What Is the Difference Between Concrete Water-Based Stain and Acid Stain?

Concrete is a wonderful option for flooring due to its affordability, durability, and low maintenance. It is naturally gray and not necessarily pleasant to the eye, but at Artistic Concrete Designs, we like to add a little spark and zest to concrete. We do this with concrete staining, an excellent choice for people who want to add decorative effects to their flooring at a reasonable cost.
Artistic Concrete Designs has over a hundred color options for your concrete flooring. Our options include water-based staining and acid staining. This article will go over some of the differences between the two so that you can make an educated decision on your concrete staining. If you would like to consult with a professional, then call Artistic Concrete Designs today.

What Is Acid Staining?

Acid staining involves a chemical reaction where acidic solutions with metallic salts react with the lime content in the concrete. The acid opens up the surface of the concrete and the metallic salts form a permanent bond with the concrete surface to give it a beautiful, translucent coating. It is also important to remember that the solution contains corrosive components that can irritate eyes and skin. Be sure to wear protective clothing and eyewear if you plan to install this yourself.
The color options are limited, however, to mostly subtle earth tones. Because acid staining is reactive with lime content, wide color variations are typical. You have much less control over the final result. The color effects will be more emphasized on new concrete as opposed to older, weathered concrete with low lime content. Other factors that influence the outcome of acid staining include:

  • Cement and admixtures used
  • Concrete finishing
  • Concrete age and moisture during staining
  • Weather condition during staining
  • Efflorescence

What About Water-Based Staining?

Water-based staining has the distinct advantage of plenty of color options. Artistic Concrete Designs, for example, offers over 100 color options. This method works by penetrating the pores of the concrete and leaving their pigment particles in the open pores. The result is more opaque and more uniform than acid staining. Because water-based staining is non-reactive, you can control the coloring by adjusting the amount of stain you apply. These products are also free of solvents and acids, so they are safer to apply.


If you have great confidence in your skills and have the necessary tools, then you might be able to handle this job on your own. However, remember to wear protective clothing and eye protection if you are using acid staining. Still, we recommend that you hire the professionals if you want to guarantee the results. You only get one chance at doing it right. The experts at Artistic Concrete Designs have the experience and tools to get the job done right the first time around. We also have a large line of products including protective coatings to increase your flooring’s durability and resistance to impact, chemicals, and spills. Call Artistic Concrete Designs to speak with a friendly representative today at (770) 580-2700 or contact us online.