How to Stain Interior Concrete Floors in 7 Easy Steps

How to Stain Interior Concrete Floors in 7 Easy Steps

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So let’s review my . . . 

5 Easy Steps on How to Stain Interior Concrete Floors

STEP 1 – Prep Your Floors & trim

You’ll likely want to remove the baseboard trim in your room if it’s touching the floor.

If it’s off the floor (like mine was due to there being the fake wood floor initially), you can just use painter’s tape to tape off the baseboards.

If you opt to remove it, use a pry bar to gently pull it away from the wall which should leave it intact and allow you to reattach rather than replace.

TIP: On a piece of painter’s tape, mark each board as to which wall it goes on.  If one wall has multiple boards, mark each section going left to right (ie: west wall section 1).

With baseboards done and the room empty of all furniture and/or appliances, now we need to sand the floor.  If your floors are near perfect and don’t have any excess residue, paint or other things that would make your floors look less than perfect you can skip the sanding.

I rented a floor sander from Home Depot.

This thing does kick up a lot of dust so I got sheets of plastic and tried to separate the rooms I was doing from the rest of the house and to hide the kitchen cabinets and countertops.

how to stain interior concrete floors Middle Class Dad plastic sheets up on the walls before sanding

TIP: Make sure you wear a dust mask or respirator and safety goggles!

You want the floors to be relatively smooth and to remove any sealer, glue or wax that could have been on there.

In my home, the original slab was obviously not totally level so they had used some kind of leveling compound.

This looks and feels similar to concrete but was rougher and applied in patches so it was easy to spot.  Know going into the process that this will not stain as dark as the rest of the concrete.

You can see some of the leveling compound on my floors in this shot.

how to stain interior concrete floors Middle Class Dad leveling compound showing

If it’s a thin layer you could scrape it off (it flakes up fairly easily) or in the staining concrete process, you could reapply stain to this part more than the rest of the floors.

But the beauty of stained concrete floors are the imperfections!

Just go through the entire room with the sander smoothly, evenly and a little slowly.  The sander I rented did come with a vacuum as part of it which did help with dust and as much dust as this kicks up, every little bit helps!

how to stain interior concrete floors Middle Class Dad floors sanded before cleaning

You’ll notice my stove there.

I did eventually move it before the staining process but since I knew that floor would never be seen and the rails to hold the range in place were attached to the concrete, I did not sand that area under it.

STEP 2 – Wash and dry your floors

Once your floors are sanded, you’ll need to thoroughly clean your floors. I started by vacuuming the excess dust first.

Here are my floors after washing, rinsing and being allowed to dry.

how to stain interior concrete floors Middle Class Dad floor prepped for stain

TIP: Also realize that the plastic sheets will have dust on them now too, so either wipe those down (before you vacuum the floors) or change them out so you don’t have excess dust falling onto your new beautiful stained concrete floors!

Once free of dust, you’ll want to mop the floors with a mixture of water and TSP (Tri-Sodium Phosphate).

That’s a big word, but it’s easy to find at places like Home Depot. This is just a mild cleaner/degreaser that is prepping the floors for the staining process.

I let it sit on the floors for 20 minutes and then began to scrub with a long-handled scrub brush before mopping it up.

TIP: If you rented that sander from Home Depot you can also use that with a scrubber pad to make the cleaning go faster.

Use a wet/dry vacuum to vacuum everything up.

You don’t want any TSP residue left so you’ll repeat the mopping process 2 or 3 times with just warm water to make sure the floors are totally clean.

TIP: If you find that when they textured the walls of your home they sprayed excess texture onto the concrete, this needs to come up but doesn’t come up easily.

I bought a long-handled scraper and also used paint remover to try and get as much of that up as possible.

The more you get up the better the results.

In some cases, contractors also spray paint words onto the floors as notes.

This doesn’t come up easily either, but you may also like the modern/industrial feel it creates also. If you do want to get it up a combination of paint remover and a power sander (again rented at Home Depot) can usually do the trick with some elbow grease!

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2 thoughts on “How to Stain Interior Concrete Floors in 7 Easy Steps”

    • Hi Yvonne

      Great question! Because I had laminate flooring that wasn’t glued or nailed down, I didn’t have that problem in my house.

      First, make sure you don’t use a product containing silicone (or any caulk-type product). It will just be way too obvious and won’t stain even close to the regular concrete.

      In researching, it looks like you can go one of 2 routes.

      One is to stain the floors as is and then fill in the divots afterward with a clear epoxy. Because the epoxy is clear the stain color will just show right through. You’d do this before applying sealer and wax. If you’re going this route, from what I’ve read, this product from Concrete Ressurection should work well.

      The other route would be to use a concrete patch product before you stain. You would vacuum the holes really well to ensure no loose bits are in there and then fill (be careful not to overfill) and then once it’s fully hardened, you’d continue with stain, seal, and wax. For that route, I would honestly buy 2 or 3 different ones and apply a small amount onto a piece of wood. Let them dry and then apply a little stain and see if one matches your floor color better than the others. Frawa makes one that looks like it would work well.

      The trick will be finding one that’s a fast set as if you use actual concrete you’ll need to let it cure 30 days before staining.

      In either case, I think the patches will be noticeable, but often the defects in concrete are part of the appeal.

      Send me a picture when it’s done. I’d like to see how it works out.



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