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How to Make Concrete Look Old

By Larry Parr ; Updated January 09, 2018

Old-looking concrete is quickly becoming all the rage in the trendier landscaping circles. Landscape architects such as San Francisco-based Richard William Wogisch see old concrete as an environmental and esthetically-pleasing alternative to new construction. Whatever your uses for old concrete, the good news is that it is relatively easy to make brand new concrete look old--and it takes almost no artistic talent.

Put your concrete piece in a place with good drainage and where it can be reached by a garden hose.

Put on protective clothing, heavy gloves, eye protection and a breathing mask.

Pour a quantity of hydrochloric acid into a glass dish. Do not breathe the fumes even with a breathing mask in place. Use a paint brush to brush the acid onto the concrete.

Allow the acid to sit for 20 to 30 minutes. Hose it off thoroughly with garden hose. Do not get acid/water on your clothing if possible.

Inspect your concrete. If the acid has not etched it sufficiently for your needs, apply a second coat of acid and wash it off thoroughly after 10 minutes.

Thin the rust-colored cement stain (available at most hardware stores) with water. Use a clean paint brush to streak the stain onto your acid-etched concrete in patterns that are pleasing to you. Start with just a light coating and allow to dry before adding additional stain.


Things You Will Need

  • 1 gallon or more of hydrochloric acid
  • [Sulfuric acid and salt]
  • Paint brushes
  • Rust-colored concrete stain
  • Thick gloves
  • Old shoes
  • Heavy clothing
  • Eye protection
  • Breathing mask


  • Hose the acid off of your concrete thoroughly. Try not to get any of the acid/water mixture on your shoes or clothing.
  • The addition of "rust stains" is not mandatory. Other colored stains may be used, or simply rubbing the acid-etched concrete with a wet mud and then washing it off may be sufficient for that "aged" look.
  • NOTE: If hydrochloric acid is not available in your area, sulfuric acid (swimming pool acid) may be substituted. Simply add 1 cup of salt to 1 gallon of sulfuric acid and stir carefully with a wooden spoon.


  • Do NOT touch hydrochloric or sulfuric acid with any part of your body.
  • No NOT allow acids to come in contact with clothing (they will eat holes in clothing rather quickly).
  • Do NOT breath acid fumes even through a breathing mask.
  • Always wear eye protection. If acid gets into eyes or mouth wash with plenty of water and call poison control immediately.

About the Author


Larry Parr has been a full-time professional freelance writer for more than 30 years. For 25 years he wrote cartoons for television, everything from "Smurfs" to "Spider-Man." Today Parr train dogs and write articles on a variety of topics for websites worldwide.