Outdoor Living Easy DIY Concrete Stain

Posted on Feb 20, 2014

Concrete stain before and after

A DIY Outdoor Living Upscale.

As you know if you read my profile, The Mister and I bought a major fixer-upper a couple of years ago.  We have been madly cleaning, hauling, weeding, etc., etc.  It’s been a lot of work. The only redeeming quality to the house was the front porch. It’s a small porch, but charming and comfortable, out of the elements with a lovely view for watching the world go by.  We often have coffee or an adult beverage there on the weekends or after a long day.  The only drawback to the front porch was the state of the concrete.  It had been stained twice with two different colors that had long since worn thin. So we decided it was time for a DIY concrete stain project to reseal the front porch since it’s a quick and easy (as well as relatively affordable) way to spruce up tired concrete.


Concrete stain half done with can


Our porch wasn’t just worn thin. One Halloween I tried a trick I saw on Pinterest with that glow-in-the-dark liquid that comes in glow sticks.  The photo showed eerily glowing liquid oozing down a driveway. So clever and creative! I poured some down the fronts of our steps like I had seen on the post.  Bad idea.  The liquid ate through whatever stain was left where I poured it by the next morning. Lesson learned: no matter what you see on Pinterest, do not cut glow sticks open! Not only was our concrete worn thin, now it had weird drippy marks down the front of the steps.  Not a good look.


Concrete stain before


It bugged me forever to come home to that awful looking porch, but with so many other more important improvements to make, we just finally got around to re-staining the porch.  Without equivocation I can say it was the quickest, easiest, most rewarding project we have done!  I was a bit reluctant at first because of the potential need to etch or whatever they say the multi-step process needs to be. In our case, it was a matter of a quick sanding and the application of the stain.


Concrete stain with Rustoleum can


The first coat goes on quickly and is very transparent. By the third coat, a rich, deep patina develops.


First coat

First coat


Concrete stain coat 3

Third coat.


Ta da! The finished stained concrete.

Concrete stained stairs


Probably the most time consuming part was trying to match what was already there since the original color looked great with the stacked stone walls.  Finding the wrong color was really easy!  I’ll save you the gory details and get right to what worked.

Here’s the Concrete Staining Process

1. Find the right color:  If you’re trying to match what’s already there, the only way to do it is to get a bunch of samples until you find one that is closest. Most concrete stains come in very limited colors so you may have to look outside the limited pallets. Paint, concrete stain, wood stain, whatever type of product doesn’t matter. Take your perfect sample to Dunn Edwards because they can color match solid (versus transparent) stains.  I found a wood stain color from a different paint company that was closest to our color and they nailed it!  Bingo!

2.  Start with a clean surface: We pressure washed our front porch to make sure all loose debris and dirt were gone for the most uniform application.

3. Sand the surface.  The Mister used and electric hand sander to rough up the concrete surface so the stain would sink in.  This is where some surfaces, especially if they have been sealed, need to be etched. Check with your local paint store to find out if you can bypass the etching process or test a small area (after it’s been sanded) with the stain.  If the stain soaks in, you’re good to go.

4. Be sure to clean the sanded areas. We pressure washed again and let the concrete dry.

5. Apply the stain to a small area at a time, adding as many coats as needed for the desired effect. The mister simply used a brush and applied a heavy coat of stain to about 1/3 of the porch at a time.  He let the stain sink in and then applied two more coats, allowing for dry time in between.

 6. Finish in small sections. We broke the front porch into three sections plus the stairs.

It is impossible to overstate how happy we are with the finished product!  It is such a pleasure to come home to a front porch that is clean and welcoming instead of an eyesore.  I could say I wish we’d done it sooner, but then I might have poured the glow stick goo on my beautiful newly stained concrete and messed it all up. So I guess waiting was better.

Since we re-stained the porch, it has become a little slice of heaven in a very big. overwhelming, not-so-good-looking project. Now when we sit on the front porch to watch the sunset we get to relax rather than be stressed by an the ugliness of an eyesore… and pretend that the whole house is done:0)

If you have a concrete area that is an eyesore, give concrete stain a try.  Then you’ll have your own little slice of heaven.




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