So which to choose: Acid staining or water staining for your floors? Our clients trust that we will create a beautiful floor for them no matter which one you choose. This homeowner in Richardson, Tx was no exception when he asked us to apply a microfinish overlay to his home and wasn't concerned about how we achieved the final product. We always start by asking what color you would like to see on the floor and then determining the best approach. With a microfinish overlay we can go with either acid staining or water staining because both create beautiful color effects.
The biggest advantage of water staining is that we have very good control over the final color of the floor. Water staining is based on mixing a pigment with a transparent stain base that, once it dries, locks the color into the microfinish overlay so tightly that even pouring water on it afterwards won't wash it away. Because the pigment is actually absorbed into the overlay material, it's very durable; to damage it you would have to physically abrade the concrete surface; that takes some work. Acid staining works very differently in that it's a reactive process. The acid reacts with the lime content of the concrete and how the surface was finished when it was poured, which creates the staining effect.
Both processes have pro's and con's. Acid staining takes longer because it's reactive and the stain needs time to develop its color, sometimes between four to eight hours. Water staining is very fast because all it needs to do is dry for you to see the final color; we've water stained some overlayed floors in as little as 45 minutes. Acid staining can create more variegation, or mottling, than water staining but the final color will change dramatically once you seal it with a solvent based sealer which makes it more unpredictable. That's not the case with water stains, which only slightly darken when sealed. Finally, a lot of acid stains create rusty orange and red hues in the floor, which some people are not so wild about. With water stains, as we control the color and amount of pigment used, we don't have this problem. Ultimately, most of our clients just want a beautiful, low maintenance floor and aren't concerned about how we get there.
In our next project we talk about how we use a microfinish overlay to repair a damaged concrete floor.