“Why Don’t You Drop In?” – An acid stained driveway

This project started with an unusual question – “Can you apply an acid stain to fix my driveway?” Actually, it wasn’t the question that was unusual, it was the answer –”Yes!” As you may know, acid staining is a reactive process, creating a translucent color that is actually part of the concrete, not a coating on top. That is both its greatest strength and weakness. It’s good in the sense that it can’t be just scraped off, to get rid of the acid stain you have to physically damage the surface of the concrete, it won’t just peel off or fade away. At the same time, since it’s a reactive process, anything that interferes with it during the application will create unusual results, which was very much a possibility in this case.

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Let’s get some back story. Our Lewisville, TX homeowner had long dreamed of having an acid stained driveway but was plagued by a constant rain of small seed pods from two large trees on either side of it. Usually, no big deal, but as it was a driveway, her car would literally squish them into the concrete, creating many small blotches. She couldn’t remember how many times she had tried to clean them off and they were driving her nuts. One day she thought, “Instead of fighting it, what if the spots could just be part of an acid stained driveway theme?” Out came the phone and she dialed us up.

My first reaction was to say it wouldn’t work and that the best thing we can do is an overlay and then stain it, creating her beautiful acid stained driveway. As the overlay is a thin layer of concrete it would bury the stains but she wanted to keep her costs down as much as possible and, most importantly, said she was flexible with the final appearance. That was the key part; as we are putting down a translucent stain, anything that was visible at the start would still be there after we wrapped it up. That didn’t mean we weren’t going to try to clean it as much as possible, only that some of those seed pod stains were going to still show up.

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The great thing about acid staining is that it creates a variegated finish, with lighter and darker areas running throughout. The crushed seed pods had left behind a multitude of small irregularly shaped blotches which actually worked real well with the acid stained driveway theme. The splotches were not so big as to be distracting or look out of place, in fact you would have to really look for them to realize that it was not a natural part of the acid staining process. In the end, it all turned out great. Normally my answer for these types of situations is “No, we first need to apply the overlay.” but the most important part of the process, whether for acid stained driveways, interior floors, concrete countertops, etc., is the client’s expectations. If you are willing to accept some things showing up in the final finish then we can do a direct stain, if not, then we always recommend applying the overlay first.

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