How to: Acid Staining Garage Floors
Increasingly our customers want to update and remodel their garages for shops, extra living space or just make a nice place to park their cars. Acid staining garage floors present a few special challenges that with proper surface preparation and sealer selection can be easily overcome.
Step 1: How will the space be used? Garage remodels intended for living space should be treated differently from staining and sealing garage floors where cars or other vehicles will be parked. Sealers should be chosen to reflect the floor’s use especially if hot tires, chemicals or exposure to weather is a factor.
Step 2: Is the floor too smooth to acid stain? Garage and basement floors are usually the smoothest floors in the house. Test the floor for absorptive capacity by pouring water on the concrete and observing how quickly the water soaks in. If it beads on surface and doesn’t readily absorb, the concrete will need to be sanded or chemically profiled using DCI Hard Trowel Floor Prep before staining. Pre-treatment will enhance the acid stain reaction and aid rich color development.
Step 3: Cleaning Oil or Grease Stains Unfortunately all oil and grease stains have to go to avoid future staining and sealer adherence issues. One quick clean up trick is to pile Oil Dri in a mound over the stain and pour a solvent such as odorless mineral spirits or xylene over the mound. Allow to dry and sweep away. Repeat if needed. Clean the area with a solution of concrete degreaser and water. Rinse and allow to dry. Pour water on the area and if no beading or rainbow sheen appear, the surface should take the stain and seal properly. For the complete details on removing oil from concrete, listen to our podcast.
Step 4: Testing to Be Sure Because garage floors are more likely to have chemical spills or other contaminants, we strongly recommend testing the acid stain in an inconspicuous area prior to beginning the project. Floors cleaned with a muriatic acid solution cannot be successfully stained and when the concrete history isn’t known beforehand, testing is crucial. Direct Colors offers individual acid stain samples and sample kits for testing.
Step 5: Selecting the Right Sealer for the Use Not all sealers are created equal and should be carefully considered before buying. Our Sprayable Satin Finish Sealer is perfect for garages used for cars and other vehicles. The sealer is easy to apply, repair should damage occur and will not create a slip hazard when wet. If the garage has been converted into living space and the floor will not be exposed to the elements, glossier sealers can be used. Do not apply concrete wax to garage floors where cars will be parked.
Step 6: Garage Floor Limitations Garage floor slabs poured before 2000 often do not include a moisture barrier. Conduct a moisture test by firmly adhering a 1 x 1 piece of plastic to the raw concrete floor using strong tape for 48 hours. If condensate appears on the underside of the plastic, select a breathable sealer for the floor. If the condensate is heavy, choose a penetrating water-based sealer and avoid using concrete floor wax. DCI 550 Water Based Polyurethane Sealer is an excellent breathable no-wax required sealer for low to medium traffic floors. Again, this coating would not be suitable for floors still used for car or large vehicle parking. If using a solvent based sealer, remember ventilation to the outside is critical and consider wearing a respirator during application if ventilation is poor.
Acid Stain Color Chart
Taking these special circumstances in mind, acid staining garage floors would be the same as any other room in the house. Direct Colors offers 10 acid stain colors and all can be used on a garage floor. Select the sealer gloss level that is both aesthetically pleasing and appropriate for the floor use.
Need a few design ideas to get started? Visit our customer photo galleries to see all of our products in action!