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How to Stain Concrete Floors

Today I am sharing how to stain concrete floors, the good the bad, and the ugly!

Finally, it’s done!  From the moment we walked through this house when shopping for a new home I knew that this ugly brown carpet had to go.  I didn’t want to just replace it with carpet, I have 2 teenagers and they are as messy as toddlers!  

We were looking for something durable and beautiful, but also something that would not break the bank.  In the local Parade of Homes, many of the houses had stained concrete basement floors and I fell in love with the idea.  

*This post contains affiliate links. For more details see my full disclosure.


I researched different products and decided to go with Rust-oleum’s Epoxy Shield product line.  Let’s go into the details on how to stain concrete floors.


How to Stain Concrete Floors

This project was on the to-do list but it got moved up to the top when my dog developed a ph imbalance in her bladder. She started using this room as her own personal bathroom. Yeah, not cool.

The basement smelled so bad that we had to do something, FAST! So we did a bunch of research and found the right products and got to work.

Remove carpet

The first thing you want to do is pull up the carpet you are replacing.  

Before you start check with your local trash company and find out what dimensions the carpet rolls need to be. For example, my trash company said no more than 4 feet long and 2 feet thick.  

Make sure you have a new, sharp utility blade and start cutting in long strips, roll them up and tape the rolls closed with duct tape.  Continue until you have all the carpet up then do the same thing with the padding.  

To remove tack strips take a pry bar and hammer the straight end under the nails, you don’t need to pry.  The nails should come out of the concrete with the vibrations of the pounding.  

Definitely wear safety goggles!  Sometimes those nails go flying in the air so make sure you protect your eyes.

Tools you need to remove carpet, padding and tack strips.
This is the ugly brown carpet that we will be removing and my dog who is the reason why we have to remove it.

The picture above shows the old brown carpet and the culprit who decided to ruin it!  HAHA!  I can’t be mad at her though, she’s too cute and such a good cuddler!

Cutting up the carpet in manageable strips and rolling it for the trash.

The work in progress above….one down many to go!

Remove Carpet Pad Glue and Patch Holes

 Make sure you have heavy-duty gloves for this step.

I used this adhesive remover which was no joke!  Follow the directions on the product you use but make sure you have your skin protected and good ventilation.  

The smell was pretty bad I won’t lie, and a couple of times I got a drop on my skin…..not fun.  But I will say this stuff worked like magic!  

I was able to pour it down, spread it with a cheap paintbrush and after 30 minutes it scrapped right up.  I used a scraper that I had from an old wallpapering kit (from the 80’s 😳, please no judging 😂)

Glue residue left on the concrete floor after removing carpet padding.

Above you can see the glue that I had to get up and the holes along the baseboard that I needed to fill.

I used Rust-oleum’s concrete patch to fill in all those holes left by the tack strips and a couple of large holes that were in the middle of the room.

Rustoleum's concrete patch which I used to fill the holes left behind by the tack strips.

Etch the concrete

This step is necessary only if you have concrete floors that have never been painted or stained before.  If they have then you don’t need to do this step.  

First, clean the floor!  Make sure there is no debris, no leftover residue from the adhesive remover.  This step takes time.  

What you do is mix the etch in a watering can with water and work in small sections.  Wet the floor with a mop, spread the etching solution, then using a stiff-bristled broom scrub.  

You will see bubbling, that’s good!  It’s working!!!!  Once it’s done bubbling mop it up and move to the next section.  When you are done mop the floor three more times…..yep that’s what I said….three more times!

Rustoleum Epoxy Shield Etching Powder

Stain the concrete

This is the fun step because you see results!  

Mix the activator with the color you chose and the nonslip material.  Stir for a couple of minutes, or whatever the package says to activate everything.  As always follow the directions on the product.  

Work in small sections with a roller on an extension pole.  Put a bag on the roller and rubber band it, this creates texture and it should have been included in the kit.  

