What is an Acid Stain?

Acid Stain is not a paint or a sealer. Acid Stain colors the concrete by creating a chemical reaction. A solution with acid, inorganic salts and water reacts with minerals that are already present in the concrete. This reaction creates color. It is a process in which we roll on or spray a reactive acid-stain over clean concrete to create a permanent marbled stain finish. The acid in the stain reacts with lime in the concrete to produce unique variegated finishes that penetrate about 1/8" to 1/4" into the concrete. The resulting color varies widely based on the amount of limestone and concrete mix when poured and makes for a more unique look with every job.


Can I use Acid Stain anywhere I want?

Acid Stain is not for every concrete floor. The concrete MUST be bare. There can be no sealers, curing compounds, bond breakers, paints, etc. on the surface. The surface must be clean and free of grease or any other contamination that would prevent the reaction from occurring.


Is Acid Stain for interior use?

Acid Stain can be used on the interior or exterior. Some Acid Stain colors may be more sensitive to moisture and can not be used on the exterior. Verify the color being used is not moisture sensitive.


What is the most important step in my Acid Stain job?

Depending on the desired look and use of the concrete slab, some clients opt to acid stain over some of the surface contaminants and just go with the result. Also mechanically grinding the surface can eliminate some or most surface issues and allow the concrete to be stained. It must be noted that some chemical spills that penetrate deep may not take. However, if the slab has ever been acid washed, the color will not take as effectively or not at all in spots. Talk to our decorative tech about realistic expectations before deciding if acid staining is the right choice for you. Expectations should be evaluated before deciding to proceed with acid staining.


What can be done if my concrete was finished with curing compounds or a sealer?

The surface of the concrete can be re-profiled to grind down the existing surface removing any such chemicals. Depending on the depth of the grinding needed, sometimes the aggregate rocks are exposed in the surface. This can be a random effect since this is controlled by the original concrete mix-design and finishing process. Some clients actually like the irregular and unpredictable "custom" design this can create. The aggregate will color differently than the surrounding concrete. This profiling process is usually necessary after removing most carpets and tiles.


Will a water based sealer and solvent based sealer give the same appearance?

No. A solvent-based sealer will create a darker appearance because it will penetrate deeper into the concrete than a water bases sealer.


Do I always need to apply a floor finish or wax after I apply a sealer?

A floor finish is designed for interior use only and should not be used on exterior jobs. On interior jobs a floor finish will provide an ideal finish in high traffic areas such as schools, office building, shopping malls, hospitals, hotels and restaurants.


Can I intermix colors to create my own color?

Yes! Intermixing colors is common in the Acid Stain industry. This allows you to expand the color possibilities. But, be sure to keep a record of the mixing "recipe" used so you can recreate it if necessary.


How long does the concrete have to dry before it can be stained?

Generally, freshly poured concrete should "cure" for 28 days before staining. This is recommended by most manufacturers. If you are currently pouring new construction and plan to acid stain the concrete after curing, contact us for guidance on what would bring the best outcome.


Can you make regular or existing concrete or aggregate look like stamped concrete?

Yes. We use our Stamped Overlay System to apply an overlay on your existing concrete or aggregate, then stamp and finish the area the same way as stamping fresh-poured concrete. Overlay systems were developed to be applied from 1/4" to 1/2" thick without cracking and bond to existing concrete underneath to create one solid mass of concrete. Overlay systems are extremely durable as the color-hardener cures to 6,000 PSI after 28 days vs. the standard 3000 PSI. It comes in a variety of colors and Concrete Elegance offers 20 different stamp patterns from which our customers can choose. And, if you don’t see a pattern you want, contact us and we’ll get the one you want!


What is the process for turning "regular" concrete in to stamped concrete?

Once we pour concrete in to the forms and float the concrete level, we project a powdered color hardener in the color you choose (let’s say Sun Buff) over the gray concrete. Once we float the color into the concrete, now the concrete is Sun Buff. Just before we stamp, we project another color called a Release or Antiquing agent. This is a fine powder that is usually darker than the base color (say Dark Gray). The Dark Gray release powder acts in two ways: 1 - It prevents a barrier between the soft concrete and the stamp patterns, so concrete does not lift up when we pick stamps up off the concrete. 2 - The darker release powder also gets stamped into the grout lines and deep points of the stones on the patterns. After rinsing, the Sun Buff base color is re-exposed on the high points of the stones, while the Dark Gray release color stays in the grout line and deep points of the stones. This gives a natural and authentic finish to the stamped concrete so it closely resembles natural stone or whatever pattern was chosen. As far as the stamp patterns, Concrete Elegance offers many different stamp patterns to give our customers greater flexibility in their design options. The patterns are made of durable hard rubber and are molded from actual flagstone, brick, slate, etc. There are usually six to ten stamps in a set and when the concrete is in a plastic state, the stamps are placed on the colored concrete in a grid layout. A decorative tech stands on the stamp patterns and uses a tamper tool to imprint the texture of the stamp mold into the soft concrete. The concrete dries and cures in these shapes and textures to give the appearance of a natural stone or wooden hardscape.


Is a decorative concrete floor slippery?

In most cases, a decorative concrete floor is no more slippery than vinyl or ceramic tile. Application of a high-gloss sealer to protect and enhance decorative concrete may reduce traction somewhat, but that’s easily remedied by mixing a non-slip additive to the stain or sealer before application.


Are floor coverings cheaper to install than decorative concrete?

The initial outlay for decorative concrete may exceed the cost of a low-to-mid priced floor covering, such as carpeting, vinyl tile, and wood laminates. However, the life expectancy of a concrete floor will far surpass that of most floor covering materials. Decorative concrete can also endure water exposure from occasional seepage into the basement after heavy rains, unlike water-sensitive floor coverings that can peel up, warp or mildew. That means that in the long run homeowners save money because they never need to rip out and replace worn or water-damaged flooring. When compared to high-end floor coverings, such as ceramic tile, slate, and marble, decorative concrete is often an economical alternative. Plus, skilled concrete artisans can duplicate the look of these pricier materials. If time is money, then homeowners can also cash in on the low maintenance needs of decorative concrete. Typically, just occasional sweeping and damp mopping will keep the floor looking like new for many years. When protected with a good sealer, concrete floors also resist staining, chemicals and abrasion.


If cracks in concrete floors are inevitable, is it better to cover them up than to live with them?

Unless the cracks are serious and due to structural issues, it’s better to live with them. Many customers even like the rustic, fractured look. If the cracks are perceived as an eyesore, a polymer-modified cement-based overlay is an easy solution for hiding them and can accept a wide array of decorative treatments, including staining, stamping, and stenciling.


Are concrete floors cold and damp?

This is rarely true in properly constructed newer homes because they are better insulated than older homes and today’s building codes typically require installation of a vapor barrier under the slab to block moisture migration. To keep concrete floors warmer underfoot in winter, homeowners can install in-floor radiant heat before the slab is poured. Basements are one of the most popular areas to install these systems, which circulated heated water through polyethylene tubing. Some systems can also be retrofit into existing basements by covering the tubing with a self leveling overlay.

Thank you so much for the beautiful floor and all your dedication and attention to detail. It is beautiful. We will spread the word!


Thank you for our new floors. you guys do awesome work!


We appreciate the personal touch you gave to the project and the professional manner in which you conduct business.