Concrete Acid Stain | Direct Colors (2022)

Table of Contents
Product Details Before Acid Staining: Know Your Concrete Applying Concrete Acid Stain Tips Neutralizing Tips Sealing Tips Waxing Tips (Indoors Only) FAQ I’ve just applied acid stain to my concrete and after it dried, it barely has any color. What happened? Why didn’t EverStain™ work on my concrete? How much surface preparation is required before applying EverStain™ Acid Stain? I purchased the amount of product your concrete stain calculator recommended based on my square footage, and still needed more. What happened? What happens if you stain concrete before it cures? Do I have to let my concrete surface dry after cleaning, prior to applying acid stain? I have a new concrete/new pavers. I want to change the gray to match some existing concrete/pavers I have nearby. Can I use EverStain™ Acid Stain for this project? Can you put acid stain over concrete sealer? Can I put tinted sealer over acid stain to darken the color? Do I wait for my first coat of acid stain to dry before applying the second coat/color? Can I dilute the acid stain with water? How-To Guide Printable EverStain™ How-To Guide How-To Videos Data Sheets Printable EverStain™ - Avocado SDSPrintable EverStain™ - Azure Blue SDSPrintable EverStain™ - Black SDSPrintable EverStain™ - Coffee Brown SDSPrintable EverStain™ - Cola SDSPrintable EverStain™ - Desert Amber SDSPrintable EverStain™ - English Red SDSPrintable EverStain™ - Malayan Buff SDSPrintable EverStain™ - Seagrass SDSPrintable EverStain™ - Shifting Sand SDS Color Chart
  • InfoDetails
  • FAQ
  • How-ToHow-To Guide
  • VideoHow-To Videos
  • DataData Sheets
  • ColorsColor Chart

Product Details

EverStain™ provides a permanent color change to your concrete and is well-suited for almost any concrete surface. Smooth concrete typically results in a more distinctive marbleization of color than porous or brushed concrete surfaces.

If your concrete is badly weathered and you see a fair amount of sand and/or stone aggregate, be aware that EverStain™ will not color aggregate. In this case, consider either resurfacing with Direct Colors Concrete Overlay and then applying EverStain™, or use one of our other colorants such as Portico™ Paver Stain.

Quick Facts

  • Application Tool: Pump sprayer, sponge or foam brush
  • Dry Time: Up to 12 hours depending on desired intensity
  • Cleanup: Organic cleaner and degreaser
  • Coverage: 200 square feet per gallon
  • Outdoor Sealer:EasySeal Sealer. Bundle and save with our
  • Indoor Sealer:AcquaSeal Sealer. Bundle and save with our

Direct ColorsDIY Concrete Acid Stain Kithas all the tools and products for a 200 sq. ft project.

How does EverStainAcid Stain work?

Everstain is a blend of metal salts, low acid content, and water. The formula of chemicals reacts with the mineral content (calcium/lime in Portland cement) of your concrete, causing it to turn a relatively predictable color.

There is no slab of concrete that has a perfect blend of minerals throughout, so whenever the mineral concentrations are lighter, the acid stain will be lighter. This is what provides that famous marbleization that we all love!

Note: All project images on our website have been provided by actual customers using Direct Colors EverStain Acid Stains. Use our project photos for inspiration butalways test a small areabefore you embark on a full project to make sure your slab develps in the desired manner.

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What Colors Are Acid Stains?

Acid stains typically come in 10 different colors. Acid stain colors are translucent and the overall effect has an element of unpredictability because the color outcome depends on the reaction between the stain and the components of your concrete slab.

For stunning acid stain color combination ideas, visit Direct Colors Concrete Acid Stain Color Guide.

We highly recommend testing small areas or samples prior to starting a project, since the final color may differ significantly from what is shown on the Color Chart due to factors, including, but not limited to, the age of the existing slab, mix design, finishing techniques, concrete base colors, and surface permeability.

Before Acid Staining: Know Your Concrete

Prior to staining, a slab must meet the following criteria:

  • Older, excessively power-washed, or mechanically-profiled concrete may not react with acid stains
  • Concrete acid stain does not stain rocks, sand or aggregate
  • Exposed aggregate or otherwise depleted Portland cement may cause the acid stain to take irregularly, react weakly or produce a color inconsistent with the acid stain color chart
  • Concrete must be free of debris, dirt and oils, paint, dry wall mud, adhesive, sealers, stains of any kind or similar materials. Acid stain cannot react properly with the concrete if these things are present. These areas will likely not accept the stain, leaving color imperfections, particularly in the case of mastic, drywall mud, and paint
  • Newly poured concrete slabs and countertops should include less than 10% fly ash to insure a good chemical reaction with the acid stain. Check with your ready mix company or read the countertop mix Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for concrete additive information
  • Newly poured concrete can be acid stained 30 days after the pour
  • Concrete should not have been treated with a waterproofing agent, cleaned with muriatic acid or a heavy trisodium phosphate (TSP) solution. The acid stain reaction cannot occur on surfaces treated with these products

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Applying Concrete Acid Stain Tips

Safety First! Remember to use goggles, gloves and a dust mask while working with concrete acid stain.

