How to Acid Stain Garage Floor: Step by Step Guide With Video

Acid staining your garage floor is an easy way to make your garage look better. It is a relatively inexpensive way to upgrade your garage. It will protect your floor from any damage while making it look great. It will be much cheaper if you acid stains your garage floor yourself. When you get it done by a professional, the price varies depending on your location, the demand, the area you want to stain, and how complicated the job is.

When you do it yourself, you only have to pay for the tools and the material. You will need the tools anyway when you reapply the stain every two years. So, the question is, how exactly do you acid stain the garage floor?

To acid stain, your garage floor, pour the acid stain on the floor and use a broom or a brush to scour the acid stain into the surface. It would be best if you cleaned your floor well before you stain it. If you don’t, the stain won’t penetrate the dirty places well, and there will be a visible difference.

You also have to neutralize the floor after staining it to return it to the basic pH state. You will have to clean it and rinse it a few times to ensure there is no residue. Once you’re sure there’s no residue, you should apply a sealer to protect your stained floor and add a glossy shine to your floor. You can choose to wax your floor additionally.

Remember to protect your floor from any furniture you have in the garage by applying Teflon pads or sliders, so they don’t scratch your floor. You should re-wax your floor every three months if you have a lot of foot traffic in your garage and re-stain it every two years. 

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Best Products to Acid Stain a Garage Floor

Grout & Granite Penetrating Sealer from Clean-EEZ

This stain is suitable for both sanded or unsanded grout. It is very long-lasting. It’s great for people who don’t want any color on their floor, as it is clear. You won’t need to spend a lot of time cleaning it, because it sits for 5 minutes only. After that, you will have to collect some warm water and mop the residual sealer. It’s also great because it doesn’t have any odor. Most stains have strong odors that can cause headaches. Get this sealer on this link.

VIVID Acid Stain Walnut

This stain will allow you to have a complete transformation for your concrete surfaces. It covers about 200-300 sq. feet per gallon. It dries out very fast, and it has excellent bonding strength. However, as with all stains, you can’t guarantee the exact color. Get this stain on this link here. 

EnduraCoat Acid Stain DIY Kit with 100% Acrylic Solvent Sealer

You will get everything you need in this pack. It includes concrete stain, cleaner, neutralizer, and sealer. It provides you with high-quality and long-lasting color on the concrete that does not go away in years. There are also seven colors you can choose from: Walnut, Seagrass, desert amber, Just blue, red sienna, shifting sand, and empress jade. All products are straightforward to use, and they don’t require you to have any prior experience. Get this great pack on this link

 BrandBold Brilliance Concrete Acid Stain Sealer

BrandBold Brilliance Concrete Acid Stain Sealer will allow you to get a nice glossy finish that does not get yellowish after a few years. It comes with a low VOC, safe to use on interior and exterior concrete surfaces. However, you will have to make sure that the surface is clean before you apply it. A gallon of this stain can cover 200 square feet of the surface with a recommended two coats of application. You will have to adjust the amount depending on how dark you want your floor to be. Get this stain on this link.

VIVID Acid Stain Coffee

VIVID Acid Coffee Stain is an excellent stain for concrete because it can bring out the natural variegated appearance of a concrete surface. It has a high-quality formulation that delivers an average penetration to bond with the minerals in the concrete, which makes the stain strong and durable. This stain doesn’t chip, fade, or peel off after a while. However, this stain is toxic, so you will have to use a respirator while you stain your floor. Get this stain on this link

VIVID Acid Stain Mahagony

VIVID Acid Stain Mahagony delivers the best-variegated color to concrete surfaces. It penetrates the top layer of your concrete for strong bonding with the minerals inside the concrete, which brings out a durable color for your surface and an excellent variegated appearance. This stain is difficult to crack, chip, or peel. Get this stain on this link. 

Cost of Acid Staining a Garage Floor

If you do it yourself, acid staining your garage floor will cost you much less. Some stores sell complete kits, including all necessary tools and a sealer for a little over $400 for a typical 2-car garage. If you already have all the tools, you can buy the stains and acrylic sealer separately for a little over $300.

If you hire someone else to do it, it will cost you somewhere between $2 and $25 per square foot. Many things will influence the price of the acid staining garage floor. One such thing is the complexity of stain application. If your projects include faux finish, multiple colors, or saw cut, sandblasted, or stenciled designs, it will cost more because of the extra time and effort the contractor will have to put into it. 

Another thing that can influence the price is your location. The price will vary by your location and the demand for staining floors at that moment. 

The price of acid staining on your old floor will be much higher than that of acid staining on a new floor because the new floor hasn’t been sealed or previously covered with another flooring material.

It is also possible that your contractor will raise the price if your old carpet, tiles, or needs to be removed and the underlying concrete ground and cleaned.

