Stains & Color Interior Concrete Floor Finishes: Stains and Color For a fresh, updated, one-of-a-kind look, homeowners are choosing stained concrete floors instead of opting for traditional floor coverings like carpet, tile, and hardwood. Concrete stains revitalize boring and lackluster concrete, and stained concrete floors are functional, beautiful, full of character and will last for years with minimal upkeep. Often referred to as “acid stains”, reactive chemical stains contain metallic salts that react with the lime content in concrete. When the stain is applied, it forms a permanent bond with the concrete and the finish won’t peel or chip since it’s integrated into the concrete by the process. The result is dramatic, variegated, and translucent color tones in reds, browns, and tans. Reactive chemical stains are a great choice if your concrete is new and undamaged. Nonreactive water-based acrylic stains don’t rely on a chemical reaction for the color. These stains penetrate the concrete surface and the color pigment is deposited into the open pores of the concrete. The result is a more opaque and uniform surface finish. If the concrete slab is older, has had a lot of traffic, possible surface damage, or exposure to contaminants and stains, nonreactive stains will hide those imperfections and provide a more uniform finish. Old carpet glue, holes from carpet tack strips, stains, etc. will define the end result. Grinding the existing surface can help to mitigate some of the effects, however, they won’t entirely disappear and will add to the interest of the finished product. If you like a lot of interest and character in your floor, reactive stains will certainly accomplish that. If you prefer a more consistent, conservative finish, select a nonreactive stain. Concrete stains are ultimately used for coloring only and must additionally be sealed to provide the maximum in protection and longevity. Colors can be intermixed, blended together, or applied separately to achieve spectacular color effects and are best applied by decorative concrete professionals.