What is the Difference of Concrete Stain vs. Concrete Paint?

Concrete stain driveway

Concrete coatings on a driveway

There are two schools of thought in regards to concrete stain and paint. On one side, you have people who love stain. They say it’s the only way to beautify concrete. Then, on the other side, you have the people who love paint. They claim paint is the best option for dressing up concrete. Before you can decide which option is best for you, you need to look at the real differences between the two.

The Application Process

You will notice a big difference between concrete paint and stain during the application process. While it is necessary to clean the concrete to apply both stain and paint, that is where the similarities end. Stain goes on generally with a sprayer but paint is brushed and rolled on. ¬†The installer will generally use a degreaser and then follow that up with muriatic acid for a paint. Where as an acidic stain has the “acid” portion built in. ¬†Generally stains will require a sealer to bring out the depth in color whereas a paint is what it is when it dries and requires no additional surface coating or sealer.

How They Cover Concrete

The biggest difference between concrete stain and paint is how they cover concrete. When you use indoor or outdoor concrete paint, it stays right on top of the concrete, where it provides a layer of protection. This opaque paint comes in various colors, allowing you to choose a color scheme for your concrete.

On the other hand, stain actually soaks into the concrete. When it permeates the concrete, it creates a unique look that you can’t achieve with opaque paint. For instance, SunAcid is a reactive acid stain that reacts with the salts and minerals in the concrete. The end result is a translucent mottled look that is impossible to create with paint.

How They Stand Up Over Time

You will also notice a difference between indoor and outdoor concrete paint and stain in regards to how they stand up to the test of time. Stain can fade over time, but this problem can be remedied by using a sealer. Applying a sealer after staining the concrete should seal the stain in so you won’t have to worry about it fading.

As far as paint goes, it can chip and peel if it isn’t applied properly. Of course, the best way to avoid that problem is to make sure that it is applied to the right way and surface preparation is done right.

Both stain and paint are good options for indoor and outdoor concrete. Weigh your options and then choose the one that is right for your needs.