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. JD Wiswall says

    I have worked on a few floors too, and the floors I see with the Behr semi-transparent stain on them never seem to hold up. I have found a great product called Eco-Stain and it comes from a company in Florida called Surecrete. The stuff is very easy to work with and they have instructions on thier website on how to install. You can make all kinds of cool designs on the floor with a brush, some tape and the stain. Then you seal the color in with one of thier sealers. Thier waterbased materials are very eco-friendly and work the best of all the waterbased materials I have found. One last comment. I don’t see why anyone would use a brush to put down a sealer on a floor. Why not use a 9″ or 18″ Roller that is lint free and get rid of the Brush Strokes. Save you about 2 hours in application over a 200 sq foot space.

  2. Chris says

    Hey guys- Just found you site, it’s great. Anywhooo, me and my Fiance’s dog destroyed our carpet in our dinning room. I was thinking about staining the cement, but the more I lookin in to it, it appeared to be more costly than I thought, till I found your site.
    Did you guys prep your floor at all, or is it rough and unfinished?
    Thanks
    Chris

    • says

      Hey Chris,

      We just did what we mentioned in the post above. Nothing more! It’s easy and cheap and our raw concrete floor sucked everything up without needing to be treated beforehand. It’s an extremely porous material so yours should do the same! Of course you’ll want to wash it down with soap and water first to remove any pet stuff so it’s clean when you stain it. Good luck!

      xo,
      s

  3. Andrew C. says

    We’ve seen so many floors with such smooth finishes. Our concrete is not rough but certainly is not glassy smooth either. Will or does a good couple coats of polyurethane create the smooth finish were looking for?

    • says

      Good question! I would ask the paint professionals at your local home improvement store if they have a clear finishing coat you can apply over stain for a smooth and glossy finish. Hope it helps!

      xo,
      s

  4. Sue says

    Great site. I wish that I had done a little more research before I started my concrete-patio-staining-project. I didn’t know the difference between acid stain and laytex based stain. The hardware store down my street only sold latex opaque stain (Thomson) and so I didn’t even know that Semi-transparent was an option either! Live and learn! So here’s my mistake. I took two colors, and planned to mix them, a brownish color and a terracotta, for a Tuscany feel. The problem is that the colors really didn’t mix well. I’m an oil painter (hobby) and figured it can’t be that hard, but it really is. I used a roller, and tried to roll in the second shade in a soft, blended pattern but depending upon how dry the section of stain was, it just didn’t mix nicely. So I tried to add more depth, dabbing a brush in random sections with a second coat of the brownish color, but on top of the terracotta it didn’t look brown at all, it looked cream-colored. Ick. I’m not explaining this very well but the point is it looks nothing like the effect I was going for. So I bought a third shade of stain, a purple-y-brown. I’m using an 11 x 13 piece of cardboard, tracing around it with a 1-inch brush (making fake “grout lines”), in a staggered brick pattern. I completed 2 rows, and I don’t even know if I like it (wish I had splurged on $300 stencil sets online but….trying to save money) , if I should keep going…or if I have any better options. Figured I should let it dry, and see what it looks like in the daylight. I’m certainly not going to fool anyone into thinking the patio floor is tiled…but how cheesy is the faux tile look? I don’t know if I like it, or if it looks stupid. Can I send you a photo, and can someone tell me what they think? THANKS!!!

    • says

      It sounds nice! Why don’t you live with it a while and maybe ask a few friends what they think. We have learned that most changes take a while to get used to, so they look jarring for a few days. And if you decide it’s not your cup of tea you can always paint right over the stain for a smooth, matte, and seamless look (with porch and floor paint, see our tutorial about that on our How To tab under the header). Hope it helps!

      xo,
      s

  5. Axel Reese says

    We have just poured a light tan colored concrete floor in our sunroom. If you use a semi transparent gloss do you still have to seal it? Do you seal first or gloss first. Does the gloss make the floor slippery or simply shiny. The room connects to our swimming pool room so we don’t want the floor to be slippery, just nice and shiny. Thank you for your help.
    Axel

    • says

      Hey Axel,

      Many products are different so our advice would be to follow the instructions on the can to ensure whether you need to seal things afterwards. The stain we used did not require that and was not slick at all. Hope it helps!

      xo,
      s

  6. says

    Nice site and good info. We’re remodeling a home and just applied Behr Solid Concrete stain to the old (1978) concrete floor that was under carpet for 30 yrs. Needless to say, much prep work and the Behr Solid stain went on nicely and looks great after 2 coats, however we’re debating whether to seal it our not. Did you use a sealer and if not, what kind of shape is your floor in? Did you experience paint chips or other flaws in the product?

