Acid Stains and Penetrating Dyes

example of acid stain for concreteAcid-Based Stains

Most acid stains for concrete are a mixture of water, hydrochloric acid, and acid-soluble metallic salts. They work by penetrating the surface and reacting chemically with the hydrated lime (calcium hydroxide) in the concrete. The acid in the stain lightly etches the surface, allowing the metallic salts to penetrate more easily. Once the stain reacts, it becomes a permanent part of the concrete and won’t fade, chip off, or peel away.

Like stains for wood, acid-based stains are translucent, and the color they produce will vary depending on the color and condition of the substrate they are applied to. Each concrete slab will accept the stain in varying degrees of intensity, creating natural color variations that bring character and distinction to each project. What acid stains don’t offer is a broad color selection. You’ll mostly find them in a limited array of subtle earth tones, such as tans, browns, terra cottas, and soft blue-greens.

Water- and Solvent-Based Dyes

Concrete dyes can further enhance your concrete staining projects and open up a whole new set of design and color options.

Dyes can be used as a stand-alone color application, as a base coat prior to acid staining, or to enhance stained surfaces in areas where the stain is not taking and the color needs to be intensified. Unlike acid stains, dyes are not chemically reactive with concrete; instead, they contain very fine color particles that penetrate the concrete surface.

Dye is very predictable because it does not depend on a chemical reaction. However, the applicator can still achieve a mottled look, if desired. Dyes come in a vast array of colors that aren’t available with staining. The colors can easily be mixed at the jobsite or diluted to obtain other shades.

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