Can You Use Wood Stain on Concrete?

Last Updated on October 14, 2023 by Ernest Godia

When it comes to enhancing the appearance of concrete surfaces, most people think of paint or concrete stains. But can you use wood stain on concrete to make it look like a hardwood floor? 

Wood stain is primarily designed for wood surfaces, which it penetrates and enhances to look more appealing and vibrant. But if you love the appearance of natural wood, can you stain concrete to look like wood?  

This article explores the possibilities of using wood stain on concrete, the factors to consider, and the steps involved.

About Wood Stain

As the name suggests, wood stain is a pigmented liquid that enhances wood surfaces’ natural color and grain. It penetrates deep into the wood, creating a long-lasting and durable color change. 

By occupying the pores in the wood, stains can seal the wood, making it resistant to water damage. 

Recommended read: Types of wood stains, homemade or commercial?

Can you use wood stain on concrete?

Contrary to its name, wood stain can be used on concrete surfaces as well. However, it is important to note that the results may vary compared to using wood stain on wood. Concrete has a different texture and porosity, which affects how the stain adheres and absorbs. 

Therefore, using wood stain on concrete requires careful consideration and proper preparation to achieve satisfactory results.

Factors to Consider When Using Wood Stain On Concrete

Before applying wood stain on concrete, there are several factors to consider:

1. Porosity of the Concrete

Concrete surfaces vary in porosity, with some being more porous than others. The porosity determines how well the stain penetrates and bonds with the surface. 

If the concrete is too smooth or has been sealed previously, the stain may not be able to penetrate effectively, resulting in an uneven finish.

2. Condition of the Concrete

The concrete condition plays a crucial role in the success of applying wood stain. If the concrete is damaged, cracked, or uneven, it may affect the overall appearance of the stained surface. 

Before proceeding with the staining process, any necessary repairs or leveling should be done.

3. Desired Look and Color

Consider the desired look and color you want to achieve on the concrete surface. 

Wood stain offers a wide range of colors, including natural wood tones and vibrant hues. Consider the existing surroundings and the overall aesthetic you wish to create.

4. Longevity and Maintenance

Wood stain on concrete may require periodic maintenance, such as reapplication or sealing. Consider the level of maintenance you are willing to commit to and choose a stain that offers the desired longevity.

How to Prepare Concrete for Wood Stain

To ensure the best results when using wood stain on concrete, follow these preparation steps:

Step 1. Clean the Concrete Surface

Thoroughly clean the concrete surface to remove dirt, debris, or existing coatings. Use a pressure washer or scrub brush with mild detergent to achieve a clean and bare surface. Rinse off the cleaning solution and allow the concrete to dry completely.

Step 2. Test the Wood Stain

Before applying the wood stain on the entire surface, performing a small area test is recommended. 

Apply the stain on a small inconspicuous area and observe the color and absorption. This test will give you an idea of how the stain will react to your concrete surface.

Step 3. Protect Surrounding Areas

Cover any adjacent areas, such as plants, furniture, or walls, to prevent accidental staining. Use plastic sheeting or drop cloths to create a barrier between the stained surface and surrounding elements.

Step 4. Apply a Concrete Sealer (Optional)

Consider applying a concrete sealer before applying the wood stain for enhanced durability and protection. 

The sealer acts as a barrier, preventing moisture penetration and providing a smoother surface for the stain to adhere to. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the appropriate application method.

Requirements for applying wood stain on concrete

How to Apply Wood Stain on Concrete

Once the preparation steps are complete, you can apply wood stain on the concrete surface. 

But first, ensure you gather all the required materials for the task. These include some or all the items on the following list: 

  • Wood stain
  • Concrete cleaner 
  • Applicator (paint roller/brush)
  • Personal protective gear (gloves, mask, protective clothing)
  • Clean cloth or rags

Procedure for Applying Wood Stain on Concrete Surfaces 

Once you have assembled all the requirements, follow the steps below to complete the project. But first, ensure you wear your protective gear to protect your lungs and skin from the fumes and chemicals used. 

Step 1. Stir the Stain

Thoroughly stir the wood stain to ensure an even distribution of pigments and color.

