How to Acid Stain a Concrete Patio

For an updated and more detailed tutorial please check out my in depth Acid Staining tutorial by clicking here: How to Acid Stain Concrete. You will find all sorts of updated information along with the video seen below.

Acid staining a patio can turn your boring grey concrete patio into a masterpiece. I did this particular project up at my family’s cabin and it turned out looking awesome. I am going to explain the process in a nutshell and share with you how I completed the project.

Tools and Supplies

Pressure Washer, hose
Scrub Brushes and concrete cleaning solution
Pump Sprayer from your local hardware store
Acid stain from a concrete supplier or you can easily order it online by clicking the following:
Colors used: Western Saddle, Rich Mahogany and BrownStone.
Here is a direct link to the suppliers website which shows samples of what the colors look like.

How to Acid Stain a Patio

Acid Stained Patio

Step 1:

Clean concrete thoroughly. First sweep, then power wash the entire surface 1-2 times. Scrub with a thick bristled brush to remove stains. Use concrete etchers or diluted muriatic acid for tough stains.

Step 2: Let dry thoroughly. Then protect surrounding areas by using plastic and tape to cover walls and other flooring from overspray.

Step 3: Once dry, ensure the concrete is clear of debris.

PatioBeforePhoto

Patio Prepped for Acid Stain

Step 4: Fill up a pump sprayer with water and mist the whole area. This helps the stain take more evenly and is a little more forgiving.

Step 5: Mix acid stain in another pump sprayer and dilute as required by the manufacturer. Mist the surface with the acid stain and slowly work back and forth making sure you don’t step on the area where stain has been applied.

Step 6: Highlight with other colors if desired to give the patio a little more variation.

Step 7: Allow the area to dry completely (usually 8-24 hours). Then you’ll want to mix ammonia in a bucket with water and pour it over the surface. The ammonia stops the reaction between the acid and the concrete. Grab your hose and thoroughly wash the area.

Step 8: Let the surface complete dry.

Step 9: Apply a sealer. I prefer solvent based sealers because they give it a nice shiny and durable finish. Sealers can be purchased at Sherwin Williams and other paint stores.

acidstainafter

acidstainedpatiowithfurniture

If you have any questions or would like to share your experiences with acid stain projects please comment below!

  • Stephen Ellison

    will any type of sprayer work? Will the acid eat through the rubber and plastic on a normal sprayer?

    • DIYPETE

      Hi Stephen,
      The acid will not eat through rubber or plastic but it will corrode metal. So use a sprayer with only rubber and plastic if you can.

      Cheers!

  • Adam Hildebrandt

    Hey Pete.

    Followed your directions with the walnut stain but got very little if any variations. Did I apply too much? Does every part of the surface need to be covered? Or will it “blend” as it reacts?

    Also, if I dilute more than 50% will it lighten even more?

    Thanks Pete

    • DIYPETE

      HI Adam, spraying the solution in figure 8 type patterns or random z type patterns helps a bit. The stain will react differently with each slab of concrete due to the varying levels of limestone etc. I spray the entire surface. Spraying at 50% for the original coat would give you a lighter surface. But spraying at 50% after a base layer has already been laid won’t lighten it. You could apply a different color though to have some highlights which would give your finished floor a more varied look. It’s definitely an art and you never know 100% how it will turn out. Let me know what you ended up doing. Cheers

  • Motor King

    Hello Pete, Thank you for sharing step-by-step instructions and also your YouTube tutorial. I bought some muriatic acid at Home Depot today. I am a little confused.Is this different than an acid stain I assume what you used is acid with some type of color in it a combo?
    Gabi

    • DIYPETE

      Hi Gabi! You’ll want to use concrete acid stain / reactive stain. Do not use muriatic acid. Muriatic acid is dangerous stuff, but used in very small and diluted doses to etch concrete. It will not color concrete though and is completely different from an acid stain. Concrete acid stains can be purchased at local concrete supply stores or online http://amzn.to/1YroCAa – more info can be found here: http://www.diypete.com/how-to-acid-stain-concrete/

      • Motor King

        Thank you Pete I just saw this notification haven’t been online much. Thank you for your reply!I ended up doing it with the muriatic acid and using ammonia to neutralize and then the Behr concrete dye 3 different colors, followed by Behr wet look sealer.
        Gabi

        • DIYPETE

          Very cool. Glad it went well and take care!

  • Adam Hildebrandt

    Hey pete, how long after you pour concrete should you wait to do the stain? Going to be pouring a patio soon and would love to try this.

    Also, with an outdoor patio, will I have an ice skating rink if I stain and seal the patio WITHOUT broom finishing the concrete?

    TYIA

    • diypete

      Hey Adam!

      The manufacturers will all typically recommend 28 days. To be honest I never wait that long and have been fine. I typically wait about 7-10 days. That’s up to you if you want to go before 28 days — but I’ve had no issues and have done a number of patios to help friends and family.

      As for a finish, I do recommend texture of some sort (vs hard troweled) — for an outdoor finish. My patio in the video is skip troweled so it has some random trowel marks and texture. Broom finished is another option. If you choose to go without a texture — you can use SharkGrip in the sealer which is a clear silica sand. (I’ve mixed it in epoxy garage floor paint — and sealers in garages to make the surface gritty to prevent falls). Let me know if that helps. Cheers!

