Staining concrete can be a great alternative to rugs or tile, and it can help bring old concrete back to life. But with so many available options, choosing the right concrete stain these days can be quite a challenge.
There are so many brands available, and each one makes big promises. There are also different types like acid stain and penetrating stain that make choosing a concrete stain difficult.
We have reviewed dozens of each type of stain and would like to help you by reviewing nine different brands and telling you everything we like and don’t like about each one. Doing so can help you decide what you want out of a concrete sealer and what you want to avoid.
We’ve also included a concrete stain buyer’s guide where we explain how the different stains work and what you should look for when shopping. The reader’s guide will help you know why you want an acid stain or a film-forming stain.
Keep scrolling for our in-depth reviews of each concrete stain, where we compare stain base, color, coverage, and safety, to help you make an educated purchase.
|800 sq. ft.||4.95/5|
|500 sq. ft.||4.70/5|
|EnduraCoat Acid Stain|
|250 sq. ft.||4.65/5|
|Concrete Coatings Acid Stain||500 sq. ft.||4.30/5|
|INSL-X||550 sq. ft.||415/5|
The Kemiko Stone Tone Concrete Stain is our pick for the best overall concrete stain. Kemiko Stone Tone is an acid-based stain that produces very little harmful VOCs. It’s easy to apply, and it penetrates down into the concrete to provide rich deep color. You can use it as it is or dilute it to a 1:1 ratio for more coverage and lighter color.
The only downside that we noticed was that this stain had a little trouble with old-style concrete.
The Concrete Resurrection CR-900-8oz Cement Stain is our choice for the best value, and we believe you will agree it is the best concrete stain for the money. This low-cost stain comes in 8-ounce eco-friendly bottles that are diluted to create up to 72 ounces of concrete stain. They feature a large assortment of colors, and the colors come out vibrant after sitting for a while.
The downside is that even though we felt the stain penetrated the concrete well and didn’t require many coats, the small bottle size prevented us from doing any bigger jobs with it. The need to mix the stain yourself can lead to inconsistencies if you use this stain many times.
The EnduraCoat DIYKITSB250BW Acid Stain DIY Kit is our premium choice for the professional minded DIYer that isn’t afraid to spend a few dollars to get a top-quality product. This product is a complete staining system. It features a cleaner, degreaser, and a neutralizer to help prepare your concrete to accept the stain. The stain itself comes in several colors and is easy to apply and results in a high-quality marble finish. Once staining is complete, this kit also provides you with the sealer to protect your stain from the environment.
The downside to the EnduraCoat kit is that it’s costly because it’s a lot of product. If you stain concrete often, you likely have much of this already, and if your staining new concrete, you probably don’t require concentrated cleaners or degreasers.
The Concrete Coatings CS-1000 VIVID Acid Stain is a high-quality acid stain capable of staining 250-500-square feet, depending on how many coats you use. It comes in several colors that work well on their own or together to create a nice marble finish.
While we reviewed it, we felt that it was a little too thin and required a few coats to get a good stain. It would not stick to old stain and has a prolonged drying time.
The INSL-X CST211009A-01 TuffCrete Concrete Stain is an indoor/outdoor water-based stain. This stain covers well, and you only really need two coats if you want a thicker solid color. It dries quickly, and you can apply a sealer as little as four hours after staining.
This stain is only excellent for some rooms, though. It’s not very resistant to high temperatures, and it has no protection from ultraviolet light or mildew, so it’s not the best for exposed outdoor surfaces or damp basements without additional treatments. You also need to be careful when using it outdoors because you can’t apply it in direct sunlight.
The BrandBold Brilliance Concrete Acid Stain is an easy to use acid stain that comes in more than a dozen colors. It’s resistant to fading from ultraviolet light and produces a permanently non-yellowing color. VOCs minimal with this stain.
In our experience with it, the acid wasn’t strong enough to penetrate deeply into the concrete resulting in a light color that as often several shades away from the color we had purchased. Some of the darker colors looked more like mildew had set in than stained concrete.
The BonWay 32-805 Water Based Concrete Stain is a concentrated water-based stain for indoor and outdoor use. This stain dries fast, and you can use a sealer a few hours after applying the stain.
We found that BonWay stain goes a very long way and doesn’t smell bad. You can get a good color, but you purchase the stain in concentrated form and need to dilute it yourself. Some people may prefer using a concentrated stain, but for us, it introduces the possibility of inconsistent batches. BonWay recommends that you dilute the stain with distilled, deionized or reverse osmosis water, which you will need to purchase separately. Also, if you want a deep dark color with this stain, you will need to apply several coats.
