If not you just need to spray a chemical on it to open the pores up and it would have come out perfect. The acid does this is why you had better results!

    • Angela says

      I just tried Eco-Stain. AND LOVE IT! We had some bad cracks and “heaped up” cracks, so we used a concrete grinder. Then cleaned several times (vacuumed it 3 times, and mopped it 6), and then applied the stain. Its water-based so no potent odor or harshness. Didn’t have to neutralize it either. I’m getting ready to seal, which will be tomorrow.

    • bill says

      Try etching the concrete first to open it up to staining. Also did you use the solid color stain or transparent one? Because the solid is designed to sit ontop.

  5. win says

    Hello.
    I saw you speak in Richmond about your blog and I had a few ideas for you to do in your spare time. :)

    You have a GREAT site.

    1. The how to section is great. Can you make videos of each and post them on youtube? I found nine videos on youtube under the name johnpetersik. Let me suggest that you put a remote mike on the speaker, add more lighting and get a better video camera.

    2. Do you collect all emails with aweber or constantcontact?

    3. I live an hour away from Richmond. How much do you charge to go to someone’s house for decorating advice?

    4. Have you taught a decorating seminar?

    5. Do you stage homes to help them to sell? Realtors and owners will pay big bucks for that service.

    6. Do you have gift certificates? A good wedding present for a young couple would a decorating consulatation with you.

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Win,

      Thanks for the helpful hints! As you probably gathered, we’re pretty busy these days- but whenever we have a spare moment we’ll look into your ideas! As far answering your questions go:

      1. Someday when we have the time and the funds we’ll definitely look into it. Good idea!

      2. We don’t collect (or share) emails because we never want to hound people. We can disperse info to plenty of people by doing a blog post, using twitter, or using the fan page that we set up on Facebook! It’s a great system and nobody feels badgered or pressured.

      3. We only do virtual decorating consultations- here’s a link to two of the services we offer (this info can also be found on the tab under the header that says “design advice.”

      4. Nope, never taught a seminar as we’re busy writing content, answering emails/comments, running our shop, and doing virtual decorating consultations. Someday when we have a moment it would be lots of fun, though!

      5. See above answer. Sounds fun! Someday…

      6. We do offer gift certificates (in many increments) in our shop. Feel free to check ’em out here.

      Thanks again for all the ideas!

      xo,
      Sherry

  6. Cindi Edwards says

    I actually have a question. We made the mistake of adding the Concrete darker stain over the lighter stain and the results are awful. What did ya’ll do to correct the mistakes. I’m at a loss of what to do now. Sincerely, Cindi

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Cindi,

      Isn’t it annoying that no one tells you (the can! the guy at the stain counter!) that you can’t use a darker concrete stain over a lighter one- even years after the first stain application?! We ended up painting the floor an opaque color with porch and floor paint and it came out awesome. Here are those details:

      http://www.younghouselove.com/2008/08/how-to-paint-a-floor/

      Hope it helps!

      xo,
      Sherry

  7. Cindi Edwards says

    Thank you so much for responding so quickly. I love the lookof your floor with brownstone. However, I really didn’t want a glossy look. I was told to try a cleaner and etcher. What to you suggest? This was once a outdoor dog kennel turned into storage/laundry room. We used the colors sunbaked clay/loden

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Cindi,

      Unfortunately we don’t have any experience with a cleaner and an etcher but visiting your local Home Depot or Benjamin Moore store and speaking with the stain & paint specialist should provide you with all the info you need! Good luck!

      xo,
      Sherry

  8. Tracy says

    Thanks for the information and pictures, it isn’t easy to find help with DIY projects. I have a couple of questions for you, please. I am interested in blending 2 or 3 colors together for a multi-color blended effect. In step 2 you stated: “Two or three coats should do the trick (the color intensifies slightly with every coat, so keep going until you’ve reached your desired color saturation).”
    Question #1: Did you let the stain dry between each coat and how long between each application?? My idea is to work in small sections as I do with blending paint on walls to get the result I am looking for then move on.
    Question #2: Can I go back and touch up areas if needed, before applying the clearcoat??

