How To Stain Your Concrete Driveway

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Step 1

 

 

Know What You Need

Measure the square footage of concrete, so you can buy the right amount of stain. To do this, measure the length by the width (don't forget any small areas to the side!). Buy enough stain to cover, keeping in mind that if you're using a multi-layer, accented approach as we did, you won't need full coverage for accent coats.

Step 2

Clean Up Your Act

Clean the concrete surface with a degreasing cleaning product (you can buy a specific degreasing concrete solution from any hardware store or make your own using Dawn(TM)) and ensure it is clear of any debris. Do your best to remove oil stains with the degreaser, then use the power washer to thoroughly clean the entire surface. Let it completely dry and then sweep off any remaining debris or dirt.

Jane Tip: If you've just poured the concrete, make sure the concrete has been cured for at least 28 days before beginning any additional treatment to it.

Step 3

Prep Everything Else

Cover anything surrounding the driveway with masking paper or plastic sheeting. One of the things we liked about the Americrete products was that they are nontoxic and biodegradable, meaning we weren't likely to damage the lawn or nearby plants, which cut down on masking. Don your protective gear—this is always important, but especially so if you happen to be using acid-based stains.

SAFETY TIP!: If you choose an acid-based stain, make sure you ventilate, ventilate, ventilate! Wear protective clothing at all times. Use rubber gloves, goggles, thick socks and anything else to keep the stain away from your skin.

Step 4

Protect your Stain before you Start

Because Lana's driveway was fairly new and had evidence of efflorescence (a leaching of salts from soils under the driveway up through the concrete, leaving a white, powdery stain), we applied an efflorescence blocker with a plastic garden sprayer. We worked in a simple back and forth motion, applying the blocker evenly, and then brushed it out further with a push broom. Avoid walking on the wet surface until the blocker dries--for us it took about an hour.

Step 5

Spray on that stain, layer by layer

Starting in a corner, begin spraying a smooth coat of stain, using the high-pressure, low-volume sprayer at a distance of about two feet. Lana wanted a textured, stone-like look, which required a multiple coat approach. We sprayed on an even base coat layer and then let it dry for about an hour, per the manufacturer's instructions.

Jane Tip: With different types of stains, you may need to allow up to 24 hours' drying time—and you'll want to keep critters, kids, and adults off the surface while it dries. Footprints in wet stain can stay forever.

We continued to spray on successive coats in basically the same way, though each coat was more selectively applied--i.e. we spayed some areas more than others. This mottled, "air-brushed" technique is what gave us the rich, textured look of stone. It's important to let the stain dry, then consider whether the texture and color are coming out to your liking. You can continue adding accents and layers until you get it just right. The technique is similar to faux-painting, in that you are trying to create an unpatterned, natural look.

Step 6

Seal in the Goodness

After you're happy with the look of your staining, let it dry for a full 24 hours (again, keep feet off the surface). When it's completely dry, roll on the sealant using a low nap roller. We opted for a satin finish, which further darkened our stain and gave it a slight sheen. Let it dry and give yourself a high five.

Jane Tip: As with the stains, there are different forms of sealants. Many sealants will result in a slick concrete surface when wet. Look into non-skid or slip-resistant sealers or additives if you have a steep driveway or are concerned about the slick surface.

Congratulations! You've just taken your driveway from gray to gorgeous. After a few weeks, you will wonder how you were ever able to park on such a drab surface in the first place. Concrete staining is a bit complicated and requires a few tools you may need to rent, but the end effect will give your driveway—and most likely the whole front of your house—a whole new attitude.

Jane Tip: We've given you the basics on how to stain your driveway, but there are many ways to take it a step further and truly make your concrete surface into a work of art. Check out stamping, etching and engraving techniques for adding even more creativity to your new designer driveway.

Install an Inviting Front Gate
Build a Pathway Arbor
Build a Beautiful Fence

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14 comments

4
Aug

I loved your video on MSN and even more happy to have found your website. When I finish my driveway, can I do the same thing on my concrete patio surrounding the pool? That would be fantastic. Thanks Jan Barreto
4
Aug

I am curious too about whether this technique will work for a patio surrounding or ajoining to a pool. Is it slippery? Thanks! Chris
19
Sep

yes you can do staining around your pool and just about anything cement. You will want to use a antislip additive
6
Aug

2 questions: (1) Is it advisable to stain the driveway in areas of the country where there are freeze/thaw periods (we are in Michigan, zone 4/5); and (2) the very end of our drive is, ugh, blacktop, and the rest is concrete. Can we stain it all to be uniform?
19
Sep

Yes you can. You will want to protect you drive way with layers of sealer. there are sealers that are uv protective. And if you are using it on your drive way make sure the sealer is hot tire rated.

21
Aug

can you use this on a concrete floor in a house? will this stain cover up cracks in the concrete thanks for the help kathy
19
Sep

You can stain anything concrete, And no the stain will not cover up cracks. Think about using an acid stain this type of stain will react with your concrete and creat a marble look to it and the small hair line cracks will add to the beauty of the floor

6
Oct

I have a large spot at the end of my driveway that I need to repair. The asphalt is gone and it's down to the dirt. The rest of the driveway is ok. My plan is to add stone (gravel) pack it down, then add some asphalt. FYI: I and a friend of mine are undertaking this project after the last contractor (one of many and who had no license, by the way) proceeded to measure my driveway by 'walking it', then gave me an inaccurate (surprise) measurement that was off by 20 feet. ENOUGH! Thanks for your help.
3
May

I'd have trouble following the cleaning directions, as the gunk that gets washed off, as well as the detergent or degreaser are likely to go right to the gutter, into the storm drain and into a local creek or shoreline. How do you prevent this from harming the environment?
4
May

There are quite a few GREEN cleaning products on the market lately that do a fantastic job of cleaning concrete without the harmful effects. Most people think you can't have an organic alternative, but they're out there. Once I find some good product links, I'll put them up here.
12
Jul

Will stainint work on any climate conditions? Where we live, the summer temperatures reach 120 degrees! I've seen some concrete staining around my neighborhood and I've noticed it starts to peel-off within a few months. Could it be that they are not doing the application correctly or is it our weather.
14
Jul

The peeling in the summer can be due to several factors. I would guess that the clear sealer is what is peeling off. The concrete may not be properly prepped before the clear sealer is applied.

Also, you will want to make sure that the clear sealer is applied at a cooler temperature and as listed on the product information. Acid staining may be better to do in the fall or winter when temperatures may be closer to 70 or 80 degrees.

You can check local paint stores for concrete stain/sealer (not concrete paint). You may need to use a solvent based concrete stain/sealer to penetrate the concrete, rather than set on top.

13
Apr

What a great idea! Unfortunately, my driveway is asphalt, but I will pass along the ideas to others!
6
Jun

Hey! I really love that driveway you did. I want to do that too! I live in San Diego, CA. I couldn't find a place to rent it. where can I rent High Pressure, Low-volume sprayer and compressor? thanks a lot! Amy