Direct Acid Stain or Microfinish Concrete Overlay
When it comes to acid staining there are two options: Direct acid stain or first applying microfinish concrete overlays. Which one you choose depends on what shape your floor is in and what your expectations are of the final, finished concrete floor.
For those wishing a distinct look to their floors, a direct acid stain is an excellent option. This type of staining is a reactive process; the acid and metallic salts in the stain react with the concrete, creating unique color schemes. Because the chemical make-up of all concrete floors varies substantially, no two surfaces will ever be exactly alike. Various color combinations are available, from watercolor blues to translucent reds; each creating a beautiful floor that is truly original.
Direct acid stain is often the best choice for new homes under construction as the concrete is generally in good shape resulting in absolutely gorgeous floors; and for an economical price.
It also works great for exterior projects such as driveways, patios, and sidewalks as it's very resistant to the elements. It's possible to apply a direct acid stain to homes that previously had carpet, tile, laminate, or linoleum on the floor, however please realize that it's impossible to guarantee that all floor imperfections can be removed. Anything that is visible on the floor after we clean it will still be visible after we acid stain it. Because acid staining is a translucent process, all imperfections show up in the final floor finish, (tack strip holes from carpet, glue marks, cracks, tile's "ghost image", etc.).
Fortunately, we have a second option for interior floors that addresses these problems. Microfinish concrete overlays are a special polymer-enhanced, cement-based material applied over your existing concrete floor that creates a new, smooth surface ready for acid or water staining. These concrete overlays have a great advantage over a direct acid stain because by resurfacing your floor, we can eliminate many eyesores prior to applying an acid stain. We can also tint the material to create a wide range of colors; many more than what we can achieve with a regular acid stain.
So which should you choose? Here is where your expectations come into play. If you're doing interior or exterior projects and the floor is in good shape, the definite way to go is with a direct acid stain. It's more economical than what you can get with microfinish concrete overlays and it creates a beautiful floor. If your interior floor has had some type of flooring previously installed on it, the best bet is to go with microfinish concrete overlays. It's a little more expensive than a direct acid stain, but the resurfacing virtually eliminates all floor defects and creates a gorgeous "leather like" look. About 90% of homeowners remodeling their floors choose this option over a direct acid stain because its worry free.