September 02, 2004

In This Issue of The Acid Staining Newsletter

Seeing Red

We have often been asked by clients to stain their floor to match an adjoining brick area. It is something I wish we could do, but to date there is no true red in acid stain. Several stain companies publish pretty charts of stain colors which might include one called "Brick" or "English Red."  It has been our experience that the red color on these charts is a fabrication. We can make it appear red by adding a strong red tint to our clear topping sealer, but this means that if the floor gets badly scratched the red will disappear along with the sealer.

We recently ordered a quart of "English Red" from Kemiko and followed the instructions exactly. The color we obtained was closer to Scofield’s Padre Brown. It was a nice brown without too much orange in it, but by no stretch could it be called "English Red."

If your client is determined to have a red floor, he should have the slab poured with lots of integral color in it, or have a topping slab applied which has had red powdered pigment mixed into it generously. Most stain makers also manufacture powders called color hardeners which are meant to be troweled into the surface of a gray slab to alter color and increase durability. Quality Construction makes a Colortech powder called "Bayferrox" or "Salsa Red."      

This will give the whole slab a flat, uniform, brick red color. This is not a color anyone would want to live with by itself—it has a dull, bland look to it—but it looks gorgeous with a Dark Walnut or Padre Brown stain applied over it.

We recently worked on a forty-year old red slab in an office building. It was under VCT tile, so our first chore was to remove lots of black mastic. We hired a young and enthusiastic professional floor cleaner to remove the mastic. He had a high-pressure hot water spray gun which he was very fond of, but that did not do the trick. We recommended several applications of citrus cleaner with subsequent scraping and scrubbing, and left him to do the work.

The citrus cleaner took more labor than the impatient young man wanted to spend, so he poured paint thinner all over the floor, let it melt the mastic and then cleaned it off, somewhat. His hot water pressure-washer sent the fumes up a nearby stairwell and into the air ducts; all the upstairs office tenants complained, and some went home early with headaches.

Never use paint thinner! We were able to cut the noxious fumes somewhat by mopping the floor three times with water into which we’d added a cup of vanilla. We set up fans, opened doors to the street and let the room ventilate. Three days later, the odor was still discernible. We had to scrub the floor several more times with strong TSP solution to cut the oils in the mineral spirits, prior to staining.

Later, we heard about a soy-based product called Bean-e-doo for removing all sorts of mastic. It was biodegradable, non odiferous and sounded too good to be true. We ordered a gallon and found that it worked very well on the smooth red slab of this floor.  It did not work as well on a nearby slab which had been covered with an absorbent leveling compound and THEN with yellow tile mastic. or 1-800-538-5069.  

You apply Bean-e-doo full strength, let it sit an hour, and then scrape up the gooey residue. Next, you should scrub the floor with another Franmar product called Emerge.  It worked better than citrus cleaners and was much more pleasant to use than Jasco or other solvent-type mastic removers.

The first photo shows an area of the old red concrete, on the right, with a band of black mastic, and an adjacent area of red concrete (left side) which has been stained with light brown (Antique Amber and Padre Brown mixed in the bottle), scrubbed and sealed. The red of this floor had a violet tinge to it. But we have stained several orange-toned brick red floors with L.M. Scofield’s Dark Walnut and had good success.

Applying Dark Walnut over red gives a fine, deep burgundy which looks like old Moroccan leather book bindings.

The next photos show a close-up and a longer shot of the floor stained by our seminar students. We did the large areas in our AA & PB mix, then taped off bands across the floor and stained them with straight Dark Walnut. The client was very happy with the results. One note of caution: you should warn the client that this combination will make the floors fairly dark and if the dust in your locale is pale in color, then footprints will show up readily across the floor. The floors  will be dramatic, but daily dust mopping will be required to keep them looking their best.

Happy Staining!


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