The Elevate Water Based Concrete Stain is another concentrated stain on this list, but this brand ships in a full-sized container, and you only need to add clean water once and mix well. The result is a UV stable stain that dries overnight so you can apply sealer the next day.
The downside to this stain is that it’s not very strong and requires several coats to get a good color. The extra coatings dramatically reduce the coverage area of this stain to a small space.
The Direct Colors Concrete Acid Stain is the last brand on our list, and this product is for small areas, artistic projects, or to use as a sample pack for their larger containers. This product is a ten-pack of 5-ounce bottles featuring one of every color that Direct Colors offer. These acid-based stains leave a solid color that gets deeper as you allow the stain to sit.
The downside is that it’s only for small areas like a countertop or a table.
Let’s examine the concrete stain and see what’s important to look for when you are making your next purchase.
Safety is critical when using any of these stains. The acids and harmful vapors can do a lot of damage very quickly. Always wear safety glasses, rubber gloves, and rubber boots when applying these stains. If the fumes are overpowering, a respirator may be required.
Before you can apply any of these stains, the surface must be as clean as possible. These products will make any imperfections or stains more visible, so it’s essential to remove them if you can. There are plenty of mild cleansers, degreasers, and stain removers that will help. Pressure washing works very well at cleaning concrete. Allow the surface to dry completely before applying any stain.
Unlike other kinds of satin and dyes, we divide concrete stain into three categories. These categories are film-forming, penetrating, and acid stains.
Film-forming stains were the original concrete stain, and these resemble ordinary paint. These stains lay on top of the concrete to protect it and add color. The film-forming stain will wear out over time as ultraviolet light, temperature changes, and humidity break down the stain and cause it to chip and crack. The film-forming stain will need to be reapplied every few years to keep it looking good.
You can apply a film-forming stain with a brush or a roller, and some like to use it as a spray. The main thing is to apply it evenly to avoid streak. You can seal a film-forming stain after 25 hours.
Penetrating stains last a lot longer than film-forming stains and penetrate the surface. Penetrating stains are resistant to fading and chipping. These stains are often water-based and don’t produce a lot of harmful VOCs. These stains come in a wide variety of colors, but the color is translucent so that it won’t hide any blemishes or imperfections in your concrete.
Use a sponge to apply a penetrating stain for the most control and decorative possibilities. You can also use a roller, brush, or sprayer, but they might not work as well decoratively.
Acid stains do not use pigments for color how film-forming and penetrating stains do. Instead, acid stains rely on chemical reactions between the acid in the stain and minerals in the concrete to provide a natural marble look to your cement.
Acid stains need the most care when applying because of safety concerns, and they are usually more expensive than film-forming or penetrating stains. It’s also challenging to know what the finished result will look like since you need to wait and see how the acid reacts with the chemicals.
It’s important when cleaning and preparing the cement for an acid stain that you don’t use a chemical that can react with the stain and cause an undesired result.
Apply acid stain using a plastic garden sprayer. Spray in a circular motion about one foot from the concrete surface. Move quickly, so the stain doesn’t pool. If your concrete isn’t level, the stain may drain and collect in the lower areas producing a darker color.
With any category of stain, the color it produces, and the vibrancy of that color are critical concerns. Film forming stains and penetrating stains are available in many colors, while acid stain colors are always unique.
The drying time of your stain is another critical component of a concrete stain. Drying time determines when you can walk on a surface, but more importantly, it tells you when you can apply a sealer.
Once you have stained your concrete, you may want to apply a concrete sealer. A sealer will add a layer of protection from moisture and ultraviolet light. This extra layer will protect your concrete and preserve the color of the stain as well.
We hope you have enjoyed reading over our concrete stain reviews and buyer’s guide. If you’re still unsure about what stain to buy, we stand behind our choice for the best overall concrete stain, the Kemiko Stone Tone Concrete Stain. This stain is easy to use, doesn’t produce any harmful VOCs, but does provide a professional-grade finish. If your concrete is worn out and this is your first-time staining, you might want to spring for our premium choice. The EnduraCoat DIYKITSB250BW Acid Stain DIY Kit provides everything you need to clean up, stain, and seal your concrete in one package.
If you have learned something new, thanks to our buyer’s guide and feel closer to deciding on a stain thanks to our reviews, please share these concrete stain reviews on social media.
Featured Image Credit By: INSL-X CST211009A-01, amazon
Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!