Best Concrete Stain for Your Next DIY Project

If you’re tired of plain, dull gray concrete, you may be leaning towards staining your floors. Staining is an excellent way to give your concrete surface some color without dealing with peeling, flaking, or fading.

In this guide, we’re going to review the ten best concrete stains for DIY. We’ll also provide an in-depth buyer’s guide that will inform you of everything you need to know about shopping for and applying concrete stain to your concrete surfaces. 

The 10 Best Concrete Stains for DIY

We’ll kick things off by providing a quick review of ten of the best stains for DIYing your concrete floors, including features, benefits, and disadvantages. 

1. Concrete Stain Concentrate – Just Add Water

Concrete Stain Concentrate Just Add Water, User & Eco-Friendly Semi-Transparent Professional Grade Cement Stain, Concrete Resurrection Brand (32 ounce, Mocha)
  • The Shortest and Easiest Route to dazzling concrete surfaces is with Water-Borne Water Reducible Concentrate. Quality ingredients. Formulated Fresh to Your Door

Concrete Resurrection offers this eight or 32-ounce semi-transparent water-based concrete stain in 34 color choices. You can use this stain for pool decks, driveways, patios, concrete floors, or counters. You can even apply multiple colors to create a unique mottled, marbling variegated effect.

This stain is environmentally friendly with low odors. To use this product, follow the instructions to mix in the appropriate distilled water amount. You’ll need to apply a top coat of sealant after the stain dries. The application can be done with a sea sponge, pump sprayer, roller, or rag.

Benefits

  • Versatile use for indoors or outside
  • Multiple color options
  • The water-based solution is safer and more eco-friendly
  • Various application processes

Disadvantages

  • Color may not be exact once dry
  • Requires mixing with distilled water

For a wide range of color options beyond natural shades, consider the easy-to-mix Concrete Resurrection concrete stain. 

2. Concrete Resurrection Concrete Acid Stain Semi-Transparent

Concrete Acid StainSemi-Transparent Professional Grade Cement Stain (1 Gallon, Black Walnut)
  • Concrete Resurrection Acid stain is ideal for concrete floors, pool decks, patios, driveways and anywhere you have concrete you want to make beautiful.

Concrete Resurrection also produces acid-based stains, such as this semi-transparent, professional-grade stain, available in 16 ounces or 1-gallon containers in twelve natural color options.

You can achieve a variegated, mottled, leathery, or marbleized look using this stain. However, you may end up with differently-shaded sections due to the chemical reaction rather than a solid matching look. Because you’re dealing with acid, this product requires special handling. Indoors, you can only use it in well-ventilated areas, so it might not be ideal for basements. 

Benefits

  • Creates a marbleized look
  • Natural color choices
  • Used for various locations
  • Penetrates concrete for permanent stain

Disadvantages

  • It can be challenging to DIY
  • Hard to produce a consistent look

This acid-based concrete stain by Concrete Resurrection, available in twelve colors, is ideal for creating a marbled look. 

3. Vivid Acid Stain – Weathered Terracotta

If you want to create a concrete floor that resembles a weathered terracotta (reddish-orange), this Vivid acid stain by Concrete Coatings is just the ticket.

This acid will etch your concrete with unique, multi-colored effects, which can be challenging to replicate, making this solution better for concrete surfaces where you aren’t trying to achieve a uniform look. 

Benefits

  • It gives your concrete a terracotta look
  • Creates unique effects
  • Indoor or outdoor use
  • Variegated color

Disadvantages

  • Only one color option
  • Can’t control the uniformity of the colors

If you’re looking for an acid stain that will match your terracotta home, the Vivid acid stain by Concrete Coatings is suitable for you.

4. INSL-X Tuffcrete Waterborne Acrylic Concrete Stain Paint

INSL-X CST231009A-01 TuffCrete Waterborne Acrylic Concrete Stain Paint, 1 Gallon, Light Gray
  • Acrylic concrete, stucco, and brick paint coating designed for application to interior or exterior, vertical, or horizontal masonry surfaces.

The INSL-X Tuffcrete concrete stain is a waterborne acrylic that can adhere to brick, stucco, and concrete for outdoor or indoor use on vertical or horizontal surfaces.

Use one coat if you want to stain your surface, or apply two coats for complete opaqueness. You can choose from desert sand, white, light gray, gray pearl, or clear. In addition to waterproofing your surface, this stain is resistant to scuffs, abrasions, dust, spills, and fading.

