February 4, 2004

In This Issue of The Acid Staining Newsletter

Replicating tile with grout lines using masking tape
Can acid stain be used in a hair salon?
How old can a concrete slab be and still accept acid stain?
Get advanced training at acid staining seminars


Using acid stain to replicate the look of large ceramic tiles is a style that has become very popular recently. Most decorative concrete professionals use saws to cut the "grout lines" into the slab. If done correctly this will give a nice tile-like finish. There are, however, several disadvantages you should be aware of before you decide to go this route.

  • Cutting lines requires additional tools that you will have to rent or buy.
  • Any mistakes while cutting will leave gouges in the slab that even when patched will mar the finish of your stain.

Another technique I use that gets a similar effect with less work is to stain your "tiles" directly onto the floor using masking tape to mark the edges.

For masking off lines on the floor we use the same tape that we use in our wall masking machine. The exact brand we use is listed in my book Tips and Tricks, but there are several out there that will do the job. You will need to dust ahead of yourself (on a clean, dry floor, of course) and press the tape down very well with a plastic spatula. Even then the stain WILL bleed under if the tape goes over any rough areas in the concrete, but you can easily go back and faux paint the areas that need a little touchup. Lines will be sharper the smoother the trowel job on the slab.

For an ever more artistic look, why not forgo the fake grout lines and let the stain do what it does best, which is to flow and look like solid rock? I have never understood why people would want their gorgeous acid-stained floors to look like giant, ordinary ceramic tile. (Sorry, but I'm very opinionated!) If you want just some sort of grid, it looks pretty cool to mask off the edges of large squares in a checkerboard fashion and stain every other one the first day. Second day you remove the tape on the stained squares, tape off the remaining squares, and stain those. You can even use the exact same color. Just the fact of being stained on a different day and having an edge between one small area and another will create a nice, subtle pattern without the boldness of a dark-light checkerboard. This is illustrated in more detail in my book "Advanced Artistic Techniques".


I have stained a number of salons over the last few years. Even after years of use, there hasn't seemed to be any spots from things you might think of (i.e. chemicals). What you will have to watch out for though is lots of tiny scratches and abrasions in the sealer. You will have to wax the floor often because of the combination of heavy foot traffic and constant sweeping of hair up from the floor.

I would recommend that you use a good solvent-based sealer rather than the water-based one that we show in my video. It is toxic and smelly and not allowed in some states (air laws) so it depends on where you live. All sealers & waxes make the floor more slippery when wet. We use the same wax used in hospitals and grocery stores. It is beautiful and durable, but spills need to be mopped up pronto.

Often I will have clients ask about adding sand or other materials to the sealer to reduce slippage. Personally, I haven't found any good slip-proof surfaces that I have been happy with (the granules come out with walking and leave pits in the surface to pick up dirt).

If you are thinking of staining the floor of a hair salon, I would say to go for it. We recently finished a beautiful salon in Santa Fe. I think this is a very nifty way to do salon floors that is both practical and unique. You can design your whole environment and it is cheaper than ceramic tile (also no grout lines to hold hair).


I have heard of concrete that has been stained even if it is 80 years old. It all depends on the conditions it has been subjected to in its lifetime. The only downside is that it needs to be really well cleaned first and that might add a good deal to the price of a stain job.

It has been my experience that really old slabs result in really beautiful floors. The age of the concrete is visible through the stain and results in a depth that you can't achieve with a newly poured slab.


We've set our seminar dates for the first half of 2004!

My recent hands-on workshops have gotten rave reviews! We've had all kinds of people attend from concrete professionals and interior designers, to working fine artists and do-it-yourselfers.

Now, I've decided to offer a second, advanced seminar that will cover all of my most sophisticated acid staining techniques. Plus, we'll show you some of the exciting things being done in related decorative concrete fields. If you are looking to get into the decorative concrete business, attending this seminar will give you the jumpstart you need.

Click here for more info about both of my seminars.

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