Introduction: How to Apply Multi-color Concrete Stain
I needed to bring my 6 year concrete patio back to life, so I decided to apply a multi-colored semi-transparent stain. These are the steps I used to complete the job. My patio is approximately 440 square feet with a solid earth tone color mixed in to the concrete and a salt rock finish. I used a Rustoleum semi-transparent stain, which I bought from Lowes for around $33.00 per can. Although the product claims to cover between 250-400 square feet, I ended up needing 5 cans total (4 Sienna, 1 Burnt Brick). The stain was applied via a pressurized canister with spray nozzle. Total time was approximately 4 hours (8 if you count the drying time between applications and trips back to Lowes for more stain).
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Step 1: Surface Prep
For the surface preparation, I pressure washed the entire concrete area after removing all patio furniture and allowed to dry for approximately 1 hour. Next, I applied a citrus etcher to prepare the concrete for staining, this step is necessary for ensuring that concrete will absorb the stain. To apply the citrus etcher, I used a 2 gallon water can and a packet of citrus etcher, which is non-toxic and will not hurt your grass. Add the citrus etcher in to the watering can and mix with 2 gallons of water, stirring until dissolved. Since my patio is sectioned off, I found it easier to break this part up into 2 sections, starting in the corner. First spray the area with water, then apply the citrus etcher liberally in a section and scrub the entire section with a deck brush. Once a section is complete, rinse the section thoroughly with water until the run off is clear. Once the remaining section(s) are complete, allow concrete to completely dry before moving on to the next step.
Step 2: Protect Areas That Should Not Be Stained
The next step in preparation is protecting areas that you do not want stained by over spray. I used and 18 inch plastic covering with the tape attached. A 100 foot roll was approximately $6.00.
Step 3: Cutting in the Stain
In order to not spray stain on the house or other areas, I used a 3" general purpose paint brush to cut the stain in to the edge of the house.
Step 4: Staining the Edges
In order to prevent over-spray on other areas, I continued to stain using the 3 inch paint brush around the perimeter of the concrete.
Step 5: Applying the Stain
After all the cutting in of the stain to the edges, using a pressurized spray canister, the stain can now be applied. Before spraying, I pressurized the canister then using a bucket, adjusted the nozzle to a fine spray and removed any air that may have been in the spray wand. This is important, since you want a continuous fine spray without it sputtering or dripping. I also kept a rag on hand, so as the pressure diminished, I would lightly let off the handle and place the rag at the tip of the nozzle to prevent any dripping. Choose a corner to begin in and work your way backwards, to an exit point, so you don't have to walk on your freshly applied stain. To apply the stain, I kept the nozzle approximately 18 inches from the surface and moved the wand in a circular pattern, overlapping each circle to ensure consistent application. In order to prevent having to bleed the air out of the wand after a refill, be sure to refill the canister before all the stain is sprayed out. Once the first coat is applied to the entire surface, allow 1 hour to dry before applying the next coat. During the drying time, clean the spray canister by rinsing it with water, then placing the pressurizing handle back in, add pressure, then spray it into a bucket until it is only spraying clear water.
Step 6: Apply Contrasting Stain
Using the same method as in the last step, I applied a contrasting stain, in my case, Rustoleum Burnt Brick. This layer is not applied as evenly as the first coat, as it is just to add another color to provide contrast. The application is more of a personal preference as to how much contrast you want in your finished product. Once this coat is applied to the entire surface, allow 1 hour to dry before applying the next coat. During the drying time, clean the spray canister by rinsing it with water, then placing the pressurizing handle back in, add pressure, then spray it into a bucket until it is only spraying clear water.
Step 7: Final Color Application
The last application of the stain, using the same method previously described, I applied a final light coat of the original base of Sienna. This added another level of depth to the contrast of colors. Once the final coat is applied to the surface, allow 1 hour to dry before applying the next wet look sealer. During the drying time, clean the spray canister by rinsing it with water, then placing the pressurizing handle back in, add pressure, then spray it into a bucket until it is only spraying clear water.
Step 8: Seal the Stain
The final step is to apply a wet look sealer to the concrete to help prolong the life of the stain you just spent so much time applying. The sealer is applied with the same method as the stain. The best approach is to apply the seal in 2 light coats as opposed to 1 heavy coat, allowing 1 hour of drying time between the coats. After you complete applying the sealer, clean your canister as instructed in the previous steps. The surface is safe for light foot traffic after 24 hours and 72 hours for heavier objects (patio furniture, etc).