Make sure you work quickly!  This product only lasts about 90 minutes after activating and then it gets really thick, take my word for it.  I was pushing that 90-minute mark hard.  Make sure you wear gloves on this step as well, protect that skin!

Almost halfway done staining the concrete floor, the roller I used and the paint tray laying on the floor.

Rust-Oleum’s Epoxy Shield kit

Rust-oleum's Epoxy Shield kit which I used to stain my concrete floors.

Rust-Oleums concrete stain additive in Charcoal

Stain Additive for staining concrete by Rustoleum that I used in charcoal color.

How to Stain Concrete Floors Tips and Tricks

I used plastic sheeting on the bottom foot of the walls to protect them during the etching and staining process.  Boy was I very happy I did this because I splashed a lot of water upon the walls.

Will most likely want to install some shoe molding or quarter round because there will be a gap between the concrete and the baseboards where the carpet used to be.

I could have removed the baseboards and installed them lower but then I would have to paint the wall where the baseboards used to be. It seemed easier to just add some quarter round or shoe molding.

I get asked a lot if you can stain their concrete floors in their garage and the answer is yes!  To be honest, I am thinking of doing the same thing.  

Stained Concrete Floors withe the added shoe molding to cover the gap from where the carpet used to be.

UPDATE: Since staining my concrete floors I have also installed Built-ins for storage and created a reclaimed look wood wall. This room went from my teenagers hang out space to my office/den space since I work from home, and the kids are in college now. Here is a look of the room with the changes I have made and how they look with the stained floor.

A view of my stained concrete floors with my white DIY built-ins and a fiddle leaf fig tree in a basket.
My office den space with stained concrete floors in gray, white built-ins and my desk near the sliding doors.

I am proud to say is this basement floor project cost me less than $250 with the additional molding and thresholds included.  That’s a lot better than hiring a professional who would charge me thousands!  And I think it looks pretty good and I am pretty darn proud of what I have done!

Related Floor Posts You Might Like:

How to Stain Concrete Floors pin for Pinterest.

As a licensed Real Estate Agent and an avid home decorator, I strive to give my clients the very best I can when it comes to staging, selling, and decorating their homes. I have lots of experience with paint color choices and love to DIY my home so I can have everything just the way I want it. I share my ideas and projects with the world in the hopes that I can help others have their homes just the way they want as well.

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Wednesday 3rd of January 2024

If your concrete floors were painted previously does that have to be removed prior to staining?

Wendy Duffy

Thursday 4th of January 2024

Hi Tara. I would check the manufacturers recommendations on that. It might say in the directions for the stain.


Wednesday 20th of December 2023

Now that it has been several years, how are they holding up?

Wendy Duffy

Friday 22nd of December 2023

hi Robbie. This is a low traffic space and after several years it's still looks great! I get a lot of compliments on it too. I am very happy I did this project. Thanks for stopping by!


Tuesday 9th of May 2023

I have been looking to do something different for our floor for awhile. Everything is super expensive. This is a great option. Our floor has never been sealed or polished. It has a rough finish. (1950's home) Do I need etch? What is the purpose of the etching process? Thanks! Carolyn


Wednesday 24th of May 2023

Hi Carolyn. You will still need to etch even if your floor hasn't been sealed or polished. Think of it as primer before paint. It will help the finish adhere better. Good luck!


Friday 21st of April 2023

We were planning on just polishing our concrete floors in our new modern home. But now I really want to stain them. My question is do you stain, then polish, then seal them or just stain and seal?


Wednesday 26th of April 2023

Hi Vanessa! I think it depends on what product you choose. With the one I purchased it was stain and seal. Just check out the manufacturers directions.


Monday 13th of March 2023

Wow you’ve inspired me. Do you have to etch?

And also how long did it take :)


Monday 13th of March 2023

Hi Jazz. Yes you do have to etch otherwise the stain won't adhere to the concrete. It doesn't take long, the whole thing was about an hour. The product gets hard to use after too much time.

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