Concrete Acid Stain: The Ultimate DIY

31 Jan

Often times when I think about the way Jefe and I work together, I think about the expression “Go big or go home!” We are both huge DIY’ers that our equally stubborn personalities have lead us to awesome high-five-moments and extremely frustrating and disappointing failures. I am not a big spender so everything I see I self-soothe by telling myself I can make it. This goes one of four ways: I don’t ever get around to it; I attempt it and fail; I attempt and customize it to meet my needs; or I luckily find it on sale/clearance later! haha! I grew up knowing that you had to be creative to make your clothes look new/different/etc. Geoff grew up loving to work on anything and everything. The majority of G’s friends are the exact same way. All so crafty in manly ways that leave the girls in awe and frustration, all in one. His brother and father are the exact same way. They all have vehicles they have built themselves and continue to work on.  We have done a million DIY projects throughout the almost decade we have been in a relationship with each other. The major ones have always included his vehicles or our home, but since we bought our home brand new, the major DIY stuff has been projects, rather than actual renovations, if that makes sense. Probably my most favorite project was our wedding. Absolutely [almost] everything was made instead of purchased. & I loved every.single.second of it! :]

That brings me to our biggest home project to date: acid staining our living room concrete. Geoff had been talking about wanting to do it since we bought our home. One of his friends had bare concrete and he always loved the look. But when we purchased our home, I told him I wanted a less “bachelor pad” look, which is what I always had felt our apartments had looked like. Our home came with really nice, plush, stain-resistant carpet, so I didn’t see the need in disposing of it. Until, Honey Munster decided to mark her territory. Often times…over and over again. Last December 2010, we ended up changing a 4×6 part of our carpet; it matched perfectly and you couldn’t tell the difference but we still weren’t happy with it. So we started talking about placing tile. Well, all of our bathrooms and kitchen have the same tile. Porcelain ceramic…which equals cha-ching. We shopped around for a really long time and were quoted at $3,000 for the same tile, and of course the cost would come down for labor if we did it ourselves, which we knew we would but we couldn’t imagine spending so much on one room’s floor to our starter home. We looked into other tile options but we didn’t like that it wouldn’t match. So a few months ago, Geoff started talking about acid staining our concrete. I started doing research and found that:

The cons [-]

1. You have absolutely no idea how your concrete will react until the whole project is DONE.

2. You have absolutely no idea what shape your concrete is in until you pull up your concrete.

3. It is so so so so so much work!

The pros [+]

1. Extremely cost effective when comparing it to tile, laminate, carpet. We spent approximately $300 [$200 on the actual products- which we had to buy in SD, by the way; and $100 on supplies- luckily we were able to borrow a buffer and great shop vac, which saved us some ca$h-money].

2. If done correctly, the results are breathtaking and can actually add value to your home. A lot of higher end homes now come with acid-stain in lieu of tile/carpet.

3. You can add stenciling, etching, designs, etc. As much as I reeeeeeally wanted to, we decided not to since our living room is small and we didn’t want to be constrained to a particular furniture arrangement. Plus, we wanted to keep it as neutral as possible for future renters/homeowners.

4. If your project fails, you can easily cover it up!

It took us a total of two weeks, with us being gone one weekend and working only on the evenings. It definitely would have taken us a lot less time if we could have worked on it full time. The hardest part is cleaning your concrete. Over and over and over and over and over and over again. Yes, and more literally, more times than that! The actual staining, sealing and waxing part is done so quickly. If you have a clean slab, or microtop your current concrete, you can be done in three days! Staining, sealing and waxing (with each being done twice) each took about 20-30 minutes. Yup, that fast and it’s suuuper easy!

We hated cleaning the concrete. I ended up with a giant knot under my shoulder blade that left my in horrid pain this last weekend. So much that I actually almost went to the hospital [but didn’t because according to the ER, Geoff’s cancer was a UTI…go figure!]. Anyway, thanks to our friend who is a massage therapist and some muscle relaxers, I’m doing better! ;]

The fun part: PICTURES!

Week One

[L to R:  initial tear-up of carpet (done in total J-fashion at 10pm on a weekend night); tons of adhesive, paint, cracks, holes, tack strips, nails: sad; buffer, mop, and shop-vac ready to do work after a week of just pure elbow grease; G looking exasperated after a few days of work- yes, look at the top pictures and the difference in the bottom two. There were major improvements and yet it still had such a looong way to go! Geoff’s parents saw that we had posted on FB that we were looking for help and being the sweethearts that they are, they came to help the first full day!]

When we pulled up our carpet, we were shocked by the amount of dust we swept up underneath! We couldn’t believe it! I wish we would have snapped a picture. I don’t think I’ll ever purposely have carpet in a living room again. I enjoy it in our bedroom but definitely not with all that dust downstairs. Arizona is very dusty and it’s very windy at times; our big windows and nearby fields don’t lend themselves to keeping dust out, but I never realized how much the carpet absorbed. Geoff and I have always shampooed our carpets every few months on a very consistent basis [thanks to his parents having a machine] so we were very surprised by this! Eek!

