Make dirty, old concrete sidewalks look beautiful again by staining them. It's an affordable DIY that can change the look of all your outdoor concrete. If you can paint, you can stain concrete. It's not costly material-wise, but it does cost time. Be prepared to spend at least two days working on your sidewalks and concrete areas; at a minimum, the project will take this long. Try to choose a warm day with very little wind for the first phase of your project.
Step 1 - Sweep and Clean Your Concrete
First, sweep all debris off of your concrete. Remove as much dirt and debris as possible to make the next steps easier to complete. If you’re working on a day with little wind, it should be fairly easy to get the area clean.
Use a stiff wire brush to get into the grooves of the sidewalk and remove all surface dirt. Move the brush in a circular pattern to scrub all the grime away. Next, wash the sidewalk with a sponge and plain soap and water. Treat stains with chemical degreasers if needed. Dirt and stains will show through, and could compromise the look of your finished project. Finish cleaning the concrete with a strong, powerful spray from a hose. Thoroughly wet it down and remove all soap. Take a break, and wait for the sidewalk to dry before moving on to the next step.
Step 2 - Choose a Stain
How old is the concrete? If it’s less than 6 months old, a water-based concrete stain will work just fine. Otherwise, you want to use a formula that’s acid-based. Wear gloves and a face mask at all times when handling your stain.
Step 3 - Stain the Concrete
Mix well and pour the stain into a standard paint tray. Apply it directly to the concrete using a well-soaked paint roller. Saturate the concrete thoroughly, cracks too, to properly apply the stain. Some stain can be applied with a garden hose, which is useful if you’re working on a large area such as a patio or driveway.
Step 4 - Cover
Use a tarp to cover your freshly-painted stain; otherwise, debris will get into it and ruin the finish. Tamp the tarp down with stakes at the corners and along the edges.
Step 5 - Seal the Finish
Wait at least 24 hours before removing the tarp. Apply another coat of stain if needed, and allow it to dry as well. When all the staining is done, paint a coat of clear sealer on top of the stain to protect it.
Staining concrete is an affordable way to make sidewalks and outdoor areas look new and fresh again. If you’ve got the time to spend, you won’t have to pay a lot to make all your outside areas look a whole lot better. Relatively inexpensive materials and easy-to-learn techniques make this a DIY that just about anyone can tackle.