Step 2. Apply the Stain

Apply the wood stain evenly on the concrete surface using a brush, roller, or sprayer. Work in small sections to ensure consistent coverage. Avoid overlapping strokes to prevent uneven coloration.

Step 3. Allow Adequate Absorption Time

After applying the stain, allow it to penetrate and absorb into the concrete for the recommended time specified by the manufacturer. This duration may vary depending on the product and desired color intensity.

Step 4. Wipe off the Excess Stain

Once the absorption time has elapsed, use a clean cloth or rag to wipe off any excess stain on the surface. This step helps to achieve a more natural and uniform appearance.

Step 5. Repeat the Process (If Desired)

You can repeat the application process if you desire a darker or more vibrant color. Allow the stain to dry between each application and assess the color before applying another coat.

Finishing and Sealing Wood Stain on Concrete 

To protect the wood stain on the concrete and enhance its longevity, it is recommended to apply a concrete sealer as a finishing touch:

  • Wait for Drying

Allow the stained surface to dry completely before applying the sealer. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding drying times.

  • Apply the Sealer

Apply the concrete sealer evenly on the stained surface using a brush or roller. Ensure complete coverage and follow the recommended number of coats.

Here is a video illustrating how to apply a sealer on concrete surfaces after applying wood stain:

  • Allow Curing Time

After applying the sealer, allow it to cure according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This curing period ensures that the sealer fully bonds and provides maximum protection to the wood stain.

It is also the time to clean the tools used to apply the wood stain and sealer. Read how to clean wood stains off the brush.

Can You Apply Wood Stain Over Sealed Concrete?

Applying wood stain on sealed concrete is possible, but you should never do it. Doing so is not recommended because the stain applied on the sealed concrete will likely not adhere properly, ultimately flaking off.

Therefore, consider removing the existing sealer before staining the concrete. Alternatively, apply a thin coat of acrylic polymer-modified concrete on the sealed surface before using a wood stain on the sealed concrete. Once done, allow the fresh layer to dry for 24 hours before applying the wood stain.

Maintenance Tips for Wood Stain On Concrete 

To maintain the appearance and longevity of wood stain on concrete, follow these tips:

  1. Regularly clean the stained surface using mild detergent and water.
  2. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners that can damage the stain.
  3. Periodically inspect the surface for any signs of wear or damage and perform necessary touch-ups.
  4. Reapply the sealer as the manufacturer recommends to maintain protection against moisture and UV rays.
  5. Use mats or rugs in high-traffic areas to minimize wear and tear on the stained surface.

Advantages of Using Wood Stain on Concrete

Using wood stain on concrete offers several advantages, including the following:

  • Enhanced Aesthetics: Wood stain provides a warm and natural appearance to concrete surfaces, mimicking the look of wood.
  • Versatile Color Options: Wood stain comes in a wide range of colors, allowing for customization and flexibility in design.
  • Cost-Effective Solution: Wood stain is often more affordable than other decorative options for concrete surfaces.
  • Longevity: When properly maintained, wood stain can provide long-lasting and durable results on concrete.

Drawbacks of Using Wood Stain on Concrete

Despite its advantages, there are also some disadvantages to consider when using wood stain on concrete:

  • Varying Results: The outcome of wood stain on concrete can be unpredictable due to differences in surface texture and porosity.
  • Maintenance Requirements: Wood stains on concrete may require periodic reapplication and maintenance to preserve their appearance.
  • Limited Surface Options: Not all concrete surfaces are suitable for wood stain, particularly those that are highly sealed or extremely porous.

Removing Previous Stain on Concrete

Removing the previous stain on concrete is an essential step to ensure a clean and even surface for applying new wood stain. While it may take some elbow grease, following the right methods will help you achieve the desired results. 