    Thanks again,
    Patricia

    • says

      We didn’t use a sealer and the floor held up perfectly. We have since painted it a rich brown color but the stain really was durable and lovely until the day we painted over it (we wanted a more solid and opaque look). Hope it helps!

      xo,
      s

  7. Bob says

    I like your comments about not following the directions exactly. Sometimes that’s actually ok. The semi-transparent is “supposed” to be sprayed on, but I can see how applying with a brush would give it a unique appearance. It’s usually good to follow the manufacturer’s directions, but sometimes it’s ok to bend the rules a bit.

  8. says

    HAHA…so I am an avid reader but did a google search on painting and staining concrete floors and you all popped up as one of the first results!!! Love it. Guess I should have searched through your posts a little more before I started googling!!!

    Hope you all had a great New Years!

  9. Lisa says

    Hi! Your house is beautiful and your site is so helpful! I take it that you did not use the Behr concrete primer before staining your concrete. Is that right? I’m about to stain an interior, low traffic floor with Behr semi-transparent concrete stain and I am really on the fence about whether or not to prime it. I sanded the concrete with a concrete grinder (it needed it!) and etched it with the Behr etching solution, so it is quite porous at this point and I’m leaning towards skipping the primer. It doesn’t sound like you had any peeling or problems. I am planning to put the high gloss sealer on it. I don’t know if that makes a difference. I appreciate any comments or suggestions you might have. Thanks. :)

    • says

      Nope, didn’t use the primer at all- it sucked it up like a sponge and was extremely durable. It shouldn’t have any bearing on the sealant. Hope it helps!

      xo,
      s

  10. Pam says

    We have 2 small boys & 2 large dogs. You can imagine the state of our carpet. We live in a tri-level where the family room is half underground. I’m confident there is concrete below the carpet. I kept thinking it would be cheaper to just rip it up & got with concrete but then I got researching to find how expensive getting it acid stained etc. could be….until I found your instructions. Both your instructions for staining & for painting the concrete floor gave me hope. Thank you!

  11. says

    I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that when I did a google search for “how to stain concrete” a picture of you staining your sunroom porch floor showed up!! Thanks for the tutorial. I’ll be undertaking this project over the weekend on our really small front porch!! :)

  12. LJ says

    Thanks for sharing your experience- it just so happened it was exactly what I needed to find! We have a dining room with a concrete floor/once patio (some weird after-thought of past homeowners.) It hasn’t survived our 2 kids, dog pee and moldy weather leaks (the nerve!) Until we have an extra $100k for a structural overhaul, we have to find a quick fix (one that will withstand my dear geriatric dog). My question is: what design options would you go for knowing the concrete floor has 2’x2′ squares already mapped out with some bizarre grouting past? ( I know, weird! It looks like the concrete was laid out as tile!)Do we tape off for darker or lighter contrast- or even plain concrete for rustic design? Or would you let the natural texture show through using one color, no tape? And would you still do concrete stain over paint?

    • says

      We wouldn’t emphasize the odd grouting by making the floor a contrasting color, we’d actually just paint everything chocolate brown (not stain it, use floor paint) so it minimizes the treatment for a cohesive look. Just visit your local home improvement store for help.

      xo,
      s

  13. Twila says

    I have a question my walk way up to my house is concrete and ugly, I was think of staining it, do you think this would work???my house is painted tan and dark brown what color would you recommend??

    • says

      It would definitely work! Just grab the booklet full of stain colors that you can choose from and cut each square out and see what looks best with your house. Maybe something light mocha or sandy colored to work with the tan and brown? Good luck!

      xo,
      s

  14. Jim says

    I realize that the original post/pics are from two years ago. But, the original stain did look nice and you did a good job, even if you weren’t happy with the end-color. I am researching to do our newly built large detached garage/shop. I would love it if Sherry came to help because she is not only now experienced, but she is HOT. Thanks for sharing your experience. Oh, did I mention that Sherry is pretty.

  15. John says

    Thanks for the step-by-step instructions! I’m planning to stain my living room floor next weekend. It’s been covered in carpet since the house was built. I had a friend (DIY guy) and he mentioned that the grade of concrete matters. Can you elaborate on this for me, i.e. does it matter and if so, how do I determine if my slab is going to look good after staining?
    Thanks!