Benefits

  • Resistant to multiple harms
  • Stains or creates an opaque layer
  • Indoor or outdoor use
  • Versatile use

Disadvantages

  • Limited colors
  • Not technically a stain

If you’re looking for a concrete stain that can work on multiple porous services for a complete match, try this acrylic option from INSL-X.

5. BrandBold Brilliance Concrete Acid Stain

BrandBold Brilliance Concrete Acid Stain - Graphite Gray (Dark Charcoal Brown) - 1 Gallon - Step 2
  • Step 2 of 4 in Concrete Acid Stain Process; Cost effective; LEED Compliant; Maintenance free

Another suitable acid stain product is the Brilliance line by BrandBold. This acid stain comes in fourteen natural color options, ranging from blues and greens to reds, browns, and grays.

This product produces a mottled, variegated, marbled appearance for indoor or outdoor use. You may not see the expected color after applying this stain, as it’s only the second step in a five-step process. 

Benefits

  • Fourteen color options
  • Chemically reacts to concrete for replication of natural stone
  • Indoor/outdoor use
  • Versatile style options

Disadvantages

  • Requires multiple steps to get the final product
  • Acid stain is more dangerous to use DIY

The BrandBold Brilliance product line offers fourteen natural-looking colors for outdoor or indoor staining of concrete. 

6. U Do It Coatings Decorative Concrete Stain

Decorative Concrete Stain. Industrial Quality, Eco-Friendly & Deep Penetrating. 18 Colors. Samples, How-to Videos & Customer Service Available. Indoor/Outdoor use. (4 oz Sample, Antique Gray)
  • PROFESSIONAL-GRADE Concrete Stain. Easy to apply on DAMP concrete. Safe for Indoor/Outdoor use - UV Stable. Questions? Email us at Questions@uDoItCoatings.com.

U Do It Coatings makes it easy to achieve a fully completed decorative concrete stain floor in three steps – Etch (Prep), Stain (Decorate), and Seal (clear acrylic). This water-based stain comes in 18 colors with the option to purchase compatible etch and seal products. 

This decorative stain is suitable for indoor or outdoor use with UV stability and the ability to apply to damp concrete, making it great for garages, pools, jacuzzis, or concrete showers. You can even buy a four-ounce sample bottle to test the product’s color and performance on your surface before purchasing a large quantity. 

Benefits

  • Multiple color options
  • Various uses
  • Indoor or outdoor (UV protected)
  • Works on damp concrete

Disadvantages

  • Semi-transparent, so you might not get the complete decorative look
  • Vague instructions

For a stain that’s compatible with an etch and sealant from the same brand, try this decorative concrete stain by U Do It Coatings.

7. Active Elements Concrete Acid Stain

Official Concrete Acid Stain penetrating Acid Stain for Concrete Surfaces Desert Fire (red, Brown, Terra Cotta) - 1 Gallon
  • WARNING, this is not concrete paint. This is acid stain and it works differently than paint.

This Desert Fire acid stain by Active Elements changes your concrete from a pale gray to a variegation of orange, brown, red, and terracotta. Older floors may get a marbling effect.

Due to being an acid-based product, you’ll need to use the correct precautions to apply this stain safely. It can work for indoor or outdoor use, making it ideal for garages, driveways, and patios where you want a uniquely mottled effect. 

Benefits

  • Indoor and outdoor use
  • Creates unique patterns 
  • Bright rustic colors
  • Versatile uses

Disadvantages

  • Requires safety precautions during application
  • It only comes in one color

Use the Desert Fire stain by Active Elements for any concrete surfaces where you want a blend of reds and browns in unique variations and marblings.

8. EnduraCoat Acid Stain DIY Kit

Acid Stain DIY Kit with 100% Acrylic Solvent Sealer
  • Contains all of the basic products necessary to acid stain concrete.

This acid-stain DIY kit by EnduraCoat comes with everything you need to complete the job of acid-staining your concrete. Available in six colors, this kit includes the stain of your choice, a container of 100% acrylic sealer, concrete cleaner/degreaser, and reactive stain neutralizer.

You can use this stain to create unique variegated, translucent shades for concrete indoors or outside that won’t crack, fade, peel, or chip over time. There may be cases where you’ll need to use a surface conditioner or coatings stripper for the stain to soak properly.

Benefits

  • Complete kit includes everything needed to complete the staining job
  • Six color options
  • Translucent, variegated colors
  • Indoor and outdoor use

Disadvantages

  • Might require conditioner or stripper before application
  • Limited colors

Save money and shop smarter by buying an EnduraCoat acid stain DIY kit with everything you could need to change your concrete to a different color.

