Sprucing up your spaces may be as simple as adding a little bit of color. When it comes to concrete, that dull gray that is typical of the material gets boring really fast. Adding a little color used to include a process called acid etching, but today that technique is no longer recommended for a variety of factors including environmental and structural. However, there are more options than just acid etching to prepare the surface of concrete for color adhesion. Different products will recommend different methods that will likely last longer and produce a better outcome than acid etching.

What Is Acid Etching?

When you acid etch concrete, you’re washing it. The goal is to clean the floor completely, removing any contaminants or laitance that would keep a coating from properly adhering to the concrete. A solution of buffered phosphoric acid or hydrochloric acid would be applied to the slab of concrete and then rinsed away with water. It’s easy to see why this might not be environmentally friendly, but there are other reasons that acid etching is no longer recommended.

Acid Etching Doesn’t Do Enough Work

When you’re applying a surface coating to concrete, you want the most textured surface possible so the product will best stick to the surface. If you don’t have a high concrete surface profile, or CSP, the high-solid solutions of today won’t adhere well to the surface.

Acid Etching Provides Uncertain Results

While acid etching removes laitance, which is the fine particles that appear on the surface of concrete when the water moves up through the concrete as it dries, it doesn’t take away all the other contaminants. Acid etching also won’t remove anything that is water insoluble. 

Acid Etching May Cause Damage

Acid can be a very dangerous substance to work with, and how it acts can be unpredictable. Because this is the case, damage can be caused to the concrete slab, compromising its durability by causing too much porosity. 

New Methods

Because new solvents have been created, new solutions to applying those solvents have also arisen. Acid etching has become mostly obsolete because of the above-mentioned items. Some of the new methods include diamond grinding, scabbling, and shot-blasting. 

Diamond grinding uses a heavy piece of machinery, similar to a floor polisher, to remove any surface impurities and create the textured surface necessary for color adhesion. Scabbling uses pressurized air equipment to complete the same job, while shot-blasting blasts metal beads at the surface of concrete. These modern methods are safer and more efficient than acid etching. 

Why Stain Your Concrete?

Maybe you’ve never considered staining your concrete surface and you’re wondering what the benefits might be, aside from cosmetic. There are a number of reasons that staining concrete is beneficial.

First, there’s the aspect of design flexibility. Because stains are versatile, they can be applied in ways that make your flooring truly unique. Whether you’re interested in just an overall hint of color, or an elaborate pattern, staining makes that possible.

Second, is the aspect of durability. Applying a stain to your concrete will look great, but it will also help to seal it and extend its life. Also, the color itself is permanent, so you won’t have to worry about it fading or chipping away with wear.

Finally, staining is more eco-friendly. The concrete itself has more staying power than other kinds of flooring, and you won’t contribute to the one-use system of products. There are also many eco-friendly staining products on the market, so you can know you’re showing the planet more care. 

Here at 4SYT Industries, we use the most up-to-date techniques for all of our jobs. You can be confident that your tasks will be completed with competence and skill, no matter how complicated the assignment. If you’re looking to add a little color to your concrete, contact us today.


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