Stained concrete can be applied over new or existing concrete. It can be used on interior or exterior concrete. Staining imparts a luxurious richness that can't be achieved by any other color medium. Rather than produce a solid, opaque effect like paint, stains permeate the concrete to infuse it with luminous, translucent tones that vary depending on the surface they are applied to and the application techniques used. The results can mimic everything from polished marble to tanned leather or even stained wood. This can be achieved with acid, dyed, or water based stains.
Stained concrete appeals to many people who want to achieve unique decorative effects for a reasonable cost. You can use stains to create an infinite array of colors and special effects on both interior and exterior surfaces. Concrete stain does more than simply add color. Rather than produce a solid, opaque effect like paint or colored coatings, stains permeate the concrete to infuse it with rich, deep, translucent tones. Some stain manufacturers use adjectives such as "antiqued," "variegated," or "mottled" to describe the distinctive look. Even when treated with the same staining product in the same shade, no two concrete floors, walls, or countertops will look alike due to factors such as the composition and age of the concrete and surface porosity.
Because stains penetrate into the concrete surface, their color is durable and long- lasting. When applied to properly prepared concrete, the color will not fade, chip, or peel away.
Acid-based concrete stains are made up of inorganic metallic salts dissolved in an acid and water solution. They penetrate into the surface and react chemically with the concrete to form a permanent bond. The color they impart is translucent rather than opaque, resulting in deep, rich tones and attractive marbling effects.
Non-reactive water-based stains and dyes (typically a blend of acrylic polymers and pigments) fill the pores of the concrete surface to produce a colored film or coating, ranging from translucent to opaque depending on the product. The key difference is that no chemical reaction takes place, so the color is more consistent. Most of these products are also low in VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and safer to apply because they are free of solvents and acids.
Both acid and water-based stains can be applied to new or old and plain or integrally colored concrete. They can also be used both indoors and out, on everything from concrete floors and kitchen countertops to pool decks and driveways. The most important consideration is the condition of the surface. If the concrete is covered by grime, glues, coatings, curing membranes, or sealers that inhibit the stain from soaking in, the stain won't be able to penetrate and achieve full color development.
Your color options will vary depending on whether you are using an acid or water- based stain. With acid stains, your color choices will be limited. Most manufacturers offer only eight hues, mostly subtle earth tones, such as tans, browns, terra cottas, and soft blue-greens. Although the basic color palette is sparse, you can mix two or more stain colors before application to achieve a different shade or apply one color over another. You can also produce deeper color effects with a stain by applying two coats.
If you want to go beyond the subtle drama and subdued color palette of acid staining,
water-based acrylic stains will give you a wider spectrum of hues to choose from. Most manufacturers offer dozens of standard colors, including black and white and even metallic tints. And in many cases, the different colors can be mixed, like water-based paints, to broaden your options.
Color choice is often dictated by personal preference or by a desire to match or complement an existing color scheme, such as staining a concrete floor to mirror the same tones in a wood-paneled wall. Because stain color is permanent, many homeowners opt for neutral tones, such as light tans, browns, grays and greens. Regardless of what stain colors you choose, be aware of the following caveats:
• With acid-based stains, wide color variations are normal. Surfaces will have a mottled,
and these variations will be emphasized when the final coat of sealer is applied.
• With some acid stain colors, what you see in liquid form may not be what you get once the stain has reacted with
the concrete surface. The stain may not reveal its true color until it has been allowed to remain on the concrete
for several hours or longer. Always apply the stain to a small test area before covering the entire surface.
• Color effects will generally be more intense on new concrete than on older or weathered
Most stain manufacturers will provide color charts or even actual samples of stained concrete to help you visualize the options. Contractors may also be able to provide samples of the various stain colors they work with.
Although concrete stain is permanent and won't flake off like paint, it penetrates only the top layer of the concrete surface and will eventually wear away as the surface is worn by traffic or weather exposure. To prolong stain life, you should protect exterior stained concrete surfaces with a clear sealer and interior floors with a good floor wax. To keep your stained concrete looking its best, you will also need to clean it periodically by dry dust mopping and occasional wet mopping with a neutral-pH cleaner.
Retail shops, hotels, offices,residential and commercial floors, walls, foam, shapes, drives, walks, pool decks, and patios
Polished concrete is the ultimate no-wax flooring material. With the proper floor grinding equipment and experience, concrete polishing contractors can grind concrete surfaces, whether new or old, to a high-gloss finish. Factor in the superior durability and performance of concrete, and it's no wonder why retail, commercial warehouse and office facilities, and even homeowners are catching on to the appeal of these smooth, high-luster floors.
A polished concrete floor has a glossy, mirror-like finish. The design options for polished concrete are vast. You can choose nearly any color, create patterns with saw cuts, or embed aggregates or interesting objects into the concrete prior to polishing. The reflectivity of the floor can also be controlled by using different levels of concrete polishing.
Polished concrete is popular in commercial buildings because it is easy to maintain. Maintaining polished floors requires dust mopping and occasional use of a cleaning product. Simply put, polishing concrete is similar to sanding wood. Heavy-duty polishing machines equipped with progressively finer grits of diamond-impregnated segments or disks (akin to sandpaper) are used to gradually grind down surfaces to the desired degree of shine and smoothness.
For new floors, no special mix design is required to achieve good results. However, the floor should be in place at least 28 days before polishing begins to ensure adequate curing. Some retail and warehouse facilities that plan to polish their floors after placement may specify the installation of as smooth a floor as possible to minimize the polishing steps required.
For existing floors, polishing enhances their appearance by grinding the concrete down to a smooth, high -gloss finish. Minor cracking and imperfections add to the character of the finished floor. Typically some surface preparation is required prior to polishing to remove dirt, grease, coatings, or blemishes. However, floors that are wavy, need extensive patching, or are extremely porous may not be good candidates for polishing. An experienced contractor can usually determine a floor's suit ability.
Although polished concrete floors are extremely durable, they still need to be properly cleaned and maintained. This is especially true if they are located in high-traffic commercial or retail facilities. While polished concrete floors are not maintenance- free, they generally are easier to care for than other types of decorative concrete floors, since they require no waxing or sealing for existing floors, polishing enhances their appearance by grinding the concrete down to a smooth, high-gloss finish. Minor cracking and imperfections add to the character of the finished floor.
Typically some surface preparation is required prior to polishing to remove dirt, grease, coatings, or blemishes. However, floors that are wavy, need extensive patching, or are extremely porous may not be good candidates for polishing. An experienced contractor can usually determine a floor's suitability.
Routine maintenance for polished floors consists of daily dust mopping to remove dirt and grime accumulation that can abrade the surface of polished concrete. Frequent wet mopping with clean water is also needed. You'll have even greater success using a floor cleaner, like this concentrated polished concrete cleaner from SASE, to suspend the dirt particles so they can be more easily removed.