On this page:
- Estimating the Cost of Concrete Staining Projects
- What Are the Benefits of Staining Concrete?
- What Affects the Cost of Concrete Staining?
- How Does My Project Compare?
- Preparing for a Concrete Staining Project
- Cost Comparisons
- Level of Difficulty
- Find a Pro
Using stains and dyes to color a concrete surface is an excellent way to transform it from basic to beautiful. Whether to dress up a patio or retaining wall or to customize an interior floor or counter, staining provides flexibility and creative options that can’t be rivaled with paint or floor coverings. There are several details that influence the cost of concrete staining, from the size and nature of the job to the type of stains used and the level of detail in the design.
Estimating the Cost of Concrete Staining Projects
How Do Pros Price the Work?
The size of a project is one of the main determinants of the design cost. It may cost a few hundred dollars to design a small project with a few plants and several thousand to design one with multiple plants, rocks and hardscape features.
Qualifications of Designer
Unlike the installation of concrete, which is typically priced by volume, staining and other finishes are usually priced according to surface area. So, while a pro may charge by the cubic yard for forming and pouring your new patio, staining the surface will probably be charged by the square foot. It’s common to pay between $2 and $5 per square foot for basic finishes, from $4 to $12 for more advanced techniques, and $15 or more per square foot for highly customized or detailed projects. In any case, a lot of pros charge a minimum fee for each job, so if your project is on the small side, you may pay $500 or more regardless of the details you choose.
In order to effectively stain concrete, the surface must be thoroughly prepared for the products to adhere, absorb, or alter the material as appropriate. Though specific techniques may vary with the type of stain used, concrete must be free of sealants or adhesives, thoroughly cleaned, and etched or ground before any colorants can be applied. Depending on the desired effect, stain may be applied in stages and allowed to dry before sealing the surface to protect the finish. The condition of your concrete surface and the level of detail and number of colors in your design will influence the choice of materials for all phases of the job, from prep, to staining, to sealing.
What are the Benefits of Staining Concrete?
An Economical Upgrade
Staining is an economical option for creating a finished floor from a concrete subfloor. With a basic project costing around $3 per square foot in most places, staining your concrete may be an affordable alternative to installing flooring.
A Lasting Finish
Since most stains and dyes either react with concrete or are absorbed by it, the color change they provide is permanent. Since concrete on its own is exceptionally durable, a stained surface should stand up to anything you can dish out and last indefinitely. Surface sealants help protect the finish from wear and stains, but may need to be reapplied periodically.
A Distinctive Look
Stains or dyes will be selected according to the range of colors needed, whether the surface will be exposed to the elements, and the type of sealant or polishing used after staining is complete. Each type of colorant has features that create a unique look, making it possible for a pro to create virtually any finish, whether a solid color, a pattern that mimics tile or pavers, a variegated color wash, or a hand-painted artistic design. Water-based stains bond to concrete to provide uniform, opaque coloring, while acid stains react chemically with concrete to provide a marbled, translucent look. Solvent and water-based dyes are often used when more control of color or working time is required.
What Affects the Cost of Concrete Staining?
Size and Scope of the Job
Size always matters when it comes to home improvement projects, but the level of service involved is significant, too. On many decorative projects like concrete staining, the price per square foot often drops as the size of the work site increases, but that generally depends on the amount of work involved and the features of the job. While it’s typically more cost effective to apply a single color to a large area than to a small one, there may not be any time or overhead savings for a pro who is applying a custom multi-colored design to a larger area.
Materials and Techniques
While there are several options for concrete stains and dyes, much of the cost of concrete staining stems from the labor aspect of the job. The work is time-consuming and a great deal of skill is required for applying advanced techniques, such as saw cutting the concrete surface, custom mixing colors, and designing and utilizing original art or stencils. Since your pro will have several days tied up in a higher-end job, labor costs could comprise 60 to 80 percent of the total bill.
How Does My Project Compare?
In addition to the local cost of labor for skilled pros that provide concrete staining services, the availability of providers may affect the cost of the job. Depending on the application and complexity of your project, you might need a concrete contractor or flooring installer, a painter, or an artisan to bring your vision to life. If you live in a dense area with numerous skilled pros, you’re likely to benefit from competitive pricing. But, if your market has a limited pool of qualified pros, you’ll pay a premium to find someone who may have to travel a long distance to your job or who has high demand and a tight schedule.
