How-To: Acid Staining Concrete Countertops
Acid staining concrete countertops offers a one-of-a-kind finish unique to this process. Because countertops are generally smaller projects, acid stain may represent one of several color techniques used to create beautiful kitchen, bathroom, table and outdoor countertops.
Step 1: Selecting the Correct Countertop Mix is more challenging than it used to be. If you’re planning to acid stain a countertop, choose a countertop mix with less than 10% fly ash. Fly ash affects reactivity and color development when acid staining and causes color variability in integrally colored countertops. Direct Colors Concrete Countertop Mix contains no fly ash and producing optimal acid staining results.
Step 2: Not all Form Release is Created Equal. DCI Countertop Form Release is colorless and leaves no trace of residue on the countertop surface. Other release agents like oils or solvents will leave a film on the surface that makes acid staining impossible. Don’t use them. Remove the countertop from the forms and clean the surface thoroughly with a solution of organic degreaser and water. Rinse and allow to dry.
Step 3: Too Smooth to stain? Pre-cast countertops are often poured on melamine and can be too smooth to successfully acid stain. Sand the surface with a 200-grit sanding pad to open the pores prior to staining. Once clean and dry, apply either Acid Stain or Deco Gel Acid Stain to the surface and allow for the appropriate activation time.
Apply acid stain using a pump-up sprayer or foam brush and the deco gel with a foam brush, artist brush or plastic trowel. If a darker color is desired, leave the stain on longer than the minimum recommended processing time. When the color has been achieved, neutralize with a baking soda and water solution, clean well and leave to dry.
Step 4: Polishing or not Polishing? If you’re polishing your countertop,apply the Penetrating Lithium Hardener/Sealer and allow to dry for 24 hours. Continue polishing with a 400-grit pad and beyond until the desired finish is acheived. For maximum protection and durability, polish the concrete to at least the 1500-3000 grit level. If not, seal the surface with one of our high quality polyurethane, polyurea or epoxy countertop sealers.
Concrete Countertop Tips:
If you’re pouring a countertop, frame one or two 1 ft. x 1ft. pieces for color and to practice your technique. Sample sizes are available for acid stain, deco gel and penetrating lithium hardener sealer for smaller projects and testing purposes. Visit our concrete countertop supplies page for our entire product line.
If you’re pouring multiple countertop pieces for installation in the same room, use a timer so the acid stain or deco gel processes on each piece for the same length of time. Extra time on the concrete generally results in a darker color.