Easy patio transformation

Staining concrete is cheap, quick

By Alison Highberger / For The Bulletin

Published Jul 8, 2014 at 12:11AM

Editor’s note: Check back every other week for do-it-yourself projects.

There’s nothing wrong with a gray concrete patio, but if you’d like a more elegant backyard entertaining space, we’ve got a simple do-it-yourself project: Stain the concrete.

Staining concrete is an easy and inexpensive way to liven up the look of an outdoor space. You can pick from solid or semitransparent colors. You can create a variety of finishes: uniform color, multicolor or patterns.

Dozens of color options are available, from sandy tans and warm oranges and browns, to blues, greens, deep reds and even black. We recommend a coppery brown shade to make you feel as if you’re chilling in Tuscany.

Some people like to spray stain on a patio, but we’ve found that rolling it on is quick, easy and less messy than spraying.

Plan on two days to get this DIY job done. The first day will be dedicated to sweeping and washing the concrete and letting it dry thoroughly. On the second day, you’ll roll on the stain and then allow it to dry.

Twenty-four hours later, you can move the furniture back and sit down to admire your handiwork. It’s pretty amazing what a little DIY color can do. We think you’ll feel as if you’ve transformed your plain concrete slab into an outdoor oasis.

Time:

About five hours of work over two days — two hours to prep and scrub the concrete; 24 hours to let it dry; and then three hours to prep and stain.

Difficulty:

Easy

Cost:

Under $50 if you already own some of the items below.

Supplies:

• Broom

• Long-handled deck brush or scrub brush, $2 to $5 (Note: Never use metal bristles on concrete, because they can scratch and damage it.)

• Bucket

• All-purpose cleaner, or liquid soap and baking soda, about $5

• Hose or power washer

• Concrete stain: 1 gallon costs about $25 (covers 200 to 400 square feet)

• Paint roller, $3 to $6 each

• Roller frame, $4

• Extension pole for roller, $5 to $10

• Paint tray, $3

• 4-inch paint brush, $1.50 to $5

• Drop cloths or tarps (plastic drop cloths cost about $2 each)

• Painters tape, $4

Step 1: Clean the patio

Clear everything off the patio, sweep it clean, and then wet it with water. Apply an all-purpose cleaner, or mix a bucket of water with ¼ cup of liquid soap and ¼ cup of baking soda, and scrub the entire patio with a long-handled deck brush or get on your hands and knees with a scrub brush. If the patio is very dirty, let the cleaning solution sit on it for 30 minutes, and then scrub it. Treat oil or grease marks with appropriate cleaners; otherwise they will show through the concrete stain. Rinse the deck with water. Allow the patio to dry thoroughly.

Step 2: Roll on the stain

Prepare for the stain by taping off any areas you don’t want stained, and put drop cloths on nearby grass, plants, steps, etc., to protect them from stain. Read the instructions on the stain can. Most recommend applying it when the temperature is between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and avoid applying it in direct sunlight. (By the way, don’t put stain on new concrete; it needs 30 days to cure before painting.)

Use a paintbrush to paint stain around the edges of the patio first, then assemble your roller on the extension pole, pour the stain into a paint tray, and roll it onto the concrete. That’s all there is to it.

Allow the stain to dry. It’s ready for light use in 24 hours. Avoid scraping furniture on the surface as you put it back.

If there’s a downside to staining concrete, it’s that once you stain your patio, you’ll have to continue to stain it. Every year or two, you’ll want to freshen up the color, so you’ll have to sweep, clean and apply another coat. We think that’s a small price to pay for a great new look.

— Reporter: ahighberger@mac.com