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Tracy,

      Our memory of the floor-staining process (we actually did it almost two years ago) is that we didn’t need to wait long between coats because by the time we got to one side of the large room the other side of the room where we started had pretty much dried. Your idea to work a few colors of stain together at the same time is a great one- you’ll want to work pretty fast but it’ll definitely look a lot better than layering each color, which might yield iffy results. You can definitely go back and touch up areas (raw concrete will suck up a number of coats with no problem). Hope it helps! Happy staining…

      xo,
      Sherry

  9. Rob says

    great site, thanks for all your info. i’m trying to stain my 35’x15′ poured concrete slab and i was wondering did you like the stain from behr and would of kept it if you had a darker color? my other question is do you have to put a topcoat on it like a gloss sealer or just leave it like that. thanks for your help,
    Rob

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Rob,

      I definitely think we would have loved the stain if we had the foresight to choose a darker more neutral color (like a deep tan/medium brown that flows with the rest of our home’s mocha hardwood flooring). It was a great finish because it was semi-translucent so it really hid dirt and also brought out the beauty of the concrete floor beneath.

      Oh and we didn’t seal the concrete with a gloss (which we thought would keep things looking casual and allow us to add stain down the line). But even without sealing it, you can see that restaining it later was not really an option at all (it came out so gross we would never recommend it). Hope it helps!

      xo,
      Sherry

  10. paula says

    what causes the white spots, once u apply the semi-stain
    and u waited before applying the sealer. 2 days later some of the sones had white powder patches

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Paula,

      We didn’t have any experience with white spots so I’m afraid I’m of no help, but perhaps calling the paint & stain specialist at Lowe’s or Home Depot or even Benjamin Moore will help? We also didn’t seal our concrete, we just stained it but left it raw which really wore well and held up perfectly (and also allowed us to paint the concrete a few years later without worrying about adhesion). Hope it helps!

      xo,
      Sherry

  11. Linda says

    My covered balcony has a concrete floor on which the previous owner used an adhesive to hold down indoor/outdoor carpet. I removed the carpeting, but am having trouble removing the adhesive. I have used a toxic adhesive remover and scraper on my front porch which had the same carpeting, but I don’t want to use it again since it was messy, smelly, hard to clean up and even ate through rubber gloves. It stung really bad and now that I have a naughty, nosy dog, I don’t want to use anything that can burn her paws. I have a cobblestone stencil I’d like to use with
    patio paints. Have you ever tried them? They’re supposed to be durable, especially since the floor is not exposed to the elements. Thank you.

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Linda,

      You’re so smart to think about your sweet pup’s paws. I definitely think approaching the concrete floor with something more mild and less toxic is a great idea. We haven’t actually experienced what you’re talking about with the adhesive so we don’t really have any suggestions but you might want to talk to your paint professional at Lowe’s, Home Depot or Benjamin Moore. And as for the stencil, it sounds like a great idea! Good luck!

      xo,
      Sherry

    • says

      Using a floor buffer with a scrubbing pad would be a good alternative to solvents or chemicals. You can usually rent one for the day for around $75.
      A full day with one would probably be overkill for just a front porch, but you could also use it to clean up the garage floor a bit, also.

  12. Chris says

    I am curious why you decided to skip the etching stage of prep that is recommended by Behr. We are planning to stain an interior room, so it would be great to skip the etching stage since it’s pretty tough to hose down an interior room! Is there any difference in how your concrete took the stain with washing vs. etching? Any advice would be appreciated!!!

    Thanks,
    Chris

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Chris,

      When you know you’re dealing with raw, unstained concrete (which is naturally extremely porous) the etching step isn’t necessary since the concrete will suck up the stain without any issue whatsoever. Etching becomes extremely important if your concrete has been sealed or if it’s dirty or stained, but since ours was clearly untouched (it was hidden under a wall to wall carpet) we knew we only had to do a little sweeping/vacuuming and then could get right down to staining (and it worked like a charm). Hope it helps!

      xo,
      Sherry

  13. Jenn says

    I’m planning on staining our basement floor over the next couple of weekends. In the floor painting post you said that you waited 6 days before walking on the floor. What are your opinions on wait time for a stained floor?

    Thanks!
    Jenn

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Jenn,

      You’ll want to follow the advice on the floor stain can that you choose (since timelines can vary by brand). I would also add a bout 24 hours to that if you can, just to ensure a flawless finish. Hope it helps!

      xo,
      s