How to Prep + Clean Concrete for Staining

Before applying the stain, you need to prepare the concrete. This is a two-step process that consists of cleaning and then etching the surface.

How to Prep + Clean Concrete for Staining

1. Start by Cleaning the Concrete

If the concrete is dirty, the stain simply won’t stick. It will just sit on the dirt and get washed away during the next hard rain. Cleaning isn’t difficult. The manufac- turer of the stain we used says you can simply scrub the concrete with soapy water and a stiff-bristled brush. But I recommend using a pressure washer, especially on old or rough-surfaced concrete (Top photo). Though our concrete didn’t look particularly dirty, we were amazed by how much dirt the pressure washer flushed out. If you don’t have a pressure washer, you can rent one for a few hours very economically. I recommend choosing a gas-powered washer because they produce higher pressure than most of the electric models.

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2. Etch For Success

Once the concrete is clean, you need to etch the surface. The etching solution (included in the staining kit) gently abrades the surface of the concrete. This makes it more porous, so the stain can soak in. To etch the concrete, use a watering can to drizzle the solution onto a few square feet at a time. Let it sit for a couple of minutes, and then scrub it in using a stiff brush (Second photo). After scrubbing an area, rinse it with water to neutralize the solution (Third photo). Then let the concrete dry (which usually takes 18 to 24 hours).

Etch for Adhesion. After cleaning the concrete, wipe away any standing water, and then apply etching solution. Use a stiff brush to scrub it into the surface.

Neutral Ground. Rinse with water to neutralize the etching solution. Also rinse nearby grass and plants.