Is Paint or Stain Better for Concrete?

When it comes to coloring your concrete for a makeover in appearance, there are two main options or methods that you can choose: paint or stain.

It’s pretty obvious what painting the concrete is, you get some paint (of the color of your choosing) and you apply it onto the concrete, giving it a surface layer of color.

Acid staining, you might not know as much about, but it is essentially a finishing technique used on concrete that uses the staining product to permeate the surface of the concrete, being absorbed, so that the concrete is permanently stained in the color of your choosing.


But what is better? Paint or stain? What is most commonly used? Well, let’s dive into all of the main differences, and the pros and cons of both methods, and you can decide the winner for yourself!

When you paint concrete, you are only covering the surface with a layer of paint.

This will have an opaque appearance, so the concrete itself is essentially completely hidden from view, and the layer of paint is what you see. This allows for a larger range of vibrant colors that you can choose from.

Plus, having that coating of paint on top of the concrete adds a layer of protection from weather conditions and other factors, so it can help keep the concrete from getting damaged.

If applied correctly, the paint can last a pretty long time, and it will also hide any previous imperfections that the concrete had, as it will be hidden from view. So paint is a pretty solid option!

When you stain concrete, on the other hand, the acid stain product fully permeates the pores of the concrete, rather than just staying on the surface.

This will stain the concrete itself, so that it becomes the chosen color, although the color will not be covering or hiding it from view, so the effect will be slightly more translucent, and the concrete will simply become a shade of the chosen color, with the exact color depending on the concrete and the circumstances.

This means that no two concrete floors stained in the same color will look the same.

The main advantage of using paint is that it will have a more visible effect over the concrete, and it gives a more solid appearance of your choosing.

But if you stain your concrete, the effect is permanent, and you don’t have to worry about it eventually fading or peeling off, because the stain is part of the concrete instead of being a layer over the surface.

So, which is better? Well, there are arguments for and against both methods, so it ultimately depends on your preference, and on the end result that you want to achieve for the appearance and maintenance of your concrete.

Can I stain concrete that has been painted?

Let’s say that you have decided you want to stain your concrete, but it turns out that your concrete has already been painted, so it has been painted over the surface.

Can you still stain it? Or will the paint mean that staining the concrete is not viable?

Well, unfortunately for you, this would mean that you cannot stain the concrete, and for a very simple reason.

When a concrete surface has been painted, the paint forms a layer over the surface of the concrete, which can then also be sealed or not for extra protection and durability.

When you stain concrete, it is important that you apply the product straight onto the concrete, as you need the stain to permeate the concrete material so that it absorbs the color permanently.

If the concrete surface is painted, then the stain cannot reach the concrete itself, because the layer of paint is in the way.

So if you wanted to stain a concrete surface that is painted, you would first have to strip away and remove all of the paint, so that the staining product can actually reach and react with the concrete surface directly.

Can you color cement with paint?

When you paint a surface, you are essentially adding a layer of color to it. Cement can be painted without any problems, so the answer to this is yes. You can color cement with paint!

In fact, the most common and easiest way to color cement is to use paint, as the paint is very easy to apply. And as paint is added as an opaque layer on top of the surface, it can be done in any color whatsoever, with amazing results!

The best type of paint to use for cement is acrylic paint.

You can also use a suitable primer beforehand, to make sure the paint adheres perfectly, and you could then also finish the job by adding a sealer on top to protect the paint from coming away too soon.

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