Most contractors will reduce the price per square foot as the job increases. 

Should you DIY or hire someone else?

If you have the patience, you can stain your garage floor yourself to reduce the cost. However, keep in mind that you should read all the instructions and clean your floor correctly before staining it. Watch the process in this video. 

DIY Acid Stain Your Garage Floor

Prepare Your Concrete Surface.

Cleaning the concrete is essential in successfully acid staining your garage floor. Your floor has to be free of debris, dirt, oils, paint, drywall mud, adhesives, sealers, and stains of any kind. The acid stain will not respond properly with the concrete if the floor is dirty or there’s something on it.

It would be best if you didn’t treat the area before staining with a waterproofing agent, cleaned with muriatic acid, or an overwhelming trisodium phosphate solution. Acid stain reaction can’t happen on surfaces treated with these products.

If you have a freshly poured concrete garage floor, you will have to wait for 20 to 28 days to acid stain it. 

If you have a more seasoned, excessively power-washed, or mechanically-profiled concrete, the surface must be intact, without any uncovered aggregate or sand particles. The acid stain doesn’t stain sand, rocks, or aggregate.

Exposed aggregate and depleted concrete can result in a color conflicting with the acid stain color chart.

If your concrete is slick and machine-troweled, it will have to be mechanically or chemically etched for a complete acid stain reaction to happen. If you notice any dark gray zones on the floor, you should spray it with a floor prep spray and sand it with an 80-grit sanding pad before applying the stain.

Your new concrete floor to have a great chemical response with the acid stain. It should have less than 10% fly ash.

Clean Your Garage Floor.

Regardless of the brand of the stain you’ve chosen, your concrete should be perfectly clean before you apply it. You can go over the surface with the plastic pump spray filled with water and subsequently scour it with a push broom, or you can use a pressure washer. To speed up the drying time, vacuum up the water. 

Apply Your Acid Stain

Make sure you use goggles, gloves, and a dust mask while working with concrete acid stain. It would be best if you kept the door of your garage open for better ventilation. In case you can’t keep it open for some reason, you should use a respirator. You need to prepare your room by protecting all surfaces and walls, so you don’t get the stain on them.

You can find different widths of masking paper in the painting segment at home improvement stores. You can use tape to attach the masking paper to the walls. 

Put the acid stain in your clean pump sprayer. It will be much easier to apply the stain to your floor if you have someone helping you. If you have someone who can help you, one of you should spray on the acid stain in a semi-unpredictable design, going back and forth in different directions.

At the same time, the other one follows behind with the broom, scouring the acid stain into the surface. The person spraying the acid can go back over if needed to cover any brush marks or spots that show up to have less coverage.

If you’re doing this yourself, apply the stain on the small area first, about 3 feet by 3 feet. You can go over and brush the acid stain and respray if needed to cover brush marks. Every time you go over the stain, do it in a different direction. That way, your floor will look better. 

Make sure you have an exit strategy, a way to exit the garage without stepping on the acid stain. Any steps you make on the acid stain will show, so make sure you brush and spray over the footprint.

If you want a darker tone, you will have to brush the acid stain into the surface using consistent circular strokes. When using a brush, spray on a second coat to eliminate any brush strokes on the surface. You don’t have to do this if you want your finish to have brush strokes. 

New concrete won’t usually need two layers of acid stain, but older concrete will. If you want a more diffuse look, spray the stain onto the surface without brushing.

You can apply one coat of your base color and quickly apply accent coats while the stain is still damp to give a more natural appearance on the slab.

Keep applying the lighter to darker colored accents until you’re happy with the results.

Neutralize the Stained Concrete Floor.

It might seem odd to clean the floor you’ve worked so hard to color, but this is a step you have to do to expel any extra acid buildup, which could cause issues once you get to seal the floor. When you decide that the floor is dark enough, use a mop and scrub brush to scour it with an ammonia and water solution.

You can make this solution by mixing a cup of ammonia with a gallon of water. Apply the neutralizing solution to the floor and rinse it 2-3 times with new water until the wash water is mostly clear.

Neutralizing is essential to stop the chemical reaction and balance the pH levels. You should return the concrete to a basic state while expelling any unreacted stain and stain buildup.

You will also have to clean and scrub with an alkaline cleanser to break down stain residue and neutralize the surface. You will once again use a broom or walk-behind scrubber. You will probably have to scrub your floor a few times.

You can take a pH test to make sure that you appropriately neutralized the surface. If you did, you should wash the floor with clean water and let it dry for at least 24 hours before moving on to the next step. 

Seal Your Acid Stained Concrete

It would be best to choose a sealer that won’t get destroyed by car tires, chemical drips, climate, and everyday wear and tear. Applying a clear coat of sealer will protect your floor. It will also give it the “wet look” and brings out the color of the stain. 

