Concrete Dye vs Stain- Understand the Difference

Concrete Dye Application & Tips

Concrete surfaces are usually dull and gray. However, they should not remain this way. Color and other decorations can be added to concrete to enhance its aesthetic appeal, using concrete dyes and stains. The method used will ultimately depend on whether the concrete surface is outdoors or indoors as well as the expected effect. For example, if you want to achieve intense color, then you should use concrete dyes. On the other hand, if the concrete surface is outdoors, then you should use a concrete stain. Concrete stain is more resistant to normal wear and fading, thus more preferable for outdoor surfaces.

Concrete Dye Colors

Dyes are a coloring matter or material, which impart a certain hue to a surface. They are a great way to enhance and color existing concrete slabs. They also give you a wide range of options to choose from, when you want to color your dull concrete. Furthermore, they dry very quickly.

concrete dye colors

Dyes are mainly available in the form of a super-fine powder, which can be dispersed in water or a solvent, depending on the manufacturer. UV rays affect most true dyes, which makes them unsuitable for outdoor concrete surfaces. Recently, manufacturers have moved to pigments, which are available in vibrant colors. These pigments are also resistant to UV rays.

Concrete Stains Adding Color

Contrary to dyes, concrete stains are usually classified into 3 main categories: penetrating, film-forming and acid stains. All the 3 types of stains are available in different colors, shades, textures, and tints. However, each form uses different technology, to achieve the distinctive decorative look.

Film-forming stains are among the oldest. They work like paint, simply coating the surface and adding color. However, after exposure to the elements and human traffic, they fade, flake or peel. Penetrating stains are a better alternative to film-forming stains. They penetrate to the deeper layers of the concrete, giving it decorative color.

These dyes can be mixed with water or solvents such as acetone or alcohol. The carrier penetrates the concrete allowing the dye to spread within the pores, and effect color change. Concrete stains are made up of water, salts and hydrochloric acid. A chemical reaction occurs with the calcium hydroxide present in concrete, leading to color change.

The Results 

As highlighted before, concrete dyes are available in a solvent or water-based formulas. They produce a wide range of different effects, from opaque to translucent. Water-based dyes usually create a variegated or marbled color, close to the effects of a stain. On the other hand, solvent-based dyes lead to a more uniform or opaque coloration.

Stains tend to etch concrete’s surface, instead of penetrating. This leads to a mottled or variegated finish. The color of stains and dyes is quite different, once it is applied on concrete. For example, a stain may appear dark green when you buy it from the shop. However, it might take a reddish-brown color, after reacting with the concrete. In short, you cannot know the final color, unless the chemical reaction has taken place.

Application Tools and Time 

Application of concrete stains and dyes requires specialized and protective equipment like goggles, rubber gloves, and respirator. Both types of coloring agents are applied using a sprayer. If you are working on small areas, you can use a spray bottle, sponges or brushes. However, if you are applying acid-based chemical stains, then you can only use a sprayer since they are highly resistant to hydrochloric acid.

These sprayers are made of plastic. They don’t have metal parts. Furthermore, containers used to mix or hold the stain should be purely made of plastic. Both stains and dyes are easy to apply. However, chemical stains need a minimum of 5 hours to dry, to give stains sufficient time for reacting with concrete.

After around 5 hours, the stain residue should be neutralized with a water solution, combined with baking soda or ammonia. Concrete dyes dry within a couple of minutes. In addition, they don’t require any form of rinsing.

Options and Versatility 

Concrete dyes are not UV stable. Therefore, you will notice that most manufacturers recommend them for indoor use only. On the other hand, concrete stains have remarkable UV stability. They are also resistant to fading and wear, making them perfect for both indoor and outdoor concrete surfaces. However, they are limited when it comes to color. They are usually available in earth tones like reddish-brown, greens, blues or terracotta. Dyes are available in different colors. This means they have more versatility.

Concrete Dye Contractor  Services areas: Calabasas, Tarzana, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Santa Clarita, Westlake Village, West Hollywood, Santa Monica, Brentwood, Beverly Hills, Hancock Park, Encino, Malibu, Porter Ranch, Burbank, Bel Aire, Pasadena, La Canada, Simi Valley, Mt Olympus, Culver City

Concrete Design Concrete Staining, Sealing, Resurfacing Los Angeles

Concrete Design Concrete Countertop Forms

Concrete has become the flooring material of choice, for many homeowners across the world. Interior designers and homeowners love working with concrete, due to its cost effectiveness and quality.

Indoor concrete design and installation is affordable and can be used in countless ways. The versatility of concrete makes it a suitable material for a wide range of applications, including countertops and floors.

concrete design

Concrete surfaces are common in retail stores, offices, restaurants, and residential properties across the US. Concrete design and installation is easy. In addition, it comes with numerous health benefits.

Concrete Coatings

When it comes to countertops, most people prefer natural looking materials like brick and stone options. Marble is also highly popular, although it tends to be quite expensive and less durable. Limestone and granite also provide possible alternatives.

