The decorative concrete market exploded in recent years when contractors started using acid-based concrete stains to achieve rich earthy colors that resembled natural stone, wood, and marble. Today, water and solvent-based dyes have expanded the range of colors beyond earth tones. These concrete stains offer a virtual artist’s palette of stain colors ranging from vivid reds, purples, oranges, and yellows to soft pastels. So how do you (or your contractor) choose between acid or water-based concrete stains?
Acid stains work by generating a chemical reaction and causing the concrete to change color. Acid stain can be used inside and outside and is preferable for projects that call for rich natural color variation, deep earth tones, and permanent color. One of the primary benefits of acid stains is that they are permanent and won’t fade, chip or peel off. Because they are translucent, they produce unique looks in each application based on the condition of the original concrete that’s being stained.
Water-based concrete stains are a non-reactive option for decorative concrete projects. Like acid stains, they can be used indoors and out and are UV stable, but unlike acid stains, they are available in a full spectrum of colors. Water-based stains are generally chosen for projects that call for colors not available with acid stains, or when a contractor wants to use creative effects or blending and layering of colors. Water-based stains are safe and easy to apply and impart a more consistent color.
Acid stains are a more durable choice for exterior concrete projects; however, water-based stains will hold up if they are resealed frequently. Whether using acid or water-based, concrete staining is a quick and relatively affordable way to make an impactful concrete transformation.
When checking reviews of concrete stains, some things contractors look for are:
- Ease of application
- Evenness of drying
- Richness and depth of color
- Works equally well on old or new concrete installations
- Long-lasting, fade-resistant color