Concrete Stain vs Paint For Your Garage

stain vs paint comparison

When you want to change the look and feel of your garage, one of the first things you might consider doing is adding some color to the floor.

This could take the form of a concrete stain or paint.

What’s the difference between the two?

The main difference between concrete stain and paint is that stains require sealer so that color depth will be achieved, whereas paint doesn’t require this.

But there’s more to know about concrete stain vs paint. Let’s take a look at both as well as what their pros and cons are so you can choose the best solution for your garage floor.

Concrete Stain: Should You Use It?

concrete stain in garage

There are many important benefits associated with choosing a concrete stain for your garage floor.

These include how the stain embeds the surface to offer a translucent color. Concrete stain can be applied quickly and it dries fast. You also have to put in less effort when making use of concrete stain instead of concrete paint.

However, it doesn’t offer protection for your floor.

There are two types of concrete stain. One is a water-based stain. This is applied quickly but you need to apply a sealant to it so that the stain won’t fade.

The other type is an acid-based stain. This type of stain reacts to the concrete’s ingredients and doesn’t really have as many color options as compared to water-based stains.

Acid-based stains are also potentially dangerous when you apply them as they can cause skin, eye, and lung irritation, so you need to ensure that you wear protective gear such as thick gloves and face masks when handling them.

One of the biggest benefits of concrete stain is that it adds color to the concrete and when it’s been polished it will provide a very shiny floor that is especially advantageous indoors.

Of course, a drawback of this is that since stains are translucent, you can’t use them to conceal any of the flaws in the concrete. If your concrete floor is cracked or damaged in any way, it’s probably best to choose a concrete paint instead of a stain.  

What’s Concrete Paint? The Pros And Cons

plue paint for garage floor

You might consider purchasing a tub of concrete paint and calling it a day.

And why not?

A paint that’s suitable for concrete will not only cover it up but protect it from moisture and wear and tear.

You do need to ensure that you prepare the concrete before you apply the paint, though. This means that you need to clean it with degreaser to remove any grease and dirt, then use muriatic acid to remove any chemicals that are on the concrete.

It’s important to be really careful when working with muriatic acid as it’s very dangerous if you inhale it. After applying the acid, you need to use a primer-sealer to seal the concrete so that it’s resistant to moisture.

Once all that prep is done, you can go ahead and apply a concrete paint.

Concrete paints provide a decorative touch, and are suited to areas where the concrete needs sealing and protection – inside a garage, for example, where you want to conceal stained surfaces.

If you want to give your concrete floor more protection, then you should definitely choose a paint instead of a stain. The same goes for if your concrete floor is stained or cracked because it will enable you to hide all the concrete’s flaws.

Which One Is More Durable?

duration of garage floor coating

It’s good to know if concrete stain or concrete paint will last better over time, as you want to ensure that your paint job won’t fail you within a few months or even years.

Although concrete stain does tend to fade over time, using a sealer once you’ve applied the stain to the concrete can solve that problem. So, make sure you do that!

When it comes to paint, it can flake and peel if it hasn’t been properly applied. It’s essential to prepare the surface of the concrete before you apply the paint, such as with primer.

It’s clear to see that it’s important not to work too quickly and miss the steps you need to follow to ensure that your work will be of a high quality and last you for many years. It’s worth the effort to have beautiful garage floors for a long time.

What About Epoxy Paint?

An alternative to concrete stain and paint is epoxy paint. Let’s look at what it is, how it’s used, and what you need to know about epoxy paint vs. epoxy coatings.

Epoxy paint can be convenient to use for your garage floor because you don’t need to prime the concrete or seal it. Just make sure that the concrete is clean before you use the epoxy paint and go ahead!

Epoxy works well to give you a shiny floor and you can also find varieties of it that have a bit of color in them.

Epoxy paints are made of latex acrylic and they tend to have small amounts of epoxy in them. They provide a hard and durable coating for your floor.

The drawback to these paints is that you must apply all of the paint after you have added the catalyst, because once it hardens it becomes completely unusable and will go to waste.

How is epoxy paint different from epoxy coatings?

epoxy coating vs epoxy paint

There is some confusion between the terms epoxy paint and epoxy coatings. Some people use these two terms interchangeably, but they are different.

Now that we’ve understood what epoxy paints are, let’s look at what you need to know about epoxy coatings.

Epoxy coatings have two parts that need to be mixed before being applied: a resin and polyamine hardener. The result is either a tinted or clear surface. Mixing the two ingredients together starts a cross-linking of them, which results in a hard surface that will seal your concrete.

It’s also resistant to chemicals and stains. In some ways, epoxy coating is similar to resin, in that you add a catalyst to activate it. These products work best in areas with heavy traffic, such as garage or workshop floors.

Bottom line: While epoxy paint is easier to apply, it’s not as durable as the epoxy coating.

How Much Does Concrete Stain Vs. Paint Cost?

epoxy paint

When using concrete stain or paint to improve the look of your garage floor, you might consider getting it done by professionals.

The truth is that choosing to go the DIY route can save you some money, however there’s always the risk of not achieving the result that you want. If you want to get the job done by professionals, here’s what it will cost you:

For a concrete stain, it will cost between $2 and $4 per square foot if you opt for a basis staining job that will make use of one color and a sealant coat, while you’re looking at between $8 and $15 if you want your floor to have complex patterns (via Concrete Network).

When it comes to concrete paint, it costs approximately $4 per square foot. As for epoxy, you’re looking at paying approximately $15per square foot of application (via HowMuch).

If you choose to do the work yourself, you can expect to pay around $170 per 500 square feet for concrete stain. For concrete paint, you can expect to pay around $1.50 to $3 per square foot. 

While that gives you a general idea of the costs involved in coating your garage floors, there are some extra expenses that will creep into the picture. These include costs for repairs that you might have to do to your concrete, and this can be $5 per square foot.

Another expense involves concrete primer. This is especially important if your concrete has stains, such as from oils, and primer will ensure that the paint can stick to the concrete much more. Primer will cost approximately $4 per square foot.

Related Questions

Can you use concrete stain or paint outdoors?

outdoor concrete paint

You can use both concrete stain and concrete paint indoors and outdoors.

What are some benefits of painting your concrete floor?

Not only does it give it a new appearance, but painting your concrete floor can make it easier to clean and maintain.


If you want to refresh your garage’s concrete floor, you might consider using a stain or paint.

Which one is best for you?

In this article, we’ve looked at the pros and cons of each. We’ve also featured information about epoxy paint and epoxy coatings.

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