Water-Based Concrete Staining

Water-based concrete staining is an alternative to acid concrete staining. Water-based stains or dye stains do not involve a chemical reaction to create color. They are a mixture of pigments and acrylic polymers which fill the pores of the concrete and coat the surface to produce the stained effect. Since it does not rely on any chemical reaction with the concrete, the color is more consistent throughout the entire floor.

Water-based stains are easy to apply, safer, free of solvents and acids, and are low in volatile organic compounds, so there are those who claim that water-based stains are environment friendly. They do not contain dangerous chemicals that can harm the skin. When you are staining outdoor surfaces, water-based stains do not harm the nearby foliage.

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Dye stains have become popular over the past few years because they come in a variety of colors. Unlike acid-stained concrete floors which are generally translucent, dye-stained floors are more opaque, much more uniform in color, more durable, easy to maintain, and quite attractive. Most manufacturers offer several standard colors which include white, black, and metallic tints. Like water-based paints, you can mix different colors to widen your color options.

Keep in mind that when using concrete stain, be it acid stain or water-based stain, always check the manufacturer’s recommendations and instructions to make sure you are satisfied with the color and the results.



When you decide to apply the dye stain yourself, you have to clean and dry your concrete floor for better absorption of the stain. To have a smoother finish, remove any oil, paint, glue, or other debris from the surface. Thoroughly wash the surface. You can do pressure washing if you are staining outdoors. If you are doing indoor staining, be sure that the cleaning agent you are using does not leave any residue. Make sure your concrete is completely dry before you begin the staining process.

There should be at least two applications of water-based stains to get the best result. The first coat penetrates into the concrete and seals it. You won’t see much color after the first coat. The second coat which is to be applied thinly after 12 to 24 hours may show the desired color already. Be sure the surface is completely dry before any more application is done. You may want to add a third coat to intensify the color.


After making sure that the surface is fully dry, apply sealers to make it more durable and to make it last longer. Concrete sealants help to reduce fading by locking the staining pigment into the concrete. You may apply the sealant by using a paintbrush or a garden sprayer, depending on the instructions of the sealant manufacturer. Let the sealant dry for 24 hours before the stained concrete floor can be used.

Though the process seems simple and you want to save on labor cost by doing it yourself, it is still best to hire a concrete staining professional to do the job for you.