Ohmigoodness we have stained our concrete floors white!! I had a serious mental block about this project and I’m so glad I overcame it because the stained concrete is BEAUTIFUL. I love it. I was watching The Sorry Girls recently get creative with wallpaper and one of the Girls mentioned that unless she had seen it on Pinterest she didn’t think it could be done. I related to so hard. Part of the mental block I had concerning these floors is just that I hadn’t seen anyone do it like we had! Pretty much every video/post/etc. that I could find about staining concrete involved professionals with lots of experience and equipment. Alternatively, I couldn’t find any DIYers who had used a water based concrete stain, only acid stains. But I’m here to say that I’m in love with these beautiful floors and you should not be afraid to stain your concrete floors either!
Remember our starting point? Here’s a reminder:
And here is where I blow the surprise:
If you’re interested in the process, read on!
As with any task, prep is key. We had to remove the floor adhesive using an angle grinder (read more about that here) and since it was our first time using the angle grinder there were areas we had to ::ahem:: “fix”. Basically we chewed the floor right up and were left with a few terrible gouges from when we were getting the hang of using the tool. So, I grabbed a 50 grit diamond polishing disc and a variable speed sander and wet sanded them down nice and even. Or I filled them with concrete patch in the REALLY bad spots. Since I was down there anyway, I also used the hand sander to polish out the angle grinder swirls which I DO NOT RECOMMEND. Seriously, rent a floor buffer. Just do it.
After that, the hard bits are over. I was incredibly intimidated to put down the concrete stain, but I’m here to tell you, don’t be! We used a water based stain instead of an acid stain (post upcoming about why I chose this route) and it was so simple. Plus, water based concrete stain comes in a million colors, which is awesome.
So. If you’re looking to stain your concrete with a water based stain (which I recommend!) this is what you’ll need, and here are the products I used. This is assuming your concrete is etched/surfaced and ready to go.
- Long handled scrub brush
- Garden sprayer (we used handheld but you can also use a wand)
- Water based concrete stain (we went with a product made by Concrete Resurrection)
- Distilled Water
- Paper filters
- Mixing implements (for us, disposable plastic cups and popsicle sticks)
- Concrete sealer
- Paint tray
- Nice roller cover (I used a “best” store brand 3/8″ nap roller cover from Home Depot, but next time I do it I’m going to purchase a microfiber cover)
First, clean the concrete. We scrubbed it three times and quickly vacuumed up the water with the shop vac. We first gave it a water scrub, then scrubbed out any grease or sticky grime with dishwashing detergent, and then another water scrub to rinse. The last buckets were almost perfectly clean, so we figured we were done. If I were to do it again, there were a couple extra dirty spots near the garage door that I might have given extra attention to. The outcome still looks great, but the stain is more uneven there than in other areas. Just FYI.
Now we let the concrete dry. You can use water based concrete stain on damp concrete, but it should not be wet. This is because it’s not quite like paint, it does absorb into the concrete and you need the water to move the pigment down.
Prepping the concrete stain is surprisingly simple, it just needs to be diluted with distilled water. The dilution ratio depends on how much coverage you want, but ours recommended a minimum dilution ratio of 4 and a maximum ratio of 8 parts water to 1 part stain. We really wanted to cover the natural brown color of our concrete so we went with 4 parts water. The company that made our stain, Concrete Resurrection, recommends filtering the paint first, so we bought extra paper filters and filtered into a plastic cup before adding to the garden sprayer. Then we give it a good shake to mix.
Then you literally just spray. It is so easy! No roller lines to worry about, and the mess is so minimal. Staining concrete, I’m convinced, is an art. We just kept the sprayer moving in circles and a lovely patterned swirls formed. Watch for low spots and heavy areas. Puddling the stain a bit doesn’t seem to be a big deal, but really heavy applications will have a very hard time absorbing/drying. The first application will sort of look like nothing, but just wait for the second! It comes together so nicely!
Since we were going with white, we ended up putting down four coats. Now, I love the stain over paint because it doesn’t hide your concrete. The organic imperfections are beautiful and I want them to show. However, there were a few areas with bigger problems, like a couple streaks from a laundry detergent spill (that film lasts FOREVER and the stain won’t penetrate it) and some dark areas from very old water damage. After applying the stain to the whole floor, I went back in with a rag and dabbed on the stain straight and undiluted from the bottle to cover the areas. After it was dry, I gave it a light spritzing with the garden sprayer again to blend. Probably not at all recommended. But it works GREAT. Here are a couple before and afters of our problem areas.
Last, wait 24 hours and you can seal the floors. This is a necessary step! We used Eagle brand Satin Seal and it’s just lovely. Player 2 perfected the application using a very light touch with the roller and it came out so nice. Eagle recommends two thin coats, but we must have put it on too thin because we hadn’t met the recommended coverage on the bottle after two coats and we put down a third. Always read the directions!
I’m in love. It’s very hard to capture the loveliness in pictures, but I really think they came out beautifully. Very modern and organic. There’s something so perfectly imperfect about them, something both rough and finished that I really love. It’s like I used to tell my little elementary art students, “Perfection is overrated, art is all about imperfections”, and I think these floors prove that.
We also added a unique feature before sealing: gilding the cracks with silver leaf. I took inspiration from the Japanese practice of kintsugi where repairs in pottery are gilded with gold with the philosophy that imperfections are part of an item’s story. I’ll share more details on that later, but for now I hope I emboldened you to stain your own concrete floors!
Now my dining room just needs furniture. Too bad COVID has furniture all backed up until October. 🙁