You can apply the stain to your floor with a roller with a long handle. You should make smooth strokes with the roller and try not to overwork the clear coat. If you want to, you can apply two coats. Don’t worry if the sealer looks white while you apply it, it will dry to a clear finish, and you’ll be adding multiple thin coats, which will balance out the color. 

Additional Tips for Acid Staining Your Garage Floor?

  • It is very important that you clean the concrete. Remove all paint, sheetrock putty, oil, grease, gum, dirt, and any other contaminants. If you leave any of it, the acid stain won’t react with it, and it will be very visible on the finished floor. 
  • Don’t use an acid-based product to clean your concrete. All you will need to properly clean your concrete is a mild degreaser, mineral spirits, scrub brush, wire brush, putty knife, and warm water. Rinse at least 3 times to remove all the residue. Wipe your hand on the floor to see if you’ve cleaned it well. If you don’t feel any dirt or have any dust on your palm, you did a good job.
  • Try to choose at least 3 colors that are close to the color that you like. The color of the acid stain on your floor won’t look like it does on the color chart. Acid tends to react differently with every concrete floor based on how much of which ingredient it has. 
  • Do samples on your floor before you settle on which one you want to use. A lot of companies will have samples they can sell you, so always ask for a sample before you buy the acid stain. That way you will know exactly what the stain will look like on your floor. These samples will have to be sealed, otherwise, you won’t be able to tell exactly what the stain will look like when finished.
  • Always buy more stain than you think you will need. Most time people find themselves needing more acid stain while they are staining their floor. You will get the best results if you stain your whole floor at the same time. You should also get extra in case you want to do a second coat of acid stain.
  • Make sure you mix multiple bottles of the same color of acid stain together in a 5-gallon bucket because different batches could give you different results on your concrete floor, patio, or driveway. 
  • Some manufacturers will recommend that you cut the acid stain with water 1:1. In case your concrete is hard troweled and very smooth the diluted solution might not be strong enough to etch the concrete and deposit the color. Then you’ll have to use the acid stain full strength. Try staining your floor both ways when doing a sample to see which one you like better.
  • You should protect yourself at all times with rubber gloves, goggles, safety glasses, mask, proper clothing, and protect the surroundings with plastic and tape. If you don’t protect yourself, the acid stain will burn your skin, and it can also etch glass, stain wood, and kill grass and plants. Take your time to cover anything you don’t want overspray or drips to get on.
  • Make sure you always have a back-up sprayer. Acid-resistant sprayers are cheap, but they are also cheaply-made, which means that they break down easily. Have one or two as a backup and you can always return the one you didn’t use. You should test the sprayer with water before staining, and adjust the wand to spray a fine mist for application of the acid stain.
  • You should follow the manufactures directions for spraying the acid stain, letting it react with the concrete, neutralizing, and rinsing. You should rinse the stain at least 3 times after neutralizing the acid. If you don’t rinse properly, your concrete sealer won’t work. 
  • When you’re done staining your concrete, you will need to apply acrylic, solvent-based, concrete sealer. If you want additional protection and shine, you can also do 2 coats of wax. 

How to Care for Acid Stained Garage Floors

It would help clean up all stains as soon as you notice them, so they don’t soak in and permanently stain the floor. Some cleaning products can affect the look of your stained floor, which is why you should make sure you use the appropriate cleaning product.

If you have any grease stains, you should apply baking soda over the area and allow it to absorb the stain, then use a cleaner meant for grease. You can remove dirt, rust, or mold stains by rubbing. Steam cleaning can remove other stains.

You can clean your acid-stained garage floor by mechanical, chemical, or steam cleaning. Mechanical cleaning will involve a brush and an abrasive cleaner to scour the surface of the floor. Chemical cleaners are formulated especially for concrete, but make sure you use only products rated for colored or treated concrete.

You can power away stains on the surface of concrete floors with steam cleaning, as well as disinfect concrete, though you should thoroughly dry floors afterward.

Concrete floors don’t need any complicated cleaning methods for everyday cleaning. You can remove most dirt and stains with a brush and water. Once sealed, you can use ammonia, vinegar, and liquid soap for everyday cleaning.

The best brush for working the cleaning product into the floor is a long-handled brush. Always start cleaning with mild soap and water and if that’s not strong enough, use soap and ammonia.

It would be best if you reapplied the sealer every two years.

If you decide to wax the floor, you will have to re-wax it about four times a year, depending on how much foot traffic there is in your garage. 

If you have any furniture in your garage, make sure you apply Teflon pads or sliders under it to protect your floor from scratches. 

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Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections for 17 years. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. I started HomeInspectionInsider.com to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.

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