  • After cleaning concrete, you do not have to wait for concrete to dry to start the acid stain application
  • Smooth interior floors such as basements should be etched with Hard Troweled Pre-Treatment before staining
  • The appearance of the finished product is very much influenced by the manner in which you apply the acid stain. We recommend spraying the stain on the surface using an all-plastic pump sprayer. For smaller spaces, you can use a plastic spray bottle
  • If you'd lile a darker, more even tone, brush the acid stain into the surface using consistent circular strokes
  • If using a brush, spray on a second coat to eliminate any brush strokes on the surface unless that is the desired finish
  • For a more diffuse look, spray the stain onto the surface without brushing
  • For a multi-tone effect with distinct areas of color, begin with your lightest color as a base coat
  • Base coats can either be a light acid stain color, such as Azure Blue, Malayan Buff, or one of the darker stains cut with water
  • Apply one heavy coat of your base color and immediately apply accent coats while the stain is still wet to encourage a more natural appearance on the slab
  • Continue to apply the lighter to darker colored accents until satisfied with the results
  • If walking on wet acid stain, wear acid resistant spiked shoes, golf shoes, or similar cleats to avoid leaving foot impressions on the floor

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To learn more about"Marbling Effect"technique using two or more acid stain colors click here

  • For a veined appearance, spray your secondary or “veining” color on the surface first.
  • While still wet, feather the primary color into and around the secondary color, allowing it to flow together at the edges.
  • Be careful not to cover your secondary color completely, especially if it is a lighter shade.

Concrete Acid Stain | Direct Colors (4)

For more details on"Veining Technique"click here

  • No two finished floors are exactly same, as acid staining is an artistic process.
  • Always complete small test patches on your surface or prepare sample boards to practice with the sprayer and determine which look you prefer.
  • Each of our acid stain colors can be cut with water to produce an array of different colors and shades. Keep in mind that if the water content is too high, the chemical reaction between the stain and the concrete will be significantly reduced and may not be strong enough to produce the desired color, especially on older slabs.
  • We do not recommend cutting our acid stains by more than 4 parts water to 1 part acid stain unless you are very experienced with this product.
  • Some colors vary more than others when increasing the water content and many factors determine how dark the final stain color will be, such as age of concrete, cement content, and weathering.
  • As the acid stain dries, a chalky residue will likely form on the surface of the concrete. This is a normal part of the staining process.
  • Each stain has different activation times to fully color the concrete, generally from four to eight hours. However, the stains can be left on for longer if you want a darker color.

For a complete list ofAcid Stain Color Activation Times click here

Summer Tip:Hot, dry conditions can cause acid stain to prematurely dry before properly reacting with the concrete. For best results, slightly dampen the surface before applying acid stain to outdoor concrete. Sealers should not be applied to concrete over 90 F. For outdoor projects, apply sealers either late in the evening or early in the morning when concrete temperatures are at their lowest.

NoticeCheck your stain’s activation time before beginning the job. Stains can be left on the surface for longer, but not less, than the activation time.

  • If you are working on a concrete countertop project or attempting to stain separate rooms the same color, use a timer to insure equivalent activation times for each countertop section or room.
  • Remember to spray a second coat of stain over the dried residue of the first coat to assure complete coverage.
  • Do not walk on wet residue.
  • If you must walk on the processing surface, use acid stain resistant spiked shoes to prevent marks or shoe impressions on the surface. You can use golf shoes, football cleats, or plastic bags over stocking feet.
  • We do not recommend Avocado, Azure Blue, Seagrass, or Shifting Sand concrete acid stain for outdoor use.

Keep in mind that all concrete surfaces are not alike. Although acid staining overlaid surfaces generally produces similar results to that of new concrete slabs, variation between products can occur. To assure the desired results, always prepare a small test area prior to beginning any acid stain project.

How Long Does Acid Stain Take To Dry?

Different stains require varying amounts of time to activate and fully color the concrete, generally from 2 – 8 hours. See ourAcid Stain Color Activation Times Chartfor details. Be sure to check the acid stain color activation time before starting a project to ensure full surface coloring. For the most color from a given stain, spray another coat over the dried residue.

