Craftsman Concrete Floors

Texas Concrete Staining

Concrete floors are synonymous with modern luxury and have become a staple in modern home construction. At Craftsman Concrete Floors, we’ve been finishing concrete floors in Texas since the 1990’s. Stained concrete is by far the most common type of concrete finish. This is because of variety of finishes achievable with concrete stain and the fact that both existing and freshly poured concrete slabs can be stained. Unlike paint or other concrete coatings, concrete stains penetrate the surface of concrete, leaving a finish that’s unlikely to chip or scratch. Like wood stains, most concrete stains are semi-translucent, allowing you to see the natural beauty and variation of the concrete surface. Stains can often be installed quickly and at a cost similar to or lower than most other flooring options.

Types of Concrete Stain

A black acid stained Craftsman Concrete Floor. Acid stains offer natural colors with a marbled look.

A black acid stained Craftsman Concrete Floor. Acid stains offer natural colors with a marbled look.

Acid Stain
Acid stain is the oldest and most prevalent style of concrete stain. Acid stains are made from water, muriatic acid, and metallic salts. Acid stains modify the color of concrete by reacting with the surface of the concrete, chemically bonding metallic particles to the lime component of the slab. Acid stains are penetrating, creating a colored surface that’s completely resistant to ultra-violet light. Because of this, acid stains are often the best product to use on outdoor surfaces. Other styles of concrete stain may fade or discolor as they’re exposed to sun light. Acid stains are so durable that they can be utilized in high traffic areas without the risk of chipping or peeling. They generally have a variegated or marbled appearance due to varying amounts of lime in the concrete surface. When installing darker colors, acid stains can be very effective at covering up imperfections in concrete surfaces. For this reason, they’re often used in loft style apartments or rustic commercial renovations where a concrete slab may be worn or many decades old. The primary limitation of acid stain is that they’re available in limited variety of colors. These colors include earth tones, black, and light blues and greens. Further, acid stains may need up to 24 hour to fully react with the concrete surface, which can be prohibitively long for some projects.

A Water based stain color chart. Notice the full spectrum of colors and high level of translucency.

A Water based stain color chart. Notice the full spectrum of colors and high level of translucency.

Water Based Stains
Water based concrete stains are are newer style of concrete stain and work by depositing fine pigments into the concrete surface. Unlike acid stains, they’re available in a full spectrum of colors. Further, as they don’t react with the concrete surface like acid stains do, water based stains can offer color with a very uniform appearance. Because of this, they can be used to create intricate designs or even add a corporate logo to a concrete floor. While they’re considered UV stable, they’re generally less durable than acid stains and are less frequently used outdoors. When utilizing water-based concrete stains, it’s important that they’re always coated with a high quality concrete sealer. Concrete sealers should be periodically inspected and re-applied when needed to prevent fading in high traffic areas. Another benefit of water based concrete stains is that they have no odors or VOC’s and dry very quickly. This can be a huge benefit for live-in residential renovations or overnight retail touch-ups.

An integral color Craftsman Concrete Floor. Notice how all the natural variegation in the concrete surface is still visible after the floor is polished to a high gloss.

An integral color Craftsman Concrete Floor. Notice how all the natural variegation in the concrete surface is still visible after the floor is polished to a high gloss.

Concrete Dye
Concrete dyes are ultra-fine pigments suspended in solvents. Unlike acid stains, they’re not reactive to the concrete surface. They offer the most transparency and natural appearance of any concrete stain, and are mainly used for tinting polished concrete or concrete overlays. Solvent based concrete dyes are very uniform in their color, but require very skilled installers as their short dry time leaves little room for error. Concrete dyes are not UV stable and therefore can’t be used for outdoor installations. Like water based concrete stains, they should always be installed with a high quality concrete sealer to prevent fading in high traffic areas.

Integral Color
Although not technically a concrete stain, integral color is pigment added directly to a concrete mix before it’s poured. While this technique can only be utilized in new construction, it provides benefits that are not possible with traditional concrete stains. The main advantage of integral concrete color is that it’s homogeneous through the entire slab. This means that as a floor wears and ages the color will stay consistent. Further, all of the variation in the surface of concrete is still visible, providing a modern appearance that rivals natural stone floors. Another benefit of integral color is that it’s completely UV stable, so it’s especially well suited for outdoor installation such as patios and skim work. Integral pigment does not require a sealer to prevent fading, so it’s generally the best option for surfaces, such as pool decks, that would become slippery when wet if sealed. The main drawback of integral pigment, other than the fact that it can’t be installed on existing concrete, is that it can increase the cost of a concrete pour by as much as 20%. However, depending on the project, this cost may be offset by the fact that there’s no additional labor expense to install stain after the concrete is poured.