Concrete Staining Do It Yourself

Concrete staining do it yourself directions aren't difficult, but do require attention to detail and allowing time for your concrete to set up properly. Stained concrete adds flash to your landscaping designs, without the cost of buying expensive stone or slate. Stain colors can be selected so your concrete additions can coordinate with any stone or slate already used in your landscaping or on your house exterior.

You'll need a few things to do the staining, including;

  • concrete
  • stain
  • wide, inexpensive brush
  • dry mix
  • mixing tool
  • water
  • measuring bucket
  • container for mixing concrete
  • 4" paint brush, for pre-poured concrete
  • Stain mix, for pre-poured concrete
  1. Collect your tools. Getting all your concrete mixing, spreading, finishing and both dry and wet mix tools together before you start is essential. Concrete doesn't dry immediately, but the longer the mixture sits without proper mixing, the more the consistency changes. Some workers like to have tools made specifically for mixing and application, while other workers use a shovel to mix concrete and a cut 2X4 board to smooth the surface of the concrete. 
  2. Buy your supplies. Go to your local hardware store or big box establishment and read labels. Depending on your local weather at the time you do this operation, one stain product might work better than another. If you have concrete experience, you can use the quick-set concrete. Novice concrete workers should choose slow-set concrete mix. 
  3. Set up your mixing container. The size of your container will depend on the amount of concrete you need. Small concrete jobs can be done with a galvanized mixing tub, while large jobs may require you to buy, or rent, a tumbling drum that helps mix large batches of concrete. 
  4. Measure your dry mix. Follow the directions on your concrete mix. 
  5. Add your liquids to the dry mix. Add the specific liquids from the bag or box directions. Make sure you read any weather considerations. Damp weather may mean less liquid is needed. 
  6. Add your stain color. Add the special dry color ingredient according to taste. See tips below. 
  7. Mix well. This step is probably the most important. Your color will be uneven and look bad, bad, bad if you don't mix well. 
  8. If your concrete is already in place, you'll need to buy a stain mix and simply paint it over the concrete. Drying time depends on the weather conditions. Whatever you do, don't walk on it until it is totally dry. 


Make up a sample batch of concrete to match other stained concrete. Make sure to record the exact dry mix and added liquid, as well as the amount of color additive. Once you have your concrete recipe, you can get the best approximate match to your test batch. If you're not that particular about making a specific color or matching other concrete, paint or stone, simply do the one-mix technique and hope for the best color from the mix. 


Allow your concrete to dry before deciding on your exact color. Wet concrete looks darker, and as it dries, it lightens significantly. If you're staining pre-poured concrete, start with a light coat of stain. You can always add more coats, but removing color is not possible without removing part of the concrete, especially with newer concrete work. 


Fine Homebuilding. "Foundations and Concrete Work." 1998.

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