A concrete patio provides a great setting for dining al fresco, entertaining guests, or simply spending a bit of time outdoors and enjoying some fresh air. But chances are, as you sit in your outdoor space and look down at the ground, a certain range of drab gray coloration is staring back up at you. But this does not need to be the case.
With some basic know-how and a willingness to roll up your sleeves and put in the work, you can remake your ordinary concrete patio into a true outdoor oasis. Follow these simple steps to stain your concrete patio and you will not believe the amazing transformation that awaits.
Evaluate Your Concrete Before You Stain
While the prospect of having a revitalized outdoor space can be exciting, before staining your concrete patio it is important to evaluate it carefully to make sure that the surface and material are suitable for staining. Depending on its condition there may be substantial prep work involved to get the concrete ready for staining.
Otherwise, the stain may not absorb properly and its final appearance will fall short of expectations. Here are some things to look out for:
- If water that is sprayed onto your concrete patio beads up then it may need to be treated (either chemically or mechanically) to enable it to absorb the stain
- If there is a colorful sheen when water is applied to your concrete, then you may have grease or oil stains that need to be cleaned off before staining
- If water absorbs directly into your concrete, then a simple cleaning may be all it takes to prepare your patio space for staining
Once you determine the current state of the concrete in your patio, you can decide which course to take as far as the prep work that will be needed.
Choose Your Stain
The next step is to figure out what type of stain you want to apply. There are two basic types of concrete stains:
- Acid-based stains form a chemical bond with the concrete and produce deeper, more permanent, coloring effects
- Water-based stains go on as a thin film that bonds with the pores on the surface of your concrete patio
Generally speaking, acid-based stains tend to last longer but there are fewer color options to choose from, while water-based stains offer greater variety in terms of appearance but may require more frequent re-applications.
Prep Your Concrete Patio for Staining
The importance of proper preparation before staining concrete cannot be overstated. Not only does this step ensure that the results come out as expected but also that the job is completed on schedule and within budget. Poor preparation not only wastes time and effort but money as well.
Here are the basic steps you can expect to take to prepare your concrete patio for staining:
- Regardless of what type of stain you use or the color you plan to apply, the surface of the concrete will need to be thoroughly cleaned
- Generally speaking, a good sweeping (use a broom with nice, stiff bristles) followed by a thorough rinse with water, should do the trick
- Any pre-existing marks on your concrete (e.g., grease, oil, rust) will likely show through the stain that you apply so these need to be removed with degreasers or cleaners
- If you plan to use multiple colors, it may be necessary to cut kerfs (shallow cuts in your concrete) to separate the different colored sections
By investing the time and effort to prepare for your staining project you will be rewarded with a properly stained concrete patio that will live up to your expectations.
Apply Stain to Your Concrete Patio
Applying stain to your concrete patio is a relatively straightforward process that can be done with a paint sprayer for large jobs or a simple roller and a few brushes for smaller projects. Generally speaking, it is common for 2 to 3 coats to be required to achieve the desired depth of color.
These are the recommended steps for applying stain:
- It is usually a good idea to slightly dampen the concrete before applying stain
- Be methodical in applying the stain and use overlapping strokes
- Wipe up any residue between coats to ensure an even color
- In the case of acid-based stains, a minimum of 6 hours will be needed for proper chemical bonding
- Rinse the concrete with water between coats
- When you can wipe the concrete with a white cloth and not pick up any residual color, the stain will be properly colored and dried
Another important thing to keep in mind is that staining is best done when your patio is in the shade because direct sunlight can cause the stain to dry too quickly, preventing you from laying down multiple coats (or different colors) and achieving any desired effects with the stain.
Protect Your Stained Concrete Patio With Sealer
The final step of your staining project is to treat your newly stained concrete patio with a sealer. This will preserve the color while protecting the stain’s surface from premature wear from foot traffic and the elements.
The best type of concrete sealer for your stained concrete patio is an Acrylic sealer. It is UV stable making it the perfect choice for outdoor use. Acrylic sealers are economical, easy to apply, and achieve an attractive wet look.
No matter what color you choose or what type of stain you decide to apply, the warmth and vibrancy created by staining your concrete patio can take your outdoor space to the next level. With a little bit of know-how, this highly rewarding DIY project can be completed in no time at all.