How to Acid Stain a Concrete Floor

I love stained concrete floors. It gives a room that cool modern industrial vibe and the best part is that it’s way more affordable than other flooring options.

To me, doing acid stained concrete floors in a basement just makes sense. The concrete is already there, so it doesn’t take a ton of work to create a nice looking floor. Also, basements are an area of the house that are at most risk of flooding. With concrete floors, you don’t have to worry about any potential water damage to your flooring.

In the farmhouse, we did acid stained concrete flooring in the basement and we were very happy with the way it turned out. So naturally, we decided to do it in the basement of the new house as well.

It’s a very straight forward process, and in this tutorial, I’m going to teach you just how I did it.

Step 1: Clean the Concrete

When acid staining concrete floors, it’s extremely important to clean the concrete very well before doing anything else.

I started by scraping any dried drywall mud and paint off the floor. Then I used a vacuum to remove all of the dust, dirt, and debris.

Then in a bucket, I mixed some soap and water and mopped the entire floor. Then mopped it two more times with clean water.

Step 2: Etch the Concrete

The second step in the process is also very important. I applied a special etching solution to the concrete. So what exactly does this do? It basically opens the pores of the concrete to allow the stain to get down into the surface.

I mixed the etching solution with 4 parts water in a mop bucket and applied it to one 10 x 10 ft section at a time.

Then I scrubbed that area with a bush and let stand for about 5 minutes.

Since the etching solution will leave a chalky residue if you let it dry, I rinsed and cleaned each section before moving on to the next.

I repeated this until the entire concrete floor was done.

Step 3: Apply the Acid Stain

After I had cleaned and etched all of the concrete, it was time to apply the stain. For this, I used two garden sprayers. Any kind will do. I filled one up with clean water, and in the other one with the acid stain.

I chose the color Graphite, which is a warm gray. I really like the subtle color that it adds to the concrete while still keeping a natural look.

Again, I worked in 10 x 10 ft sections. Using the sprayer filled with plain water, I dampened the section I was working on. The key here is to only dampen the surface without leaving any standing puddles. This will help prevent acid burn.

Then using the sprayer filled with the stain, I sprayed it on in a back and forth motion until that section was covered. I repeated this process across the entire floor.

Step 4: Clean and Neutralize

I let the stain do its thing for 24 hours. When I came back, I mixed 1 part degreaser neutralizer with 4 parts water in a mop bucket and used it to clean the entire floor.

This removed all of the acid residues while also neutralizing the acid. After I mopped the entire floor with the neutralizer, I went over it a few more times with clean water.

Step 5: Seal the Floor

After cleaning the floor one last time, I let it dry for another 24 hours. Once it was nice and dry, I applied sealer to the concrete.

I opted not to use a solvent-based sealer because of the harsh order. And I like the satin finish that the acrylic sealers produce.

I poured the sealer into a paint pan and applied it using a regular paint roller on a pole. In total, I applied three thin coats, letting each coat dry thoroughly before applying another.

Step 5: Enjoy Your Stained Concrete Floors

Here’s a shot of the finished stained concrete floors! In this photo, you can see our basement rec room and home gym, along with the double barn doors I built.

Shop This Look

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  • Reply Rachel Purcell

    So y’all know if this is ok to do in areas where cars are parked? (Garage)

    April 28, 2020 at 6:33 pm
    • Reply Henry

      Yes, you can do this in a garge, but maybe use a solvent based sealer for more durability.

      April 30, 2020 at 2:09 am
  • Reply Bailey

    Thank you for the post! What are your thoughts on doing this process on an outdoor patio? What about cement that has previously been painted?

    April 29, 2020 at 2:23 am
    • Reply Henry

      You can do it on an outside patio, but might look a little different if the concreate has a brused finish. If it has been painted, you wil need to strip the paint first.

      April 30, 2020 at 2:11 am
  • Reply Keli

    Are your concrete floors heated?

    April 29, 2020 at 2:27 am
    • Reply Henry

      Afraid not. 🙁

      April 30, 2020 at 2:11 am
      • Reply Susan

        I was also curious about the temps of the floor. Are they cold in winter? Or maybe you live in a warm climate.

        September 21, 2021 at 3:29 am
  • Reply Jane

    This looks absolutely stunning!! We’ve been anxiously waiting for your DIY tutorial! We built our home last year and have a 22×18 screened-in veranda with concrete floors that will look so much better once stained. That being said, we are interested in all the details and supplies needed. What did you use to protect your walls while staining?
    Thank you in advance! Y’all are an inspiration in more ways then one!☺️

    April 29, 2020 at 3:04 pm
    • Reply Henry

      Thanks for your patience, and thanks for the kind words. 🙂 I meant to mention masking the walls, but I was in a little bit of a hurry writing this article. I also should have listed everything out. Sorry about that. I’ll update it soon, but everything you see in the pictures is what I used. And to mask the wall, we used a roll of paper that we found at Lowe’s and painter’s tape. I think the paper is in the paint department.

