Concrete is used for a wide range of surfaces, such as walkways, patios, driveways, pool decks, planters, walls, floors and steps. Newer applications include countertops and other decorative surfaces. Concrete can be tinted to give it a different look, but staining concrete is becoming more popular. This gives the surface a dramatic, new and finished look. Staining concrete also offers an endless variety of looks depending on application and shades of stain used. Concrete staining is done with an acid solution that penetrates the porous concrete surface and etches it over time. This weekend project can improve the look of any concrete surface without costing a fortune.
Clean concrete steps with a power washer to prepare for acid staining. Use a solution with mild soap, and be sure to rinse and let dry completely before proceeding.
Put on safety gear. Since you will be working with acid, using gloves, a mask and eye protection are strongly recommended.
Mix the acid staining solution with water. The staining solution is typically made up of equal parts acid and water.
Pour staining solution into the desired sprayer. The spray bottle may work best for working with a smaller area. A 1-gallon garden sprayer can be used for larger areas.
Apply the stain randomly over the concrete steps. Results may not be visible at first because the chemical reaction happens over time.
Let the stain absorb and dry for at least an hour before adding a second coat, if desired.
Apply a second coat of stain. A second color or tone also may be added at this time for an elaborate look with more depth in color. This process can be repeated as many times and with as many colors as desired to get the look you want.
Cover the area surrounding the steps with plastic to protect from the acid runoff during neutralization and rinsing.
Neutralize the acid solution by using a scrub brush to clean off the acid. This will stop the acid-etching process. Baking soda is sprinkled over the concrete surface and scrubbed with a medium coarseness brush to neutralize all the acid stain.
Allow the concrete steps to dry for at least 24 hours before sealing.
Apply two coats of a clear concrete sealer to protect the finish of the steps and keep it looking great for many years to come.