Neutralizing Tips

Once the residue has dried and the stain has been given at least the recommended minimum time to react, the surface should be neutralized and all debris or excess stain removed in the following manner:

  • Prepare a solution using baking soda at a ratio of 1-2 tablespoons of soda per gallon of water.
  • Thoroughly spread the solution across the slab, scouring with a nylon scrub brush where needed to remove residue.
  • You can also use a wet/dry vacuum for indoor projects.
  • For applications including Penetrating Hardener/Sealer, consider repeating this step to be absolutely certain all concrete acid stain has been neutralized before cleaning.
  • Wash the surface carefully using clean water until nothing but clear water is visible.
  • All residue and excess color must be removed from the floor BEFORE leaving to dry.
  • For stubborn residue or porous surfaces, use a floor soap or organic degreaser to aid in the removal.
  • The clean, wet surface will be the approximate color of the final sealed surface.
  • Leave to dry.
  • After the surface has completely dried, the floor should be ready to seal.

Sealing Tips

After the surface has been neutralized, cleaned and has thoroughly dried, the acid stained floor must be sealed with an appropriate concrete sealer. See how-to guide specific to your sealer purchase.


DO NOT apply masking or duct-tape to a stained and sealed surface. The tape will adhere to the sealer and damage the acid stain finish.

Waxing Tips (Indoors Only)

  • After sealing, applying Concrete Floor Wax and Polish to your surface is a critical final step in maintaining interior decorative concrete.
  • Wax protects the finished surface but does not replace the need for sealer on your floor.
  • While sealer penetrates into the pores of your concrete and maintains your floor’s color, wax is a topical coat designed to serve as a barrier between daily wear and tear and your floor’s sealed surface.
  • If properly waxed and maintained, you’ll never need to seal again! Remember, floor polish is intended for interior applications only and should not be applied outdoors.
  • Allow for 48-72 hours dry time for floors sealed with solvent based sealers before applying Residential or Commercial Wax.
  • Before waxing thoroughly clean all dirt and debris from the surface using warm soapy water or water mixed with a light organic degreaser.
  • Do not use harsh chemicals such as xylene, lacquer thinner, adhesive remover or similar products. These chemicals will remove your sealer and ruin the finish on your decorative concrete.
  • First mop the floor with the cleaning solution then mop again using water only. Finally, leave the floor to dry making certain all residue has been removed from the floor.
  • After the surface has dried, apply either the residential or commercial wax with either a sponge mop with wringer attachment, floor coater or trim pad. Pour the floor polish into a paint tray and use the ridges to purge the applicator of excess polish before applying.
  • The thinner the coat, the stronger each layer of floor polish will be.
  • For the first application, apply 2-3 thin coats floor polish allowing each coat to dry completely before applying the next.
  • To limit the possibility of streaking, apply the first coat "east to west" (across the width of the room) and the second coat "north to south" (down the lenght of the romm from back to front).
  • Before allowing traffic on the floor, test the wax by applying pressure to the surface with your fingernail.
  • If the surface dents the wax will require more time to dry. Select commercial wax over residential wax if large dogs will routinely be on the floors.
  • Buffing in this instance would be optional.
  • Depending traffic, the floor should be waxed approximately every 3-8 months.
  • Before reapplying, walk the surface of the floor to determine if spot waxing will suffice.
  • Always clean the floor thoroughly before application.
  • Cold Temperature Warning: DO NOT apply water-based concrete sealers or floor waxes when surface temperatures are below 65°F (18°C)
  • Turn on the central heat and air and set it to 75°F (24°C)to raise the floor temperature before applying.
  • Lay a flat thermometer covered with a towel on the floor for 5-10 mins, or use an infrared thermometer to confirm floor temperature.
  • All heating sources and overhead fans must be turned off during application.
  • In-floor heating should be set at 60 to 65 (16 to 18°C)before and turned off during the application process.
  • Fans and heat can be turned on after application to aid with drying.
  • Do not allow wax to freeze.

Direct Colors Concrete Acid Stains are available in 10 standard colors.Use our Acid Stain Sample Trial Kit to test colors and our Design by Color photo gallery for color combination and technique ideas.

Disclaimer: Direct Colors does not warrant or guarantee results (outcomes). Concrete variations or improper application may cause unintended results. Test product on an inconspicuous or small area and allow to fully cure to ensure compatibility and desired result.

FAQ

Click/Tap each question to hide/show the answers.

I’ve just applied acid stain to my concrete and after it dried, it barely has any color. What happened?