      April 30, 2020 at 2:17 am
  • Reply Kim

    Your floor is so gorgeous. We love the modern industrial look! We want to do the same thing but our basement floor has quite a few divots/chunks out of the concrete. What do you suggest to do? Thanks so much and we love your projects! (Just completed the bed swing and it turned out great!)

    May 6, 2020 at 3:09 pm
    • Reply Henry

      Congratulations on bulding the swing! For the missing chunks in your concrete floor, you could try using a concrete patcher. You can usually find it at your local home improvement store.

      May 6, 2020 at 3:14 pm
      • Reply Kellie

        Thanks for the tutorial!!! We are excited to try it in our basement. However, we have some large cracks that have glue from carpet in them. Do you know how it will affect the stain? Do the cracks show through?
        Thanks again!

        October 12, 2020 at 12:29 am
  • Reply Molly

    Hi there! I love this look and I’m hoping to have this done in the basement of our new build. Did you need to wear masks when putting the acid down?

    May 17, 2020 at 12:23 pm
    • Reply Brooke

      Henry didn’t because the acid we used really didn’t have a very strong odor, but it wouldn’t hurt to wear one just to be safe.

      May 21, 2020 at 7:57 pm
  • Reply Hannah Cox

    Hey there! Thanks for the post. We are building a house and wanting to do concrete but confused at the pricing bc we’ve heard it can be just as expensive as engineered hardwood. Did you have this concrete laid extra smooth or in a particular way? Wondering if this is a big part of the expense? Thanks!

    July 28, 2020 at 6:23 pm
  • Reply alison

    This is gorgeous! Is this new construction or has the concrete been there a while? I’d love to do this in the basement of our home, but the concrete has been sitting around since 1950…I didn’t know if I’d need to employ something more than just the etching solution to prep. Do you have any thoughtS?

    August 11, 2020 at 11:35 pm
  • Reply Brittany Honeycutt

    Love this!! Looks like you waited to do this once it was sheet-rocked. Was this completed after the house was built? Also, do you have a ball park range the materials were? Our basement was just poured and the floors turned out really well. We are trying to keep them clean to possibly stain them.

    September 4, 2020 at 6:36 pm
  • Reply Courtney Frey

    We have followed your suggestions, which are very helpful. We have just completed the staining process and looks like there are some places that could use more stain, is it possible to do another coat in some places?

    September 28, 2020 at 12:43 am
  • Reply Lance

    I read your tutorial which I think was great. I can’t tell how to get the light and dark spots seen in your finished floor. Is that done by just applying more acid from the sprayer than other areas?
    Thank you, I am excited to do this!

    September 29, 2020 at 3:00 am
  • Reply Lundiga

    Hey There,
    Love the end result!❤️ My question is, when you first added the stain and let it dry it was a flat deep gray/green. But the finished result has a lot of beautiful light and dark gray variation. Is the picture of the actual room you used for the demo? If so, did you use a second color? Just not sure how you got the light and dark gray dappling from what looks like a solid colored result.

    Thank you! I’m getting ready to do a room soon.

    December 28, 2020 at 6:04 pm
  • Reply Steph

    Is the stained concrete slippery at all?

    December 31, 2020 at 2:55 am
  • Reply Jeffrey low.

    I m interested in the stain concrete for my house , pls advice. Can I get those materials like acid stain etc in Malaysia my country.

    February 17, 2021 at 1:31 pm
  • Reply kimberly

    Hi there!! Your floors are gorgeous!! We are planning to do an 800sf space and wondering if you diluted your graphite acid stain?
    I only bought one gallon, but thinking now we will need more! Again your floors are GORG! Thanks for sharing

    May 16, 2021 at 3:58 pm
  • Reply Lauren Randall

    Beautiful! My husband and I want to tackle this on our basement. Do you mind sharing how many gallons of each product you used? We have 500-600 sq ft to cover

    March 13, 2022 at 3:42 pm
  • Reply Alice Carroll

    Thanks for explaining that etching solutions are often used for acid staining. I’d like to get acid brick flooring for my new patio soon since that will be quite stylish. That kind of flooring would also be quite easy to clean if it gets dusty.

    March 15, 2022 at 5:20 am
  • Reply Marlee

    Hello! Wondering if you diluted the Graphite Acid Stain at all, or kept it at 100% strength. Thanks for the helpful info!

    November 10, 2022 at 12:08 am
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