9. Kemiko Stone Tone Concrete Stain

Kemiko Stone Tone Concrete Stain (Golden Wheat)
  • Non-fading, chipping or peeling premium concrete stain

For stone replica concrete stains, try Kemiko Stone tone decorative stain, available in nine shades to produce concrete floors that resemble multi-hued, glazed, or marble stone. 

This zero-VOC stain works for indoor or outdoor settings, including patios, walkways, dining areas, and driveways. The application can be made via sprayer or medium or stiff bristle brush.

Benefits

  • Replicates natural stone 
  • Nine color options
  • Indoor or outdoor settings

Disadvantages

  • Requires a solvent-based sealer to protect from UV rays for outdoor use
  • Acid-based product may be harmful if used improperly

Pick up any of the nine color options by Kemiko to transform your plain gray concrete into a replica of expensive stone for a fraction of the price.

10. Surecrete EcoStain Water-Based Concrete Stain

For a water-based, zero-VOC stain that’s eco-friendly, check out Surecrete’s inventory of concrete stains, such as this Titanium Gray. There are 31 colors in total. Not having to use ammonia allows you to stain and seal your concrete on the same day for quick job completion. 

To use, you mix with water, which can produce a variety of hues. You can also mix different colors to get a mottled effect. UV-stability allows this stain to work indoors or outside, making it great for patios, garages, basements, or any concrete surface, regardless of the lime content.

Benefits

  • Mixing with water creates endless hues
  • Indoor and outdoor use
  • 1-day job completion
  • Allows for mixed colors to create a mottle

Disadvantages

  • It doesn’t penetrate deep into the concrete
  • Semi-transparent may not show the color you expected

Choose the water-based Surecrete EcoStain concrete stain to treat your indoor or outdoor concrete areas with a semi-translucent stain.

What Is Concrete Stain?

A concrete stain is a product for permanently changing the color of the concrete by soaking it into the material. This type of stain is semi-transparent, and while it will give your concrete a new look, it will not hide problem areas.

You cannot use a concrete stain to hide cracks, blemishes, rough patches, or old colors. Any type of flaws will show through any stain used. Stains will also not soak into the concrete for full saturation if there is anything on the surface – grease, oil, glues, sealer, dirt, old coatings, or curing membranes.

What Is Concrete Acid Stain?

Concrete acid stains consist of a mixture of acid-soluble metallic salts, water, and hydrochloric acid. This solution penetrates the surface, causing a chemical reaction with calcium hydroxide (lime) – one concrete component. 

As the acid etches the concrete, the salts in the stain can penetrate the porous material better. Acid stains are limited to earth tones – terracotta, light blue-green, brown, or tan. Once you stain concrete, the color becomes permanent and will not peel, chip, or fade, unlike paint.  

What Is Water Based Concrete Stain?

Water-based concrete stains have a broader spectrum of color choices outside the natural shades of acid-based. In addition to black and white, you can often find manufacturers offering metallic tints and dozens of color options.

This type of non-reactive stain is a combination of acrylic pigments and polymers that also penetrate the concrete surface to give it a permanent new color without causing a chemical reaction. You can choose from translucent to opaque water-based stains. 

Where Can I Apply Concrete Stain?

You can use concrete stain in a variety of settings, including indoors and outside. However, you will need different features for each type of concrete. Let’s look at some of the best places to use concrete stains and what you’ll need to know beforehand.

Concrete Driveways

Staining your driveway is a great way to add to your home’s curb appeal. But it won’t help if your driveway is full of cracks, broken concrete, and holes. You can use water or acid-based stains to do a smooth, unflawed driveway, depending on the color and look you want to achieve. The most common stain colors for driveways are brown, black, and gray. 

Pool Deck

Concrete pool decks are also capable of holding a stain, allowing you to upgrade your tired concrete into a beckoning patio. There are multiple color options and the choice to use acid or water-based stains that have UV-protecting pigments. The most common colors are light brown, tan, or walnut neutral colors to match the pool border.

Concrete Patio

You can also treat concrete patios with acid or water-based stains. As with any concrete surface, it needs to be smooth and without flaws for the best results. And you’ll want a product that offers UV protection to extend your patio’s longevity.

Garage Floor

Staining a garage floor can be done with acid-based or with water-based stains with UV resistance. Many people choose water-based stains for garages due to the faster and easier application process, which can take a single day versus multiple days with acid-based. People also like that you have better control of the color outcome. 

Basement Floor

Because basements often have higher moisture concentrations, it can be challenging to get the right look when staining. Moisture in the concrete can cause the colors to dilute, resulting in lighter coloring. Acid-based stains will hold more color in these conditions than water-based.

