Why Concrete-Staining Should Be Left To a Professional
by Gary Damm, owner of Amazing Improvements in Marietta
“Acid staining” has become quite an expanse of methodology. Where once Frank Lloyd Wright used acid stains on freshly laid concrete in his masterpiece “Falling Waters,” which changed the concrete from whitish gray into a red hue… , this will not work where the concrete is particulary old or where the surface may have been cleaned with acids at some point during its lifespan.
This is where alternative methodology arose. In the decorative-concrete realm, dyes and acrylic stains of various strains have been developed to meet these challenges. One of the biggest challenges of non-reactive acid-staining comes from the fact these are transparent materials. Any shift from an absolutely white surface will telegraph thru the stain. For example, we were applying a “chicory” brown (non-reactive stain) to a pool deck this month, and the slab was slightly discolored from age. Even with deep-cleaning, some discoloration remained. Adding “chicory” transparent stain to this deck resulted in a “burgundy” tone. NOT what the client expected. We were able to strip it and move to an alternative coating which actually turned out better for all involved.
This same issue occurs when dyes are applied. Why then would we not use the traditional stain materials? Because of the age and unknown properties of this slab. The older the material and the more weathered, the less it will react with the traditional stain chemicals. Another challenge comes from fillers in the concrete which are not visible. Materials such as fly ash are non-reactive in nature. If traditional stains are applied to a surface containing fly ash, the surface will react everywhere BUT where the fly ash has risen to the surface. Think about a beautiful dark-brown floor with bright-white patches scattered about. NOT pretty, yet a professional can blend dyes to hide or soften these areas. It’s never as easy as the videos or websites want you to believe. Unless the concrete is new and clean, acid-staining should be left to a pro. Even then, the floor prep remains a critical aspect of a successful project. There are a slew of new “acid stain” companies out there. Only a very few understand how to achieve proper results and know when one method is better than another. And the results are… amazing.
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