“Expectations” – Managing concrete acid stain problems

Whenever we first meet with a prospective client, one of the very first questions we ask is “What is the final result you would like to see on the floor”?

acid stained floor showing tile ghost images

Some are looking for a completely new, pristine floor; others are more willing to accept flaws and imperfections. Neither option is better than the other, which way to go just depends on your personality and what you would like to see. 

We ask this because, depending on what type of flooring you currently have, there are some things that can create concrete acid stain problems in the final floor finish that need to be addressed.

silhouette of where there was a wall on acid stained floor

Consider that when the contractor was building the home he was not worried in the least as to what happens to that freshly poured concrete floor. Painters, drywall installers, plumbers, carpenters, cabinet makers, all will pass through, all will drip, drop, pour, and scrape something on that floor. Since everyone assumes they will be covered with carpet, tile, wood, or linoleum, then it isn’t a problem; unless you want an acid stained floor.

tile ghost images in acid stained floors

When we spoke with our Fort Worth, TX homeowners we made sure that they understood the concrete acid stain problems we would have to deal with in this particular project. Instead of a direct acid stain where we stained their existing floor we offered an alternative, a microfinish overlay which is the process where we resurface the concrete, creating a new floor that is then stained. It would have eliminated the issues we were finding with the floor. 

First and foremost is the tile “ghost image” that was everywhere, a remnant of where the tile used to be. This doesn’t go away. However, worst amongst the concrete acid stain problems, is carpet glue.

acid stain with ghost images

In about half the cases we pull up carpet we find that the underpad (the foam part underneath) was glued to the floor. Sometimes the installers glue it down in thin random lines, other times in wide swatches. This glue can penetrate into the concrete, below the surface, and if it does, it’ll show up after acid staining. 

One way to minimize this particular concrete acid stain problem is to sand or grind the surface but if you just do one area of the floor it will stain substantially different from the rest of the floor so you almost have to do the entire area to make it look consistent.

sanded acid stained floor

With these combinations of concrete acid stain problems we were sure that our homeowners were going to select the microfinish option but they instead opted for the direct acid stain. 

Not a problem! Our goal was to make sure they got all the information they needed to get the results they wanted. In one room that had a lot of glue on it they asked us to grind the floor to minimize it as much as possible. You can see how grinding definitely affects how the floor looks compared to the other areas that were not done.

Ultimately, the floor looks great! It has a lot of panache, We’ll be the first to admit that going this route on remodels can make us a little nervous, especially with all the concrete acid stain problems that can crop up. You hope that you’ve explained everything to the client, shown them pictures, and that they understand that it won’t be a perfect floor, it will have a lot of variations. We’re happy to report that this floor exceeded their expectations.

closeup of sanded acid stained floor
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