Here are the steps to remove the previous stain on the concrete:

  1. Prepare the area: Clear the surrounding area and ensure proper ventilation. Use drop cloths or plastic sheets to protect nearby surfaces from any chemicals or debris.
  2. Assess the stain: Determine the type of stain on the concrete. Different stains may require specific removal methods. Common types of stains include oil-based stains, water-based stains, or acid stains.
  3. Choose an appropriate removal method: Select the most suitable method based on the type of stain. Here are a few common methods:
    • Chemical stain removers: These products are specifically designed to break down stains and lift them from the concrete surface. Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer and wear appropriate protective gear, including gloves and goggles, when using them.
    • Pressure washing: This method utilizes high-pressure water to remove surface-level stains. It is effective for lighter stains and general cleaning. Adjust the pressure washer to an appropriate setting to avoid damaging the concrete surface.
    • Mechanical methods: For stubborn stains or thicker coatings, mechanical methods such as sanding, grinding, or shot blasting may be necessary. These methods involve using specialized equipment to remove the stain or coating physically.
  4. Apply the chosen method: Follow the instructions specific to the chosen removal method. For chemical stain removers, apply the product evenly on the stained area and let it sit for the recommended time. Use a scrub brush or pressure washer to agitate the stain and help with the removal process. For mechanical methods, carefully operate the equipment, ensuring proper safety precautions.
  5. Rinse and clean the surface: Rinse the concrete surface with clean water after the stain has been loosened or removed. Use a scrub brush or broom to remove any remaining residue. Allow the surface to dry completely before proceeding.
  6. Assess the results: Inspect the concrete surface for any remaining traces of the previous stain. If necessary, repeat the removal process or try alternative methods until the desired results are achieved.
  7. Surface preparation for new stain: Once the previous stain has been successfully removed, it is crucial to prepare the concrete surface to apply a new stain. Clean the surface thoroughly, removing any dust, debris, or contaminants. Follow the instructions provided with the new stain product to ensure proper adhesion and optimal results.

FAQs on Using Wood Stain on Concrete 

Here are some popular questions regarding the use of wood stain on concrete surfaces:

Does wood stain work on concrete?

Yes, wood stain works on concrete surfaces as long as the proper surface prep is done and the right application procedure is followed when applying the stain to the concrete substrate. Concrete is porous, which allows it to absorb wood stains, coloring it. 

Can wood stain be used on concrete for outdoor applications?

Yes, wood stains on concrete can be used for both indoor and outdoor applications. However, outdoor applications may require more frequent maintenance due to exposure to weather conditions.

How long does wood stain last on concrete? 

The longevity of wood stain on concrete depends on various factors such as the quality of the stain, surface preparation, and maintenance. With proper care, it can last for several years.

Can I apply wood stain on colored or stamped concrete? 

It is possible to apply wood stain on colored or stamped concrete, but the existing color and texture may influence the final result. It is recommended to perform a small area test before applying it to the entire project.

Can I use wood stain on concrete countertops? 

Wood stain is not typically recommended for concrete countertops due to the high exposure to water, heat, and potential staining agents. It is better to use a specialized concrete countertop stain or dye for this purpose.

Can I remove wood stains from concrete if I’m not satisfied with the results? 

Removing wood stain from concrete can be challenging. It is recommended to test the results on a small, inconspicuous area before proceeding to the entire project. The results of this test will help you manage your expectations better. 

Can I use bleach to remove wood stain from concrete? 

Bleach is not recommended for removing wood stain from concrete as it may discolor or damage the surface. It’s best to use stain-specific or natural stain-removal methods.

How long does it take to remove wood stain from concrete? 

The time required to remove wood stains from concrete depends on various factors, such as the depth of the stain and the chosen removal method. It may take several attempts and some patience to achieve the desired results.

Will power washing alone remove wood stain from concrete? 

Power washing alone may not completely remove wood stain from concrete, especially if it has deeply penetrated the surface. Combining power washing with other stain removal methods, such as scrubbing or sanding, can yield better results.

Is it necessary to apply a concrete sealer after removing the wood stain? 

Applying a concrete sealer is not mandatory but recommended as it adds a protective layer to prevent future staining and enhances the concrete’s durability.

Wood Stain on Concrete: Recap

While the wood stain is primarily intended for wood surfaces, it can also be used on concrete to achieve unique and aesthetically pleasing results. 

By considering the applicable factors, properly preparing the surface, and following the application and finishing steps, you can successfully use wood stain on concrete to enhance its appearance. 

Remember to maintain and care for the stained surface to ensure its longevity and preserve its visual appeal.

Leave a Comment