How to Stain a Concrete Retaining Wall

What You'll Need
Pressure washer
Pump sprayer
Etching solution for concrete
Concrete stain
Concrete sealer
Paintbrush roller
Concrete cleaner

If you have a concrete retaining wall on your property, you want to make it look as nice as possible. The concrete retaining wall is often a dull gray color or white washed, but you can stain it to be many other colors. The process to do so is relatively simple, but it does take time and specialized materials, some of which are potentially harmful. Follow the simple steps below to safely and effectively stain your concrete retaining wall.

Step 1 – Clean the Concrete

The stain has to penetrate and be absorbed by the concrete. If anything is on the surface of the concrete retaining wall, the stain will not be able to do this, and you will be left with a blotchy and uneven stain. The easiest way to clean off the concrete is to use a pressure washer. These can be rented from any hardware store for around $20, but their use is invaluable. Use plain water, and make sure you saturate the concrete. Inspect it for tougher areas, and hit it again where necessary.

Step 2 – Etch the Concrete

In addition to the surface of the concrete being clean for it to take stain, it also needs to be rough or somewhat textured. Concrete that is completely smooth and flat will have a hard time retaining the stain. If your concrete retaining wall is coarse,  you can skip this step; otherwise you will need to texturize the concrete. This is harder said than done as you will be using an etching solution, which is designed to eat away limestone found in the concrete and open the pores on the surface.

Apply the etching solution with a paint roller. Leave the chemical on the concrete for 30 to 60 minutes, and then rinse it with the power washer. Fill a bucket with water and a cup of concrete cleaner, and then sponge the wall down to neutralizes the solution. Let the wall dry for a day.

Step 3 – Stain the Concrete

Fill the pump sprayer with the stain of your choice, and make sure the nozzle is adjusted for a wide pattern. Begin working in one corner of the concrete retaining wall. When you apply the stain, do so in a naturally sweeping motion, circling back to the side and back out again. This creates a natural-looking stain. Once the surface of the concrete retaining wall remains looking wet, it is time to move to a new section being sure to slightly overlap the previous section.

Step 4 – Seal the Concrete

To give the concrete retaining wall more protection and a finished look, you can also seal the concrete. Do this after a day or two to give the stain time to dry. Use a paintbrush and apply the sealer as you would any other paint. When this coat dries, apply another coat.