However, they tend to be inferior, expensive and less durable. Most people don’t know that concrete can be easily styled to resemble any quarried stone like granite, marble or limestone.

Concrete Epoxy Coatings

You can also coat or color concrete using epoxy, to achieve the desired color tone or smoothness. This feature is impossible in most other materials that would be used for such a project.

If you not convinced yet on the suitability of concrete for your countertop, then you can use it for your floor, with exemplary results.

The good news is that there is even a wider range of options when it comes to customizations for the floor. For example, you can use micro-toppings, to add a speckled texture or color.

You can also overlay it using paint stain or inlay using countless patterns and textures. The cut tile effect can also be achieved in any color that you prefer. It resembles the original look so much that it is hard to tell the difference unless you have worked in the industry for long.

One of the greatest things about concrete is that you can be standing on it, and you will not be able to recognize it. It was commonly used for large spaces like floors.

However, it is increasingly being used in small and condensed spaces like sinks and fireplaces. When using it on the fireplace, concrete can be effectively worked and crafted, to give the framing mantle an artful appearance.

Whatever, shape, color or texture that you prefer on your basin, it can be crafted and poured in any style. You can have a modern, sleek and hard edge or a softer, porcelain-looking basin, which will not rust or chip away like original porcelain.


One of the biggest benefits of concrete design is its affordability, as compared to other materials. Installing a decorative concrete countertop or floor can be cost-effective, especially if your slab is ready for polishing, staining, and application of overlay or coating.
A basic concrete surface will have a similar cost to linoleum, ceramic tile, vinyl or carpet.

On the other hand, a complex concrete design will carry a similar price tag or even cheaper, when compared to marble, slate, granite, and high-end wood. Moreover, the lifetime cost of a concrete surface is considerably low, since it requires little maintenance coupled with unmatched durability.

Bottom Line

When it comes to indoor concrete design and installation, the options are endless. You can achieve almost every texture or color combination that you prefer, at an affordable cost. Furthermore, concrete is one of the most durable materials used for building and construction.


Colored Cement- Colored Concrete Mix

Colored Cement-Polished Concrete

Polished concrete has quickly grown to become one of the most preferred flooring materials. With recent advancements in polishing techniques and equipment, you can achieve almost any color that you prefer, using polished concrete.


It is durable, beautiful, and has a low cost of maintenance. This makes it one of the most effective flooring materials currently available. In addition, polished concrete is eco-friendly.

Concrete used during the process, is locally produced, which means that it does not have to be transported over long distances. If you intend to restore an old concrete floor, you are simply recycling the concrete, thus you are not filling up the landfills.

Furthermore, the chemicals used during the polishing process are environmentally friendly. There are three main methods of coloring concrete floors. These are acid staining, water-based colors, and solvent-based dyes.

Acid Staining Colored Cement

Acid staining gives your floors an expensive look at a little cost. It gives your floors a luxurious richness, which cannot be achieved using other coloring mediums.
Instead of producing an opaque or solid-like effect like paint, these paints penetrate the concrete while infusing it with translucent, luminous tones.

These tones depend on the application techniques and the surface they are applied. With acid staining, you can mimic anything you want, from natural stone, tanned leather, stained wood and even polished marble. Since they are UV resistant, they don’t fade or peel away.

Colored Cement acid stain concrete floors

Apart from that, the application does not affect indoor air quality since organic compounds are not used in the mixture. The versatility of concrete stains allows you to achieve any imaginable look, which suits your budget and design tastes.

With acid staining, you can add bolder design accents, subtle hints of color, or even custom graphics. The application can be done on existing as well as new floors. It also works well with concrete overlays.

– Limitations

The final colors achieved are affected by the chemical composition of the concrete. This means that results are quite unpredictable. However, this is not a limitation per se.

In fact, it can make things interesting unless you are too rigid in terms of color variation. There are 3 main color options that you can choose from, brown, black and blue-green. The installation process requires an experienced and skillful technician.

Furthermore, the process takes longer to complete as compared to other coloring options, making it more expensive. The colored concrete layer is fragile and thin. Therefore, you must protect it with a sealer, which must be re-applied regularly.

Solvent-Based Dyes

These are composed of fine color molecules mixed with a solvent, to permeate and color the concrete. Extra applications can be done to enhance its coverage.

Unlike acid-staining, the outcome here is more predictable while the process is much faster. The results show right immediately. Once the dye is dry, the floor is sealed, ready to be used right away. There is a wide range of vibrant colors to choose. It all depends on how you want your floor to appear.

– Limitations 

Although its installation process is not as complex as acid staining, it also requires an experienced and skilled technician.
In addition, the solvents used are quite strong, which means that powerful odors of alcohol and acetone produced during the process can affect indoor air quality.

The dye does not hide imperfections on the floor. It might appear uneven on different areas of the floor, depending on the level of hardness and humidity. Colors obtained are not UV resistant.
They are prone to fading, calling for reapplication after some time.

