Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Patio Concrete Stain

Early last summer I saw a project on Beneath My Heart about staining their concrete patio.  It transformed the plain concrete patio into something beautiful!  In my head, I started secretly planning to do the same thing to our concrete patio.

Our patio has come a long way since we moved in.
Here’s what went down:
  • we tore down the ugly screens
  • we power-washed the chipped paint off the ceiling
  • Dylan replaced every two 2x4 supports with a single 4x4 post
  • Dylan tore off the old flat shingled roof and replaced it with a pitched tin roof
  • we primed and painted the ceiling and posts (with the help of friends)
  • we cut down an ugly evergreen shrub/tree and improved the landscaping

After all of that, the patio was already looking much better than when we started, but I felt like staining the concrete would take it to the next level.  My parents and sister Amy were planning on visiting us during a weekend in August, so we decided to work on it that weekend.  First I swept off the concrete and scrubbed it with muriatic acid and a hard bristle brush.  I was extra careful in this step, because muriatic acid is some nasty stuff!  Don't you just love my nerdy protective goggles?
The next morning we used a carpenter’s square and tape measures to mark off 18 inch square “tiles” on a diagonal pattern.  After I’d gotten several lines marked off, my mom and Amy started taping off the tiles with ½ inch masking tape.
Note: ½ inch masking tape isn’t easy to find…fortunately I found a place in St. Louis on their route that sold it, so they picked it up on the way.  I didn’t want to use standard ¾ inch tape, because it would make the taped off portion (the grout lines) too wide.

This part took awhile, but we were already getting an idea of what the finished product would look like, which was exciting!
And, of course, we did all of that under the supervision of the cutest kitten in the world.
In the next step, we hit a glitch.  In the blog tutorial on Beneath My Heart, she found her concrete stain at Lowe’s, and they had several options for the color of stain.  Because I live in a tiny town, our only option was Home Depot.  While usually I like it just as well or better than its counterpart, Home Depot didn’t have many options for concrete stain.  We were hoping for a brown-ish gray color that would coordinate with the tin roof, which was called "Burnished Slate."
After seeing the limited options (most were too red) and discussing it with the paint counter pro, we decided to use the jet black stain at 30% of the power (hoping it’d give us a gray color).  However, when we got home, for some reason the “black” looked decidedly blue, which was not the look we were going for.  We were able to return it and get our money back.  At this point, we decided to go with some semi-transparent concrete stain at Walmart, in the color “Brownstone" of the Seal-Krete brand, and add some blacking to it, which we purchased a bottle of at Home Depot.  This way we were able to get more of a color we wanted, with the only down side being that adding the blacking meant that the stain was no longer semi-transparent, but rather opaque.
We started rolling it on, and loved the way it was looking!  After all of the time-consuming cleaning, measuring, and taping, this part flew by!
However, as always seems to happen, we ran out with only a few square feet to go.  Bummer.
The coverage wasn't perfect, though, and there were a few places that stroke marks were visible, so a second coat wasn’t the worst thing.  Back at Walmart, we bought another gallon of stain and took it home to mix up our custom color.  As the patio needed more dry time, and we’d been at it all day, measuring, taping, and finally staining, we decided to do the second coat the following day.
Sunday after church we got busy staining, and this time around it went very quickly.  As the stain dried we carefully tip-toed around the patio and peeled off the masking tap.  Fortunately we didn’t have to deal with the tape peeling off the stain like sometimes happens with paint.  The family headed back to St. Louis shortly after, and Dylan helped me put on three coats of clear, glossy concrete sealer later that night.  One gallon was enough for all three coats!  The concrete sealer goes on milky white, but dries clear.
Finally the next day we were able to see the finished product in the daylight.  It looks like real tile!  We had a few friends over and they commented on how great it looked, and were taken aback when I told them that we’d stained it.
One of the greatest things about this project is how inexpensive a transformation it was!  Here's an estimated cost breakdown (because by now, I've forgotten the specifics!):
  • muriatic acid: $8
  • stiff bristle brush: $5
  • rubber gloves: free (already had)
  • 1/2 masking tape: $5 for 3 rolls
  • concrete stain (2 gallons): $50
  • blacking: $5
  • concrete sealer: $25
Grand total: About $100.

Not bad at all!


  1. A major renovation did take place in your patio. But I’m sure you have no regrets. ;) Love what you did to the floor, creating those faux tiles through staining! It’s no wonder now that your deck inspiration is beautiful. You may have made an illusion of a tiled floor, but it can never get cracked like a tile would. ;) -->Kylee

    1. Thanks! No regrets for sure. Since then we've sold that house and started on another! I didn't realize this blog was still up and running. You can find me at now. Come check it out!

  2. I would love to stain the cement on my back patio! I really admire the design and color you chose for yours. Thank you for the step-by-step directions and pictures. Reading this blog was so helpful! Since you've had this finished now for about a year, my question to you is: Have you noticed the stain being chipped/scratched away? I was reading up on staining concrete and one source said to make sure you don't drag your furniture across it, because it tends to scratch and chip. That concerns me to a degree, because my family and friends aren't the most careful people. haha! I need something that is relatively durable! Do you find it to be fairly durable? Also, did you have trouble with the stain bleeding underneath the tape? Any other hints/tips you have to offer when doing this project? You're great! Thanks again for sharing!

    1. Thanks for visiting! I actually forgot I had this blog up and running still...I'm currently residing at, if you care to visit. :)

      We didn't have any issues with bleeding stain under the tape. We made sure to press it firmly to the concrete before staining. The lines weren't perfectly crisp like you can get when painting over drywall, but since concrete is more uneven I think it's inevitable. I'm a bit of a perfectionist and it didn't bug me, if that helps.

      As far as cracking goes, there was a bit of an issue with it after a year. I can't say it would happen with all concrete stains, though. We added "concrete blacking" to ours (usually an additive to actual concrete, not stain) to make it the color we wanted, which I think was the reason it flaked off in a couple of places. We were limited with stain options so we had to make it work (Home Depot didn't have our desired color, but Lowes did...the closest Lowes was over 1.5 hours away).

      Would I do it again? For sure. It totally made the place feel swanky for not much money. Even the parts that flaked were repaired easily (with a bit of leftover stain applied to bare spots after scrubbing to remove any loose parts).

      Hope this helps!

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  4. Thank you for the post! I have a cracked patio and wasn't certain what to do about it. Should I leave it? Call in an expert? Do it myself? Your patio looks brand new again. I like how you decorated your outdoor space. I should do the same, instead of leaving outside as one big ugly storage space. ~Crack and joint repair

  5. This looks like such a simple and really great project! I have had a concrete patio for years, but it is very old and doesn't look very nice anymore, so I think that a project such as this would really help my home look better. I think I will talk to my husband about getting this done, but I'm not sure when we will have the time to do it on our own. I wonder if there are services that will do staining for concrete patios?