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If there was just one word that could be used to describe a stained concrete floor, it would be CHARACTER!
There is virtually no other flooring solution that can achieve the unique custom look of a stained concrete floor.
Concrete stains don’t just add color like a paint or coating. Professional quality concrete stains actually penetrate the concrete itself to produce rich, deep, translucent tones. Concrete stain produces an antiqued mottled effect that gives floors a truly distinctive look. The color becomes a permanent part of the concrete surface which will not chip flake or peel.
A professionally applied concrete stain can rival the look and feel of much more expensive materials such as polished marble to natural stone or even wood. With many colors and finish options to choose from, stained concrete offers an infinite array of beautiful effects with broad appeal and spectacular results.
How Does Concrete Stain Work?
There are two types of concrete stains: acid stains and dye stains.
Each has their own distinct visual characteristics, application methods, and limitations. It is important to know the differences when deciding on a concrete stain for your project.
Acid concrete stains contain phosphoric acid and/or mild hydrochloric acid along with inorganic metallic salts. The acids open the pores in the concrete, and then the salts react with the chemicals in the concrete to produce desired color.
Depending on the age and porosity of the concrete, the salts are absorbed in varying degrees and produce different shades of color. The finished concrete surface has a varied coloring effect that looks similar to marble or natural stone. Since the exact chemical makeup of every concrete slab is different, no two floors ever come out exactly the same. This guarantees that each and every stained concrete floor is truly unique.
After the floor is cleaned and stained, it must be washed with an ammonia solution to neutralize the chemical reaction and clean up the residue left by the acid and then sealed with a professional grade concrete sealer.
Dye stains don't rely on a chemical reaction to impart color. Rather, they are designed to deposit their pigment particles in the open pores by penetrating the concrete surface. Dye stains have grown in popularity over the past few years because they come in a much wider variety of colors than acid stains and are easier to apply.
Concrete floors stained with non-reactive dye stains don’t have the same color variations as compared to acid stained floors. Dye stained floors are generally more opaque and uniform in color. When dye stain is applied correctly and sealed with a high quality, commercial grade concrete sealer, the results are stunning.
Can My Concrete Be Stained?
The most important factor when determining whether your concrete is a good candidate for staining is the condition of the surface.
Both types of stain (Acid or Dye Stains) can be applied to virtually any concrete surface. In order for the concrete stain to effectively color the concrete, the surface must be porous. But if there are barriers on the surface of the concrete like clay, caulk, grime, glues, coatings, curing membranes, or sealers, the stain won't be able to penetrate and effectively stain the concrete material.
Sprinkling water on the concrete surface a simple test you can perform to determine its porosity. If the water beads up and stays on the surface, it is likely that a concrete stain will not be able to penetrate and stain the concrete. If the water soaks in to the concrete then it is reasonably certain that concrete stain will also be able to penetrate the surface and successfully color the concrete material.
On new concrete, stain manufacturers recommend letting the concrete cure for at least 30 days before applying a stain and to avoid the use of curing compounds. On existing concrete, it's important to keep in mind that stains are intended to enhance rather than disguise the surface. They will not mask cracks, blemishes, discoloration, or other flaws. In some cases, that can be an advantage and work well with the design. For example, if you're looking for an aged, distressed, or rustic look, stains can accentuate minor blemishes and cracks and add greater distinction.
An existing concrete slab with major cracks or spalling is usually not a good candidate for staining because any necessary repairs to the concrete surface are likely to show through the stain.
This is especially true when remodeling a room that has had carpet removed. The tack strips along the perimeter of the room invariably leave divots in the concrete when removed. Those divots need to be filled and sanded to acheive a smooth surface. The process of repairing divots in the concrete leaves a patch mark that is nearly impossible to mask.
The best solution in this situation is to cover the concrete with a thin polymer modified concrete overlay. The overlay covers any imperfections and patch marks in the concrete creating a fresh new surface to work on.
(For more on this see Concrete Overlays)
What Does Stained Concrete Cost?
We bid each and every job on an individual basis.
No two jobs are exactly the same and so total cost is difficult to predict. Some of the main factors that determine the cost of a stained concrete floor are:
It is safe to say that in general a standard one color stain application with sealer and minimal surface prep can cost between $3 and $5 per square foot. More elaborate decorative stained concrete projects can cost much more due to the amount of time and required skill level involved. Custom features such as multiple colors, designs and borders, scoring (saw-cutting), stenciling, and logos or patterns can increase the cost of a stained concrete floor.
When comparing the cost of stained concrete with alternative flooring materials, such as carpet, tile, or hardwood, it is important to factor in longevity and replacement costs. Stained concrete will last for decades when properly installed and sealed and rarely needs replacement. It isn’t susceptible to mold or water damage and doesn’t trap allergens. With proper maintenance your stained concrete floors can last a lifetime.
Want more information on stained concrete floors? Would you like to schedule a FREE design consultation?
Contact Concrete Custom today!