How To Stain Stamped Concrete: You Can Do It Yourself!

There are some DIY projects that just seem so overwhelming that you just want to hire it out. Staining a worn-out stamped concrete driveway was one of those projects. My dear friend and old neighbor and I met up one day for a super spontaneous lunch. Over lunch we were catching up and she asked me what I was working on. I told her about a project with my favorite paint sprayer and she told me that the lack of a paint sprayer was what was holding her back from this DIY project she wanted to do. Really, it was almost more of an excuse because this project was going to take some time and seemed like something that should be left for the pros. But for some reason, that afternoon, we put our heads together and decided to try to tackle this concrete project together because what could go wrong? There is something about getting two women together that makes you think that you can conquer the world...or at least a big DIY project. 

The stamped concrete driveway leading up to her beautiful waterfront home had seen better days. At one point it had been stained but now it was looking pale and worn down. The stain seemed to have all come off. The project had been on her to-do list, but it seemed so overwhelming, so it kept getting pushed back.

We decided to tackle it together and I can't believe what a difference it made! What seemed like a job for a professional, was done by two women coming together to tackle a DIY project that really wasn't that difficult. It was kind of one of those, where do I start projects, which is why I'm sharing with you the how to, so that you can stain concrete like a pro!

before and after of unstained stamped concrete and how to stain it yourself

How to Stain Concrete

We started by pressure washing the driveway area that we would be staining. You want to make sure you get all the dirt and debris out of the stamped concrete cracks. 

Speaking of cracks, use a cement filler and patch any cracks and divots. Follow the directions on the package and leave plenty of dry time. Finally, prep your area with masking paper so that any over spray doesn't get on the surrounding areas. 

prepping your work space to stain stamped concrete

Finally, use a blower to blow off any remaining leaves and dirt so that your driveway or concrete work space is ready for the stain application.

While the concrete stain is easy to apply, you must make sure you carefully prep your surface or the stain will not adhere properly.

You can find concrete stain {this is similar} at your local paint store. We used SmartColor stain. You can find store locations near you here. SmartColor is not an acid. It is a water-based acrylic stain that is very forgiving. This is perfect for a novice DIY'er.

The local paint store offered up advice that was helpful. He told us to dilute the stain, 1 part stain to 3 parts water. He told us to ONLY USE DISTILLED WATER.  Hard water has a negative reaction with the stain. It sounds like chemistry and I didn't do well in that class, so I took his word for it.

We used a plastic bucket with a pour spout to mix the stain and the water together. You need an airless paint sprayer like my favorite HomeRight Super Max Paint Sprayer. Best part is this guy comes with 3 different nozzles and the blue one is made for stain.

Pour the stain into your spray container and get ready for action!

HomeRight paint sprayer and stain for concrete

We started out a little nervous on the application but quickly realized that as long as you were spraying a mist the whole thing was pretty fool proof!

It helped that we could see instant results!

We also found that it worked best with one of us spraying the paint on and the other following with a long handled roller to get a more consistent look. It also helped to push the spray into the stamped concretes cracks without me needing to stop with the paint sprayer to get in there.

I will confess, this was not a quick job! The both of us thought that it was going to take us an hour to spray it and then we would eat a leisurely lunch on the patio. That did not happen.

There was the intention of adding a secondary highlight coat to the stained concrete as well, however, the concrete was picking up stain in the more worn areas and gave off it's own highlights without another step to the process.

I had to leave to get home to kids after school and my friend was left applying the sealer on her own, but when I came back a few days later to see the completed project with the sealer on it, I did an audible gasp as I walked down the driveway.

What a difference it made!

I always like a reminder of what it looked like with a side by side image, so here you go!

You can see what a difference the sealer made. It allowed the stain color {licorice} to shine through and gave it a glossy finish. This is the sealer that was used to complete the project.

The sealer will eat through plastic, so you will need to get a metal rolling tray and use a roller to apply the sealer. 

Do not seal on a windy day. Leaves will blow and stick into the application until it is finished. 

Mini hand rollers are good to reach in tight spots, but you will also want a long-handled roller for the application as well. 

Look at the glossy shine! So much better than the dull pale color-less stamped concrete that was there before.

This DIY project was pretty empowering for both of us. Plus, it gave us a reason to spend the day together. While the supplies aren't cheap, it was far cheaper to attempt this DIY project on our own.

Like I said, the whole application process is pretty forgiving and can easily be done by a novice. You just might need a girlfriend to give you the confidence to tackle it though!

waterfront property on Fox Island near Gig Harbor, WA

Think this is a DIY you would tackle on your own? I want to hear about it if you do!

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Unknown said...

2 very ballsy women. It came out beautiful! Lovely home and the new driveway does it justice!!!!

Angela said...

This is absolutely stunning! Cheers to both of you. Love, love, love the can do attitude.

Unknown said...

I was inspired by your story so ordered the exact materials that you used and just finished our driveway & porch which is also stamped concrete that was badly faded and cracked. It turned out beautifully, just like yours did. I am so thrilled because we'd even looked into demolition and replacing the entire driveway. My husband and I did the project together and used 3 coats of the concrete stain and 2 of the sealer. I am hopeful that with the use of the sealer it will last a long time. It looks fantastic so thank you for all the details you provided and especially the inspiration!

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