This is one of the most common questions we receive, and we totally understand where you’re coming from! Not only have you put in the work to prepare for concrete stain, but you’ve also applied the acid stain, neutralized, and scrubbed the remaining residue. It looked great initially, but then you watched the color fade as the concrete dried. Not to worry; the color is still there, and you’ll see it return when you begin the sealing process.Concrete sealer causes the color to pop more intensely. Be mindful of a decision you'll need to make between solvent-based or water-based sealers. While both are great options, the difference is that solvent-based sealers will “pop” color much more intensely than water-based sealers. Water-based sealers will tend to soften in color as they cure.

Why didn’t EverStain™ work on my concrete?

This can sometimes happen. Please take a look at the FAQ "How does EverStain™ work?". It’s an important part of understanding why it maybe didn't go as planned. Most concrete ready-mix plants use varied mix designs while "batching" concrete. Many have adopted the use of fly ash as a replacement for a percentage of Portland cement. Fly ash will not react with acid stain, and since it's lighter than Portland when the surface is being finished or troweled, a higher percentage of the fly ash floats to the surface, diminishing the effects of EverStain™. This is not representative of the quality of acid stain but rather the proper quality of concrete for acid staining.If the fly ash dosage exceeds 10%, you may be having difficulty getting EverStain™ to work as intended. Consider aggressively sanding the surface to remove a micro-layer made of predominantly fly ash. This will help expose the richer mineral content and may potentially react more robustly with EverStain™.

How much surface preparation is required before applying EverStain™ Acid Stain?

Surface preparation is often the most critical factor in any successful decorative concrete project. The concrete surface MUST be free of cure and seal, sealer, paint, dirt, grime, and grease. Once the surface is nice and clean, make sure it has enough porosity for the stain to penetrate the surface. If the concrete is too smooth (slick) and the acid stain isn't able to penetrate, you'll get a diminished color return. Trust us - it's totally worth it to put in the extra time to set yourself up for a successful and long-lasting project!

I purchased the amount of product your concrete stain calculator recommended based on my square footage, and still needed more. What happened?

Depending on your concrete surface and chosen application methods, coverage rates can vary. We follow industry standards of approximately 200 square feet per gallon, which commonly applies to lower viscosity products like colorants and concrete sealers.First, it's always good to double-check your calculation of square footage. From there, a few variables come into play. How porous, weathered, or worn is your concrete? How heavily are you applying the product? On smoother, less porous concrete, you may find you're getting a bit more coverage than anticipated. For stamped, textured, or more weathered, porous concrete, you may get a bit less coverage. These variables aren't calculation errors, but more of a common indefinite. When in doubt, follow the general construction rule of rounding up for your supply needs.

What happens if you stain concrete before it cures?

Any stain applied to concrete before it has fully cured for at least 28 days is likely to experience unintended color effects.Think about it - acid stain is a water-based liquid containing reactive minerals. When it seeps into the pores of the concrete, a chemical reaction occurs between the acid stain and the available lime on the surface. If the concrete hasn’t fully cured, the concrete will evaporate more water into the stain while it reacts - so the color will either look watered down or not take hold at all!

Do I have to let my concrete surface dry after cleaning, prior to applying acid stain?

There's no need to let it dry, as concrete can be damp before applying stain. However, you should not have any puddles of water present before staining, as the water will dilute the acid stain.

I have a new concrete/new pavers. I want to change the gray to match some existing concrete/pavers I have nearby. Can I use EverStain™ Acid Stain for this project?

An acid stain trial kit is a great way to see if EverStain™ is right for your particular project.

Can you put acid stain over concrete sealer?

No, the acid stain needs to be in direct contact with concrete without any sealers to prevent a reaction.

Can I put tinted sealer over acid stain to darken the color?

Yes, tinted sealer provides a translucent color of your choice that allows the undertones and variations to show through while subtly influencing the color in your desired direction.

Do I wait for my first coat of acid stain to dry before applying the second coat/color?

It is not necessary to wait for the first coat to dry. However, if you are looking for a stark separation in color, particularly when using two colors, you might consider applying the second color after the initial color application has dried. Keep in mind as you plan your stain work, darker colors will override lighter colors.

Can I dilute the acid stain with water?

Yes, EverStain™ may be diluted with water to achieve a lighter shade in color. We don't recommend diluting our acid stain more than four-parts water to one-part stain without performing an initial dilution test.

