Stained Concrete Driveway

Natural gray is a beautiful color, it’s neutral and pretty much goes with anything, but we think you’ll agree that adding some color with an acid stain to this large “u-shaped” concrete driveway in Melissa, TX was the right move.

acid stained concrete driveway with house

The reddish brown acid stain created a beautiful effect that highlights the stone and brick appearance. This was a big project, over three thousand square feet. We have a couple of tricks to prepare for a job this size and it all begins with a good power wash.

close up of acid stained driveway

At the very minimum, any stained concrete driveway project needs to be power washed prior to acid staining. This forces out dust, mold, some stains, and other contaminants that are in the concrete that can interfere with the staining process. 

Nowadays, as power washers have gotten affordable, anyone can get one. Just keep in mind that you need to be careful using them.

looking down acid stained driveway towards the street

Most power washers come with multiple tips, each on narrower than the last. If you’re not careful, you can easily damage the concrete if you use a tip that concentrates the water flow into a very narrow stream. These have so much force in such a small area that you can carve your name into the concrete surface with them. 

Alternately, you could use a wider tip but if you put it too close to the surface you will also damage that driveway that you are tying to acid stain. This is because in addition to cleaning the surface the tip is actually stripping the top layer of concrete right off. This top layer is called the “cream coat” and it consists of mostly just cement and fine sand.

anther view of acid stained driveway

By placing the tip too close, you rip this off exposing the sand, stone, and cement mixture that makes up the floor. You can still stain the floor without any problems, but that “cream coat” is what gives the floor personality as it has variations in color, density, and texture that are the result of the trowel or broom finish.

However if you don’t strip off all the cream coat then you are going to get random blotches all over. Obviously it’s just better not to go so hard in the cleaning phase.

driveway prior to staining

Lastly, it’s real important to be consistent when you power wash. It’s a dull, repetitive process that gets old real quick, but bouncing around or trying to shortcut it will be very evident when you finish the acid staining process. 

Acid stain if unforgiving, any place you didn’t wash will show up as a band or stripe and if you skip around you’ll clearly see it as in some places the acid reacted more than others. Even though this stained concrete driveway was huge you can obviously see we didn’t take any shortcuts.

driveway after acid staining