Week Two

[L to R: after the shop-vac, mop, and buffer have helped us out a bit; finally seeing clean and fresh concrete; after staining twice; after sealing].

As you can see, it was A LOT of work. Do we recommend it, YES. But be prepared to work and hope your concrete was in better shape than ours. However, if you can find microtopping concrete, it’ll save you a lot of time. Yes, it’ll cost more, but we were willing to do that! Just couldn’t find any anywhere near us. :/ But now we’re happy we didn’t shortcut anything because this is what we were left with:

[after waxing; all done!]

Can’t wait to furnish our living room now! & we KNOW Honey Munster is going to be SO happy to be able to not be quarantined to upstairs after two weeks! Poor, baby!

Honey Munster sulking. 

When I was researching DIY acid staining, I didn’t find make tutorials or resources. So if anyone is serious about doing this and needs help, do not hesitate to ask. We learned SO much in these last few weeks and a lot of was trial and error that we wish we would have known ahead of time. But we didn’t know anyone who had done this, nor did we find much help at every business we attempted to receive assistance. Ultimately, we are extremely happy with our end results and anticipate seeing how it’ll look once our living room is set up and of course, see how it keeps up!

Anyone motivated to do theirs? ;]

P.S. As I’m typing this, there’s a home design show on TV…I just looked up and all the floors are acid stained. Woot!

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16 Responses to “Concrete Acid Stain: The Ultimate DIY”

  1. Fritzy January 31, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

    O…M…G…
    That looks SO fantastic!!!
    I absolutely loved reading all about this and I wish I was there to see it in person!
    Nice work J and G – you never cease to amaze me!
    ❤ Fritzy

    • cooklovelaugh January 31, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

      Fritzy, you are soo supportive and sweet! Thank you so much :]

  2. Rebecca February 15, 2012 at 6:05 am #

    That looks awesome! Nice work!

  3. aimee March 1, 2013 at 9:38 pm #

    I want to do this REALLY badly as my starter home is all carpet and linoleum – and not a color that works for me either. But my house has a very open floor plan – the living/dining/weird random hallway/and entryway all run together. How likely would you think it is that I could do this all at once… or in other words.. can you walk on this during the process? And when the stain/seal part comes, how long does that take until it can be touched? We gotta live here!! =) Its going to be like 1200 square feet of staining.

    • cooklovelaugh June 14, 2013 at 7:21 am #

      Aimee, did you ever get around to doing it? I took a hiatus and just saw this! Sorry! Let me know!

  4. MWinn May 1, 2013 at 2:16 am #

    Hi,
    I loved your post. What products did you use for this? I live in FL now where people use well water for watering their yards. The well water stains the concrete. This process would allow the well water to blend with the concrete but I am having problems finding the right products to use. I would be grateful for any suggestions. Thanks!

    • cooklovelaugh June 14, 2013 at 7:24 am #

      Hi! Did you ever find your products? We used Kemiko!

  5. Katie J. May 31, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

    This looks amazing! What kind of stain did you recommend using? We were also looking into doing our bedroom… do you think it’s a good idea?

    • cooklovelaugh June 14, 2013 at 7:24 am #

      Absolutely! You will love it! Be prepared to sweep and mop, rather than vacuum! Kemiko!

  6. Kate June 13, 2013 at 5:41 pm #

    I am looking into do this in our kitchen\dinningroom/living room. Your tutorial was amazing and the floor looks great!! I would greatly appreciate any tips you have. Like a certain kind of product to use ect.. Thank you so much in advance

    • cooklovelaugh June 14, 2013 at 7:26 am #

      Hi Kate! We used Kemiko products! We love it! We do need to re-shine/wax at this point but it’s been over a year now! I suggest having a lot of patience and recruiting everyone around you to help clean your floors! Rent a shop vac and a buffer, too!

  7. caryn June 27, 2013 at 9:56 pm #

    I would really like to do this myself! Di you think an older lady with bursts of energy could do this? Living in the Netherlands and I’m so tired looking for “how to” advice. So thanks for your photo’s and remarks! Now I have to look for the stuff to buy in the netherlands to get a beautiful concrete floor. Acid stained would be something like: zuurbasis? Would you know a solution to get the material bought somewhere in Europe?

  8. Kimberlydup September 29, 2013 at 1:35 am #

    Enjoyed the info. We are about to do our entire house. Did you just patch the chips and nail holes? How did those areas take the stain? Did the strain react differently in those areas?

    • cooklovelaugh September 29, 2013 at 7:06 am #

      Thank you! We actually left the holes as they were! If you patch them, the new concrete will react differently to the stain and it will be more noticeable! Hope that helps!

  9. Erica April 26, 2014 at 6:57 am #

    Hi, I just bought a home in the Phoenix area and am looking at doing this before I move into my home as the entire house has been recarpeted recently but I have a few dogs. Where did you get your supplies? Did you research doing the acid stain vs. water stain? Also, I know you had said in your post the bulk of the work was in cleaning – is it just a matter of buffing, sweeping and mopping over and over or was there more in-depth steps? Thanks in advance!

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