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Step-by-Step Guide to Preparing Concrete for Staining

Step-by-Step Guide to Preparing Concrete for Staining

Staining concrete is a popular technique that is used in a variety of contexts to add color and depth to concrete surfaces. From residential to commercial applications, staining concrete can be used for aesthetic appeal, durability, and customization. Concrete staining is a versatile and practical option to enhance a project, though it is important to understand the process of how to prepare concrete for staining. The process of staining concrete is typically done once the concrete has been cured and hardened, which can take days or weeks, depending on the size and complexity of the project. Concrete staining is often used in situations where the appearance of a concrete surface is important to the overall design or where low maintenance and durability are desired.

What Is Concrete Staining For?

Concrete staining is considered a decorative technique whereby adding color and visual interest to a concrete surface enhances the overall presentation. Here are some of the many reasons why staining concrete is done in residential, commercial, industrial, and public settings:

Aesthetic appeal 

Staining concrete can add visual interest to plain concrete surfaces. Adding color to concrete can create a more attractive appearance, and a variety of colors and designs can be used. Concrete staining can also mimic the look of natural materials like stone, marble, or even wood.


Stained concrete offers a highly durable option for high-traffic areas where you may expect heavy foot traffic or weathering. Driveways, patios, and sidewalks can all benefit from concrete staining to create a more durable and long-lasting product.

Low maintenance

Stained concrete also requires minimal maintenance and can be easily cleaned. The color of stained concrete is also far less likely to wear off or fade compared to painted or coated surfaces.


Staining concrete is also a cost-effective way to add color and visual interest to a concrete surface, especially when compared to other decorative options. Stamping or engraving concrete typically takes more time and resources, which can cut into the bottom line of a project.

Environmentally friendly

Concrete staining can be a more environmentally friendly option because it does not require the use of additional materials or chemicals to create a visually interesting and durable design.  

How to Prepare Concrete Staining: A Step-by-Step Guide

Preparing a concrete surface before staining is essential for ensuring the stain adheres properly and results in a uniform finish or desired design outcome. Here’s a step-by-step guide to preparing concrete for staining on your next project.

Find the Right Concrete Cleaning Product

The concrete surface must be thoroughly cleaned before the staining process can begin. Clean the surface to remove any dirt, debris, or other contaminants that may have built up on the structure. A stiff-bristle brush or pressure washer can be used to clean the surface. Tougher stains may require cleaning products like a mild detergent solution or a more powerful cleaning agent. Concrete degreasers and acid-based cleaners are highly effective at removing oil from concrete, grease, and other stains that may interfere with the staining process. Cleaning solutions can also neutralize the surface and open up the concrete pores to prepare it for staining.

Read Concrete Chemical Stripper Instructions (If Using to Clean Concrete)

If a concrete surface has been sealed or coated previously, this must be removed before the staining can begin. Always read the instructions on any chemical stripping instructions before cleaning concrete. Cleaning concrete with a chemical stripper can be harsh and must be used with caution. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid harming the product or yourself when preparing concrete for staining.

Clean & Degrease the Concrete Surface

It is important to ensure the concrete surface is free from any contaminants before the concrete staining process can begin. Clean and degrease the concrete surface to effectively remove oil, grease, dirt, grime, and other buildup on the concrete. Only use products that are specifically designed for cleaning and degreasing concrete to ensure an effective process. You may also need to repair any cracks or damage as needed.

When Cleaning Concrete Surface Fails, Try Grinding

Grinding is another method used to clean and prepare a concrete surface for staining and other applications. Grinding involves a specialized tool, like a diamond grinder or shot blaster, to remove the top layer of a concrete surface. This reveals a fresh layer of concrete underneath, which effectively removes surface contaminants, rough spots, or any old coatings that could interfere with the staining process.

Now You’re Ready to Stain Concrete!

Once you properly clean, patch, and prepare your concrete surface, you are ready to start staining!

Looking for Concrete Forming Equipment?

Forming America offers a variety of concrete forming equipment necessary for your next project. Before you get started on staining concrete, you want to ensure you have utilized the best concrete formwork equipment for a better outcome. Concrete formwork is an essential piece of equipment for concrete forming, and Forming America has a variety of options to choose from. Browse our bracing and shoring equipment, along with concrete finishing tools, to smooth and level the surface as you prepare for concrete staining.

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