Pros and Cons of Concrete Staining

By HomeAdvisor

Updated August 30, 2017

Concrete Staining

Most newer homes have large, unfinished basements and street-side garages, and as a result, the homeowner notices that concrete is the prevalent floor material around the house. Typical remodeling concepts cover the floor with carpet, wood, tile, etc. However, recent trends have been spicing up existing concrete with acid stains, rather than trying to hide it.

Basics of Acid Staining

Stained concrete floors are found in stores, restaurants, homes, patios, hotels, among other places, and is highly cost-effective. Many homeowners have had their concrete patios stained, either with solid colors or a mottled look, but recently the trend has moved indoors to basements and garages. The versatility of concrete is the main reason for its popularity.

Concrete can be molded or shaped into any form or pattern, which means it isn’t limited to only basements, garages, and sidewalks. Kitchen remodeling projects might find countertops made of stained concrete countertops more durable, artful and cost-effective material than granite or laminate. Coffee tables and even dining room tables are now being made of concrete.

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A concrete surface can be lightly smoothed or heavily brushed; swirled or scored; tinted or painted into artistic patterns. It is the new pallet for the modern home and garden. Concrete stains are the new paint.

Concrete is very porous, much like wood, and it often already has stains from vehicle oils and fluids, small spills, water, rust, and the like, all of which can be covered, or enhanced, with an acid stain. The best part is that with existing discoloration, the stain will give a patch of concrete that marbled, patina appearance. No matter how discolored the concrete, the current blemishes will only add to the character of the finished coat. Application hazards—like brush marks or uneven distribution—blend right in with the marbling effect of concrete floor stain.

Drawbacks to Concrete Staining:

  • Because the stain soaks into the concrete, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to change the color if it isn’t quite right. As with paint, choose a discreet area to spot test the color before having the entire surface coated.
  • The application is difficult to control, since concrete stain is thinner than paint. Be sure to place any objects that you don’t want to be stained far away from the work area.

Advantages of Stained Concrete:

  • Materials and labor are much cheaper than carpet, tile, and wood.
  • It won’t fade or have to be replaced.
  • It can’t be scratched or broken.
  • Stains can even cover up cracks in concrete.
  • If you are just trying to add a little color to an unfinished basement, but don’t want to commit to carpet in case your buyer doesn’t like your taste, it will be just as easy for the next owner to put any kind of flooring over it as if it hadn’t been stained.
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Concrete Staining Prices:

  • Concrete floor stain is $45-65 gallon and covers around 400 sq ft.
  • For outside concrete, it’s good to use a sealer to keep other elements from creating their own stains. Sealer is $110-135, per 5 gallons and covers roughly 400 sq ft per gallon.
  • Some areas, such as a pitched sidewalk, can become slippery once the concrete pores have been filled. Sharkskin can be added to the sealer to abate the slipperiness. Sharkskin is roughly $5-8, per container, but is tough to find anymore. However, there is likely similar products available at most big box stores.


  1. Linda Thomas, January 28:

    What, please, is the absolute cheapest way to make my (original, 20 yr. old) concrete driveway look better? Power-washing didn’t help. Paint and stain are so expensive for me right now. Thanks very much.

  2. Duomit, February 9:

    High-quality Concrete Sealer goes not cheaper than $250 a pail

  3. Alessio Trabelsi, March 15:

    Sharkskin is actually Shark grip at Sherwin Williams but a better one is available at NJ DECORATIVE CONCRETE SUPPLY in linden ( they deliver) Calle sure grip. Also real outdoor sealers industrial grade ones cost around 185 a gallon and expect to get 200 sqft a gallon tops.

  4. Don Robinson, July 6:

    Fill in explanations in driveways

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