The secret to success for almost every project is proper preparation, and concrete staining is no exception. The process can be fairly simple on new, unsealed concrete, but can be time-consuming and labor intensive on a surface that was previously sealed or covered, is rough, has staining or surface residue, or is not level and uniform. The amount of work needed to get your concrete in shape will affect the bottom line; your pro may include standard prep work in his square foot rate, but if the work promises to be unusually labor-intensive, you may have to pay on a time and materials basis for that part of the job.
The sky is the limit for design and color options on a concrete staining project, but the more intricate the job is, the more it will cost. Laying out designs, saw cutting, masking, and custom mixing colors takes considerably more time than spraying or rolling a single color over an entire surface. Stepping your design up a notch or applying it to an area with several corners or a complex layout will likely add at least 50 percent to the cost of the job. Implementing a highly customized design or applying an advanced technique to a large area could cost several times more than laying down a basic finish.
Preparing for a Concrete Staining Project
No matter where you live, be sure to request estimates from multiple pros. Comparison shopping gives you the chance to find out what is typical for your area and choose a provider who fits your budget, but also lets you discuss the job with different pros and get their recommendations. You might be surprised to find a great rate for more advanced work from a specialist, since their level of experience enables them to complete the work faster than someone with less experience. Be sure to compare estimates on equal footing; pay attention to what is and is not included in each one, such as prep work, sealing, polishing, etc.
Prep the Site
The surface prep requirements for your project will depend on the age, features, and condition of the concrete, but even if you can’t clean and etch the surface to the pro’s specifications, there are steps you can take to make the job go smoother and faster for them. If you can, remove furnishings, existing flooring, adhesive, fasteners, and other debris before the pros show up to prevent delays and save on labor charges. If you can’t handle this part of the job on your own, be sure to line up a handyman or other pro ahead of time so your staining project isn’t slowed down.
Plan Ahead for Down Time
It may take several days to complete your concrete staining project. Since you may not be able to walk on stained floors or reinstall furniture in the meantime, be sure to check with your pro to know the expected timeline for the job and plan ahead for accessibility or storage problems that may arise.
|$1,300 - $2,500||$3,200 - $5,200||$7,500 - $12,500|
The features of the site and the demands of the job can have a lot of influence on the overall cost of concrete staining. Our examples illustrate how the details make a difference on the cost of staining a 500 square foot floor.
Economical Upgrade: $1,300 - $2,500
- • Preparation: Basic cleaning and etching make prep a breeze for this job, keeping labor costs on the low end.
- • Complexity: All 500 square feet of this job are in one open area, making it easy to navigate.
- • Design: A single application of acid stain gives dramatic results with a minimal investment of time.
Making a Statement: $3,200 - $5,200
- • Preparation: In order to provide a suitable surface after the removal of carpet, more extensive cleaning with chemical strippers is required.
- • Complexity: This floor project spans two rooms. Extra corners and transition points make the job a bit more complex than working in a single space.
- • Design: Adding saw cuts and a second application of color steps this project up a couple of levels. The results are impressive, but the job calls for more time and skill than a basic application.
Fully Custom Overhaul: $7,500 - $12,500
- • Preparation: In addition to basic cleaning, this job calls for grinding to create a uniform surface for the finished floor and to give more predictable results.
- • Complexity: The work on this job is confined to a single great room, but has a complex layout with multiple angles and corners.
- • Design: This project is a custom design intended to mimic a tile inlay using multiple colors. Planning and applying the design takes much longer than a standard application and calls for an experienced hand.
Level of Difficulty
Staining concrete requires skill and elbow grease, may involve handling hazardous materials, and is a permanent process. A basic stain application is a good project for an advanced do-it-yourselfer, but considerable skill is required to develop intricate patterns, make flawless cuts, and effectively blend colors. A pro with the right expertise and tools can transform a drab concrete surface into an incredible showpiece, making it worth the investment hire out the job.
Concrete Staining Services
If you’re ready to find a pro to stain your floor, patio, or other concrete surface, be sure to meet with several to discuss the job and request estimates. A qualified concrete staining pro can let you know what preparation, materials, and techniques will be necessary to achieve the finish you have in mind, and should have a portfolio to share that demonstrates their skills and talent.