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How to create a marble effect on concrete flooring is the most common inquiry that our design team receives. Here at Direct Colors, you can find every product and step-by-step, How-To guide necessary to enhance your home or office concrete with a stunning marble look. Choose from over 100 colors to mix, match and customize to any existing decor. Read on for frequently asked questions and inspirational content about marble stained concrete.
Other than having a true marble slab, the most natural-looking and durable marble-like option is to use concrete Acid Stain. Unlike paint, concrete stains penetrate deeply into the concrete surface, producing fade-resistant, permanent color that won’t flake off or peel away. Whether you want a smooth or textured finish, staining concrete to look like marble gives you the appearance of expensive marble without the added cost of caring and maintaining actual marble surfaces.
The cost of acid-stained interior flooring begins at $0.43 per square foot, significantly less than marble or common decorative flooring options, but can rise as high as $10.00 per square foot with highly intricate design work. Unlike wood, tile and carpet, which require professional installation, homeowners can manage costs by acid-staining concrete flooring themselves! Use Direct Colors Cost Calculator to estimate your project cost.
As concrete acid stain penetrates beyond the surface of your concrete, the color and look of acid stain will last as long as the seal is properly applied. If sealing instructions are followed carefully, the color of your concrete will never fade, chip or peel.
Whether you are inspired to replicate the natural color of marble, or matching concrete color with your existing home decor, it is essential to test your intended slab before committing to a fully-scaled project. Concrete stains are highly versatile but depend upon consistent surface conditions to fully mimic the look of natural marble. It is a good idea to use an Acid Stain Sample Kit to test different techniques and colors in order to achieve the exact look and finish you have in mind. Remember to follow all steps for surface preparation prior to testing.
The “veining” and “marbling” effects achieved through acid staining are easier to create and more pronounced on clean, smooth concrete. Surface preparation is the most important step in any acid staining project. Dilute Concrete Cleaner & Degreaser with water to a medium concentration and scrub the surface with a soft nylon bristle brush (or power wash using a low setting). Thoroughly rinse the surface with clear water to remove any remaining cleanser. Use a shop vacuum, mop and/or squeegee to contain the water and aid in drying.
Sometimes a simple scrub is all you need to reveal a fresh canvas, however, fully removing surface adhesives can be more problematic. That’s why we rely on Mastic Remover for a clean removal of any lingering industrial glues. Similarly, if you are working with excessively smooth concrete, such as a garage floor, we recommend Hard Troweled Floor Pre-Treatment to enhance concrete porosity and penetration of the acid stain. In extreme circumstances, when concrete that does not otherwise respond to basic surface preparation, a quick Concrete Overlay will provide you with a ready-to-stain layer of concrete.
The process of acid staining will always yield 100% unique coloring and variation that is greatly influenced by how the stain is distributed. Applying your acid stain with a pump-up applicator is the most popular option, although mixing and pouring it from a bucket is also a popular and effective approach. Combining various techniques allows users more control and creativity. As in the case of a “washed” surface look, pooling in various areas allows the strength of the stain to be intentionally enhanced or diluted, resulting in a water-swept look.
In the image below, the pitch of the concrete was used to create beautiful, natural looking veining areas on the patio. Water was introduced using a spray bottle to “spray out” the acid stain after application, giving it a more interesting shape across the concrete.
When choosing a sealer, the most important consideration is whether or not the concrete will present a slip hazard when wet. Interior surfaces that do not see heavy foot traffic may be sealed with our Water Based Acrylic Sealer in either a “High Gloss” or “Satin Finish.” All outdoor concrete will eventually get wet and should therefore be sealed with a “Satin Finish” Solvent Based Acrylic Sealer, which is not as slippery when wet. If a high-gloss finish is essential to your intended look, consider using Non-Slip Additive in the second coat to prevent dangerous surface conditions in the presence of water.
“I recently stained the concrete on my back porch, which had been covered in green outdoor carpet for about 30 years. After much elbow grease and with the assistance of your Mastic Remover product, I was able to apply your Desert Amber, Cola, English Red, and Sea Grass concrete acid stains. Good floor prep can’t be emphasized enough. We had old astroturf glued to the concrete. After several passes with a scraper, Mastic Remover, and the use of a floor sander, the concrete was ready for stain. This process was definitely more work and took twice as long, but would not have yielded our final result had it been skipped or abbreviated. A manageable sized section at a time was worked, blending the next section in as the work progressed. All 4 colors were in their own sprayer and used concurrently. First the concrete was dampened with water. Then Desert Amber was used as a base color. On top of that, Cola and English Red were applied making sure to duplicate the graining pattern like that in marble and always blending with the next section to continue the look. Sea Grass was added as a highlighter to the pattern. Leaving areas with the Desert Amber exposed is important to the look.
A manageable sized section at a time was worked, blending the next section in as the work progressed. All 4 colors were in their own sprayer and used concurrently. First the concrete was dampened with water. Then Desert Amber was used as a base color. On top of that, Cola and English Red were applied making sure to duplicate the graining pattern like that in marble and always blending with the next section to continue the look. Sea Grass was added as a highlighter to the pattern. Leaving areas with the Desert Amber exposed is important to the look.
A good amount of all the colors were used, thoroughly saturating the concrete with the stain. This ensures you get enough color down, and helps the colors flow better. It’s not important to have an exact idea of how the whole project will look in the end, but you should have a general idea of how the graining pattern should flow.
It’s difficult to imagine the final version anyway, because the actual color of the stain is one color going on and turns to the final color later. On this project, the porch was installed when the house was built and has a slight drain angle away from the foundation. This was used to help determine which way the graining stripes should go and the overall pattern. You can run water on the concrete and watch the flow pattern to decide how to use that to your advantage. If you do this immediately before staining, you may have to squeegee off the excess water. The final look is a sheer stain color as opposed to a painted look. Any imperfections or major stains on the concrete might show through. These things can be worked into the overall design, if needed.
I live in North Texas and did this in the early summer. Justin was such a great help in telling me the best time of day to apply the stain, neutralizer, and sealer. He also provided valuable information such as how long to leave the stain on before neutralizing and scrubbing off the excess. I stored the unused stain in the original container. One of the sprayers was rinsed out and used for the sealer. Then that sprayer was discarded upon completion of sealer application. I purchased the spike shoe covers as well.
Even though one section at a time was done, I still found myself having to step on a few spots where the stain was already applied. This was done to position myself to continue the pattern, making sure to walk on the applied stain as little as possible, or wear acid stain resistant shoes.
I was going for a marble-granite look, and got it. Many thanks to the several conversations with your technician, Frank. I wanted you to see the results.”