  • Matt

    Question Pete, how much acid did you purchase and what was your sq ft? I have about 1700 sq ft to do.
    Cheers!

    • Hey Matt! These projects were in the neighborhood of 300 sq feet or so. I’d check the recommendations from whatever manufacturer you buy it from because it usually differs. However, acid stain goes a long ways, and I like to dilute the 100% concentrated version with about 50% water. There’s a good chance a gallon of stain would pretty easily do your project.

  • Cherylin

    How does this look on brushed concrete?

    • Pretty similar. Here is an example of a patio I did a while back that was broom finished. http://www.diypete.com/acid-stained-patio-project/ — ( I stained with a lighter color — but it stained very similar to this recent project.

      • Cherylin

        This is concrete that was just pored do I have to use the primer for it?

        • This was poured in 2009. No primers are needed for acid stains. The acid needs to react chemically with the limestone in the concrete — so you don’t want to have a barrier between the two.

  • Heidi

    I have a concrete entryway and steps leading up to it. The entryway is a smooth texture and the steps are a rough texture. Also, I have natural stone surrounding the area and river rock lining the one entire side of the steps. I plan on covering the stone before I spray but am wondering if I need to worry about the river rock.

    • Hi Heidi!

      Sounds like a fun project. I’d definitely cover the river rock. It can absorb the stain as well. Prepping to protect everything will be well worth it. Good luck! I’d love to see a before and after 🙂 Cheers – Pete

  • disqus_yYoQgHQPPo

    Pete – will it be easy to touch up certain areas? I’m staining the patio at the beginning of this summer and plan on replacing my small deck at the end of the summer. Will I be able to touch up the areas where the old 4×4 posts hit the concrete if they don’t line up perfectly?

    • If the 4×4’s don’t match up perfectly (half inch off or so etc I think you’ll be able to match it up without problems as it won’t be something you’d notice. However, if the 4×4 is totally in a different spot and the entire 4×4 spot is needing to be matched, you’ll be able to tell where the spot is. Let me know if that helps.

  • Shy Isome

    How much of each stain did you need?

    • Hi Shy!

      I bought a gallon of each color. However, you’ll only use about 1/4 to 1/2 of the bottle for each color. It doesn’t take much, plus you’ll want to dilute it with water. Let me know if you have any other questions! – Pete

  • Cindy Judd Leddon

    How do you add the other colors to blend highlight?

    • Hi Cindy! I primarily spray a base color but use a second spray want and simply move it randomly and spray smaller amounts. It blends but yet can highlight areas with another color. Let me know if that helps. Good luck and have fun with your staining project Cindy! – DIY PETE

  • Stephen

    Hi Pete! I found this information to be super helpful. I’ve just got 1 concern before I start my acid staining project. I live in the city, and have neighbors (and their landscaping) in close proximity to my patio. Additionally, I have a tree I do not want to kill with in 5 feet of the area, and directly in the path of all runoff from the patio… Am I risking doing some major damage to the tree and my neighbors landscaping?

    • Thanks Stephen, glad it is helpful! When applying the acid stain you’ll use a pump sprayer which is pretty accurate. To avoid hurting grass you could always cover the grass along the perimeter with a tarp or plastic. It is a light mist and so as long as it is not windy you’ll be pretty accurate. After the acid has reacted and dried you’ll neutralize it using baking soda or amonia, water, and a mop. Once this is neutralized and swished around you don’t need to worry about it harming things. After it’s all mopped and deactivated I like to run a hose to really rinse off the patio. If you want to have less runoff you can always use the mop as a sponge after deactivating and squeeze the dirty water/deactivated mixture into a bucket. Then do a final rinse with clean water. Let me know if that helps. I’ve done lots of patios with trees and shrubs close to the area and have never had issues. Make sure to neutralize and you should be good to go. Let me know if you have any other questions Stephen. Thanks! – DIY PETE

  • Stephen

    Hi Pete! I found this information to be super helpful. I’ve just got 1 concern before I start my acid staining project. I live in the city, and have neighbors (and their landscaping) in close proximity to my patio. Additionally, I have a tree I do not want to kill with in 5 feet of the area, and directly in the path of all runoff from the patio… Am I risking doing some major damage to the tree and my neighbors landscaping?

    • Thanks Stephen, glad it is helpful! When applying the acid stain you’ll use a pump sprayer which is pretty accurate. To avoid hurting grass you could always cover the grass along the perimeter with a tarp or plastic. It is a light mist and so as long as it is not windy you’ll be pretty accurate. After the acid has reacted and dried you’ll neutralize it using baking soda or amonia, water, and a mop. Once this is neutralized and swished around you don’t need to worry about it harming things. After it’s all mopped and deactivated I like to run a hose to really rinse off the patio. If you want to have less runoff you can always use the mop as a sponge after deactivating and squeeze the dirty water/deactivated mixture into a bucket. Then do a final rinse with clean water. Let me know if that helps. I’ve done lots of patios with trees and shrubs close to the area and have never had issues. Make sure to neutralize and you should be good to go. Let me know if you have any other questions Stephen. Thanks! – DIY PETE