How To Apply Floor Stain To Your Garage

How To Apply Floor Stain To Your Garage

If you want to uplift the quality and appearance of your garage, you might consider a floor coating.

A floor stain is an easy, effective one to try. 

What is garage floor stain?

This is a concrete stain that’s basically a translucent product which adds color to the floor. It dries quickly and can require less work than if you use paint

While it’s not going to conceal any cracks or damage in the concrete, a stain can be a great way to revive old concrete floors in your garage. Here’s how to apply it. 

Apply Floor Stain To Your Garage – Step By Step

Apply Floor Stain To Your Garage In Five Steps

One of the most important things you need to do before you stain your concrete floor is check that you can stain it – in other words, it might need prepping! This is especially important if the concrete is really old.

Make sure that the concrete doesn’t have contaminants on it that would interfere with the stain, such as sealers, waxes, paint, or oil.

To check that your concrete floor can absorb the stain you want to apply, pour a bit of water on it. If you see that the water soaks into the concrete, it can be stained. If you find that the water beads up on the concrete, you can still stain it but you’ll need to strip its sealer beforehand! 

How To Remove Sealer 

To remove sealer on your concrete before you go ahead and stain it, you’ll need to pour xylene on it and let it sit for half a minute. Then, scrub it with a stiff straw brush.

Use a painter’s shield to enable you to scrape the sealer into a pile. Pour more xylene on the surface and repeat the above steps. Once you have removed the sealer, you can prep the concrete floor by cleaning it properly. 

Eliminate Contaminants

Remove whatever other contaminants are in the concrete floor and which could interfere with the stain being applied properly.

So, if your concrete has paint stains, you’ll need a paint stripper to remove them. If there’s some glue on the concrete, you’ll need a heavy duty glue remover. To remove oil, use a degreaser. 

Use A Non-Residue Cleaner 

Once you’re removed any contaminants from the concrete, you should give it a general clean. Remove dirt with a non-residue cleaner. A stiff brush should be used to give it a good scrub. 

Apply The Acid

Now, if you’re applying an acid-based stain, you’ll need to first put muriatic acid on the concrete. You’ll need to mix one part of the acid with four parts of water in a plastic container.

Put some water on the concrete surface and then sprinkle the acid-water solution. You’ll see that it bubbles.

Let it work for about 30 minutes so that it neutralizes the concrete alkalinity (via DIY Network). Then you can use lots of water and a broom to clean it. Allow the concrete to dry for 48 hours. 

Apply The Stain 

Once you’re done with the acid and the concrete has dried properly, you can go ahead and apply the stain to your concrete floor.

Apply the stain with a roller or brush. If you want to add a second coat, you’ll have to wait 24 hours for the first coat to dry. 

Seal The Concrete Stain 

While you might be tempted not to use a sealer, you should because this will help to keep the acid-stained concrete in good condition.

You should apply a water-based sealer to the concrete after the concrete has dried properly. 

How to apply sealer to your stained concrete

  1. Pour the sealer into a paint pan. 
  2. With the use of a ¼-inch to 3/8-inch nap roller, you want to apply it to the concrete floor. 
  3. Make sure that the coats are thin and evenly distributed. You also need to ensure you apply one coat from the top to bottom, then allow it to dry before you apply it from left to right. 
  4. When you’re done, you might find that there are patches or blotches in the concrete. Don’t worry – you can apply more coats of the sealer to ensure the result is even and smooth. 
  5. However, avoid applying too much sealer. This can cause it to take on a milky appearance.
  6. Allow the sealer to cure for a day or two. 

How To Apply Water-Based Stain To Concrete

How To Apply Water-Based Stain To Concrete

Maybe you don’t want to work with acid and would prefer to use a water-based stain.

If so, you can easily apply a water-based concrete stain to your garage floor. Here’s what you need to do.  

  • Start by washing the concrete. Now, if the concrete has recently been set, then you can get away with rinsing it with a garden hose. If it’s been set ages ago, you will need to use a pressure washer so that there’s no dirt on it which can make the stain lose its quality. Once the concrete has dried properly, which will take 24 hours, you can then proceed with the next steps.
  • Mix your water-based stain product. This type of stain comes in a bottle or it can be in the form of powder, so you will need to mix it with water – how much depends on the instructions on the package.  
  • Once you have properly blended the water and stain, you want to spray it onto the concrete when applying it. You’ll need to use a back-and-forth motion and slow strokes to ensure that you apply it in a smooth and even way. 
  • When done, the concrete should be soaked well with this solution but you don’t want there to be any puddles on the floor.
  • The concrete stain will have to dry for about 12 hours. When that time is up, you can apply a second coat and then let it dry for 24 hours.
  • The last thing you’ll need to do to complete the process of staining your concrete is to apply a sealer. This will help to maintain the color of the stain. You can apply the sealer with a brush or sprayer, but always check the specific sealer product’s instructions. 
  • Once you’ve applied the sealer to concrete, make sure you leave it to dry and set properly for 24 hours. 

Should You Use Acid-Based Or Water-Based Stains?

Both types of concrete stains have their pros and cons. Let’s check them out according to some important factors to help you decide which one to use in your arbitrage. 


Acid-based stain doesn’t come with as many color variations and choices as compared to water-based stains. So, if adding color to your garage floor is most important to you, this could be a dealbreaker.

However, if you’re looking for a marbled or mottled effect on your concrete, acid-based stains are preferable as they produce this result. Water-based stains, on the other hand, will give you a more uniform color. 


If you worry about the safety of the stain you’re using on your concrete floor, you’ll probably want to choose a water-based concrete stain.

This is because acid-based stains contain more volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Water-based stains, on the other hand, contain less VOCs which does make them safer for indoor use.

Ease Of Application

The application of both acid- and water-based concrete stains will require preparing the concrete.

With the acid stain, however, you do need to ensure that you apply acid to the concrete beforehand. For this, you need to ensure you wear safety gear, which makes it a little less convenient. 

How Much Does Concrete Stain Cost? 

The cost of your concrete stain will vary quite a bit, depending on how much prep you have to do as well as how large your garage is.

However, applying one coat of stain to your concrete floor with minimal preparation beforehand will cost you approximately $2 to $4 per square foot (via Concrete Network). 

Related Questions 

Can you use acid- and water-based concrete stain on old concrete? 

Both stains can be used on old or new concrete without a problem (as long as you prep the concrete!).

In addition, you can use them for indoor and outdoor applications.

How should you maintain your concrete stain? 

Concrete stain is permanent but will wear away over time as the surface layer of the concrete gets worn down.

Make sure you protect it with a quality floor wax and clean it regularly with wet mopping – just make sure you use a neutral-pH cleaner. 


If you want to revive your garage concrete floor, you might consider staining it. There are two types of concrete stain you can use: a water-based or acid-based stain. 

In this article, we’ve provided you with the steps to follow to apply both stains. We’ve also looked at the differences between the two so you can choose the one that’s best for you and your garage.

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