Concrete Kitchen Counters

For concrete countertops in the kitchen, staining is possible, so long as the concrete hasn’t been cleaned with muriatic acid or heavy TSP (trisodium phosphate) or waterproofed. Acid stains cannot penetrate treated concrete. 

Concrete Shower Floor

Shower floors can take on new life with a coat of acid or water-based stains. However, you must use some precautions to avoid damage to your fixtures. The acid will damage metal, which includes your shower drain. Once the stain dries, you’ll need to top it with a penetrating sealer. Epoxy, polyurethane, and acrylic work well for these conditions.

Which Type of Concrete Stain Should I Use?

To decide which product to use, consider the uses of the stain. Will you be applying it for indoor or outdoor use? While acid stains do better under outdoor elements, you can use water-based stains if you reapply sealant frequently.

You’ll also want to consider your color preferences. If you want a natural look, acid-based stains will provide the right aesthetic. But if you want a bold shade, choose a water stain. 

Your experience level will also play a significant factor in your decision. If you’ve never stained concrete before, you would probably do better using a water-based stain. Acid-based stains are more dangerous and challenging to work with and often require specialized equipment you probably don’t have on hand.

What Are the Best Concrete Stain Colors?

Although there are limitless options for color choices regarding concrete stains, that doesn’t mean that every color will be popular. 

Acid-based stains generally have variegated earth shades. Water-based stains offer a wider variety of hues, such as orange, black, yellow, and white or custom shades. 

The most popular color choices are green, brown, tan, gray, blue, and terra cotta. You can also use multiple colors together to create a mottled pattern. 

How to Stain Concrete (Step-by-Step)

Staining your concrete surfaces doesn’t require many steps, but it can be labor-intensive and time-consuming. Although these four steps sound simple, your experience level will affect the actual degree of difficulty, as will the type of stain you’re using.

Step 1 – Clean the Area

Before cleaning, cover any brickwork or other surfaces you don’t want to be stained with plastic wrap or other protective layers.

Stains require a clean, dry (some products work on damp) concrete surface, so your first step is to use a pressure washer to remove any dirt, grease, paint, wax, and other debris. If you are using an acid-based stain, you’ll also need to etch the surface. 

Step 2 – Apply Stain

The type of stain you choose will affect the application process. Some options let you use a garden pump sprayer to apply the color. You may also be able to use a roller, a brush, a rag, or a sponge. You can also use an airless paint sprayer if you have one.

Let the surface dry before applying any additional coats of concrete stain until you reach the desired color. You usually have to wait a few hours between each extra coat.

Step 3 – Neutralize Stain and Clean Up

For your stain to set correctly when using acid-based products, you’ll need to neutralize the acid contents. Potential neutralizers include ammonia, TSP, and baking soda. Water-based stains will not need this step.

Use a degreaser and a brush to remove any residue from the floor, then rinse with clean water. Mop up the water or use a shop vac and repeat the process until the water runs clear, and wiping with a white cloth does not remove the color from the floor. 

Step 4 – Seal

Your final step is to apply a sealant over your stained concrete floor to seal in color and protect the surface. Sealants come in various glosses, durabilities, features, and shades. 

A clear sealant will enhance the floor’s color while repelling water, dirt, and wear-and-tear. Sealants can take up to two days to cure completely, varying by manufacturer.

Concrete Stain FAQ

What is the best concrete stain?

Our list features ten of the best concrete stains to use for your staining needs. Concrete Resurrection (#1) produces water-based and acid-based stains that are easy to mix and apply.  

Can I DIY My Concrete Stain Project?

Attempting to DIY a concrete stain project can be a risky job if you’re inexperienced. Due to the dangerous materials, most beginners should avoid trying acid-based stains. For beginners, water-based stains are safer and easier.

When Is the Best Time to Stain Concrete?

The sooner you stain concrete after it’s hardened, the better. Attempting to stain old concrete can result in poor results. 

Can old concrete be stained?

Old concrete can hold a stain if it’s properly cleaned, free of residue, greases, oil, or waxes. The surface also has to be porous enough to hold the dye. When using acid-based paints, there has to be enough lime content to create a chemical reaction. 

Is it better to paint or stain concrete?

Stains are easier to apply than paints, and they don’t crack, peel, or chip as the paint will do over time. But you may need to make more frequent applications to retain its vibrancy.

Conclusion

In the world of concrete stains, there are plenty of options. We’ve provided you with ten choices for the best concrete stain for DIY projects. We also covered all the essential data you’ll need when deciding on the correct concrete stain for your projects. Plus, we answered some frequently asked questions.