How-To Guide

Printable EverStain™ How-To Guide

Step 1: Preparation

  • Cover areas at risk of over-spray with plastic drop cloth.
  • Newly poured concrete must cure for 30 days before application.
  • For existing concrete:
    • Remove paint or previously applied sealer using Soy Gel Stripper.
    • Remove carpet glue or other adhesives using Bean-e-doo® Mastic Remover.
    • Remove any oils, dirt, debris, Soy Gel Stripper, or Bean-e-doo® Mastic Remover using scrub brush and ProClean Degreaser™.
  • Verify absorption by pouring a cup of water in various areas. If not absorbed within five minutes, etch the surface with CitrusEtch™, then neutralize surface with ProClean Neutralizer™ and rinse thoroughly.
  • Allow the concrete to thoroughly dry before application.

Step 2: Application

Coverage rate is approximately 200 square feet per gallon (two coats). Coverage rates may vary based on concrete texture, surface porosity, and application method.

NOTE: Only apply EverStain™ when surface temperature is between 40 °F (4 °C) and 95 °F (35 °C) and wear Spiked Shoes to avoid leaving footprints before surface is neutralized.

Caution: Harmful if swallowed or ingested. Contact with skin can cause irritation. Avoid contact with eyes.

Spraying:

  • Remove all filters from pump-up sprayer before pouring EverStain™ into sprayer.
  • Wear spiked shoes before spraying EverStain™ or walking across surface until it’s neutralized.
  • Begin spraying at a far corner to maintain a clear path to exit.
  • Spray EverStain™ on surface in circular motions with irregular overlaps.
  • To develop deeper color, apply additional coats (maximum of two coats).
  • Allow 30 minutes between coats.
    • Apply additional coats following the same method.
  • Allow stain to react and develop color over 4-6 hours (richer colors may take more time).
  • Once desired color has developed, neutralize stain using ProClean Neutralizer™.
    • Spray a saturating coat of ProClean Neutralizer™ on surface and allow to sit for 15 minutes.
    • Use scrub brush to break up all remaining EverStain™ residue.
    • Immediately rinse surface with water until surface is clear of residue (repeat steps as needed).
  • Allow concrete to thoroughly dry for at least eight hours before applying a sealer.
  • As surface dries, color begins to look chalky or faded - this is normal. Color will “pop” once sealer is applied.

Step 3: Seal & Protect Finish

  • Apply two thin coats of sealer (AcquaSeal™ Water-Based Acrylic Sealer or EasySeal™ Solvent-Based Acrylic Sealer).
  • For interior only: Also apply two thin coats of ProWax Polish™.
  • For additional application instructions, see AcquaSeal™, EasySeal™, and ProWax Polish™ How-To Guides

Pro Tips:

  • Darker acid stain colors will override lighter colors. If lighter colors are applied first, follow up with darker colors. If darker colors are applied first, leave bare spots to fill in with lighter colors.
  • EverStain™ reacts with minerals found in Portland Cement. Areas with more minerals will develop more color than areas with fewer minerals. EverStain™ will not stain rock or sand.
  • If new concrete is being poured, it must have less than 10% Fly Ash for EverStain™ to work properly.
  • To avoid droplets dripping onto surface: before releasing sprayer trigger, immediately place tip in a bucket

Cleanup:

  • Neutralize tools and supplies with ProClean Neutralizer™.
  • Then, wash tools and supplies with ProClean Degreaser™ and warm water.

Maintenance:

  • For exterior: Protect finish every two years or as needed with either AcquaSeal™ Water-Based Acrylic Sealer or EasySeal™ Solvent-Based Acrylic Sealer.
  • For interior: Protect finish every two years with ProWax Polish™ or spot treat high-traffic areas as needed.
  • For additional application instructions, see AcquaSeal™, EasySeal™, and ProWax Polish™ How-To Guides.

Tools & Supplies:

  • Pump-up sprayer
  • Plastic drop cloth
  • Scrub brush
  • Spiked shoes

Disclaimer: Direct Colors does not warranty or guarantee results (outcomes). Concrete variations or improper application may cause unintended results. Test product on an inconspicuous or small area and allow to fully cure to ensure compatibility and desired result.

How-To Videos

Data Sheets

Printable EverStain™ - Avocado SDS

Printable EverStain™ - Azure Blue SDS

Printable EverStain™ - Black SDS

Printable EverStain™ - Coffee Brown SDS

Printable EverStain™ - Cola SDS

Printable EverStain™ - Desert Amber SDS

Printable EverStain™ - English Red SDS

Printable EverStain™ - Malayan Buff SDS

Printable EverStain™ - Seagrass SDS

Printable EverStain™ - Shifting Sand SDS

Color Chart

Download EverStain™ Color Chart

Important: EverStain is a reactive acid stain so shades depicted in “Color Chart” will vary from project to project depending on the composition of concrete surface.

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