Water-Based Colors

Colors are usually mixed with water, sprayed on the floor, and then scrubbed onto the surface using a microfiber mop or broom. There is a wide range of colors to choose from. It is easy to apply and does not emit strong odors. The outcome is predictable. Overall, this process is eco-friendly and affordable.

– Limitations 

The color does not penetrate deep enough. This necessitates the use of a sealer to protect the surface. The sealer must be regularly maintained to prevent color from wearing off. The colors obtained are not UV stable, thus require regular reapplication, based on the exposure of the surface to sunlight.

concrete dye colors

Polished Concrete Floors

The color is what makes polished concrete floors more appealing. Color provides greater design options.
If you are a homeowner, you can use color to highlight the floor as the standout interior feature.

Apart from that, you can blend it smoothly with the interior décor and other home accessories. Floors in showrooms and offices can be enhanced with color finishes, to make the surface more appealing or to highlight the colors of the company.

Another advantage is that color can be used to hide imperfections like patches present on a floor, which makes it more appealing.

Concrete Acid Staining Los Angeles

Concrete Acid Staining Floors

Concrete acid staining is one of the most common applications for transforming concrete surfaces and slabs. Usually known as colored concrete, builders, designers, and homeowners are mainly attracted to stained concrete, due to unique outcomes. The unique outcomes are mainly achieved through combining application techniques and colors, on cement flooring. Acid concrete staining can be conducted on indoor concrete floors, garage floors, stairs, and patios, walkways, basement floors and other concrete surfaces.

Stain Types Available

There are two main types of stains to choose. They are a water-based and acid based stain. Here are the benefits and setbacks of each.

Acid-based stain: In this stain, the color palette tends to be quite limited. However, it is more durable than water-based stains. It is therefore ideally suited for high traffic areas. Additionally, it doesn’t, chip, peel or fade. It is mainly available in translucent and earth tones. Making it easy to pick up variations found in concrete. It also resembles a more natural look like that of wood or stone. After application, you have to clean the surface to remove any residues.

Water-based stain: With the water-based stains, you can achieve almost any color or color combination that you wish. Unlike their acid-based counterparts, they rarely interact with the concrete being stained. This means that the color will remain consistent.

concrete acid staining

– Moreover, their application process is easy while clean up is minimal. Apart from that, they are non-toxic which makes it easy to find several environmentally friendly products to work with. Their main setback is that they take longer to adhere to the surface. This makes it hard to fix a mistake. If you have sealed concrete, stains that are hard to remove or concrete already cleaned with acid, then you should use water-based stains.

How to Apply Acid Stain

Prepare the Surface

Whether you intend to stain old or new concrete, it is essential to prepare the surface thoroughly. Unlike coatings and paints that are opaque and can cover several defects, acid stains are translucent. Therefore, any residue left on the concrete’s surface is likely to be noticeable through the applied stain.

If this initial step is properly done, it greatly impacts the final look of the finished surface. Surface preparation can be undertaken through two ways. It can be done with the use of a specially formulated cleaner or via mechanical grinding.

Apply the Decorative Stain

Before the application of the stain, it is advisable to test a sample in another area. This will give you a rough estimate of the number of coats needed to produce the desired effect. You also need to mask off the area that you intend to apply the stain, to protect the walls, door frames and other surfaces that can be affected by the stain.

After masking the other surfaces, dilute your stain using water, based on the manufacturer’s specifics and recommendations. Brush or spray on first coat. In areas where precise stain application is needed, use a sponge or brush. Allow the newly applied stain to dry. This may take around 20 minutes, based on the prevailing humidity, air flow, and temperature. For more color intensity, repeat the process. It is advisable to wait for several hours, for repeated applications.

Remove Residue Neutralize the Acid Stain

After application of the stain, a thorough cleanup is needed. Failure to do this leaves behind undesired marks showing through on the acid stained concrete. For the cleanup process, use water to rinse the concrete until it runs clear.

Use ammonia or baking soda to neutralize the stain. This is very necessary since you are using acid-based stains in this process. Water-based stains don’t need any neutralization. Use a soft broom or brush to loosen all the stubborn residues before final rinsing.

Add a Protection Coat

Allow the concrete acid staining concrete floors to dry throughout the night or even longer. Proceed to apply any sealer that you prefer. For optimum durability, it is recommended to apply two coats of stain.

The sealer applied mainly depends on whether the surface is outdoors or indoors, as well as the desired gloss level. For extra protection against scratches and scuffs, you can also apply a floor wax or finish.

Bottom Line

Acid-based stains are composed of inorganic metallic salts, which are dissolved in an acid solution. They penetrate the concrete’s surface, then react chemically resulting in a permanent bond. They help people achieve decorative and unique effects, at a reasonable cost. You can use them to create a wide range of colors on both exterior and interior surfaces.

For more information about concrete acid staining contact us 818 984-1195