What Really Is Stain and Seal?

September 11, 2019
Concrete Staining

We often receive requests for “staining and sealing” concrete floors. While a variation of this request can be an inexpensive way to make concrete floors look a bit better, there are numerous other factors to consider before choosing this finish for your next project.

Pros and Cons of Staining and Sealing Concrete Floors

Staining and sealing concrete floors actually involves using concrete dye, rather than a stain. The concrete is prepped with an initial grind, dye is spread evenly over the surface of the floor and two coats of sealer are applied on top. This request seems to be especially popular for basement floors and other residential applications. However, it is not a long-term flooring solution.Staining and sealing concrete floors can only temporarily improve the appearance of basic concrete. The sealer generally wears off in three to five years, and then, the same sealer used initially needs to be applied again. This involves remembering what sealer was actually used in the first place. Additionally, sealers are acrylic, which is in itself not an overly durable material. It shows scratches, and spills can lead to blushing (a milky or whitish appearance). Because of these issues, we very rarely recommend this process for concrete floors.

Alternate Concrete Flooring Systems

Instead of staining and sealing concrete floors, we recommend mechanically polishing or epoxy coating. Here are some popular options:

  • Dying and mechanically polishing. This is the most popular and most recommended alternative. Polished concrete floors are extremely durable, require little maintenance and last virtually forever.
  • Decorative epoxy. Decorative epoxy coatings are durable and resistant to chipping, abrasions, stains and moisture. They can be customized to fit any decor.
  • High-aggregate epoxy. For industrial applications, this is generally the best alternative. An epoxy coating is one of the toughest and most durable concrete coatings available, and adding aggregate to epoxy increases the durability even more.

If you’re still not sure what you need, we’re always available for free consultations!

8 Ways to Upgrade Your Concrete Floor

There are so many ways to upgrade your concrete floor from polishing to coating to engraving or staining. We love helping our clients pick out the right fit for what they are looking to accomplish. Sometimes it’s a bit overwhelming to choose what to do with your concrete flooring. Here are 8 ways you can upgrade your concrete to protect and/or enhance it with a little explanation about each technique. We hope this helps when deciding what to do with your next project!

Mechanical Polishing

Mechanical polished concrete is a process that takes abrasives (diamonds) and mechanically places scratches in the concrete. This scratching process uses finer grit abrasives to remove and replace the scratches with smaller and smaller micro scratches.

The objective is to refine the floor and take away the small scratches so that you see a reflection in the floor. This process can be achieved with older concrete, new concrete and/or coated concrete.

This process is considered to be the maximum refinement method, and can be considered the best long-term solution for polished concrete.

Topical Polishing

Topical polishing is similar to the mechanically polished floor, but the course of action is shorter, and it leaves the floor at less than maximum refinement.

Most of the time the topically processed progression ends at a 200- or 400- grit step. These grits leave peaks on the top of the scratches that have zero lateral support. A topical sealer is then added and is placed into the gaps left by the scratching process. As the sealer settles and dries, it gives the appearance of being completely polished and is referred to as “polished concrete.”

This process is a much cheaper alternative to the mechanical process. The “topical polish” is exactly the same thing as putting on a coating. This method can be done with a burnisher, a floor scrubber and even a swing machine.

Decorative Epoxy Coatings

Epoxy floor coatings are hard wearing and durable solutions for both commercial and residential flooring. These floor coatings can be applied over concrete floors to provide a high performance and an attractive surface.

New technology now offers you the ability to choose almost any color. Metallic additives create a gorgeous surface and multiple colors can be randomly applied together revealing a swirling effect that is very unique and attractive.

Decorative Overlays

Overlays are a great option for concrete floors that are damaged or distressed. They are extremely durable and attractive. Overlays typically consist of a cementitious product, but some may be a combination of polyurethane and cement. They can be stained, mechanically polished, coated or stamped with any pattern you can imagine. Overlays are a great way to make an old concrete floor look brand new.

Dyes and Stains

The skies the limit when it comes to colorants. Multiple colors and patterns add to the beauty of your polished floor. There are a multitude of application techniques to add interesting effects when applying dyes and stains.


We can incorporate engraving into your polishing process to provide borders and logos. Engraving can turn ordinary concrete surfaces into slate, tile, stone, brick and much more.

Hardeners and Sealers

Hardeners/densifiers are products that penetrate into the concrete surface and react with the Portland cement and fills the micro-pores. This reaction creates a very dense surface that helps with ease of cleaning, abrasion, dusting, staining, and overall wear of your concrete surface. These products do not change the appearance of the surface but can generate a sheen after burnishing and actually becomes harder the more you use the surface.

Sealers are an option for some floors. Depending on your needs it may provide a shiny surface that is easy to clean. All sealers will need to be reapplied at some point depending on wear and tear.

Final Notes

Performance Concrete Polishing is focused on providing services that are related to concrete surfaces. These services are appropriate for new and existing concrete. The majority of services we offer are oriented to improving the aesthetic appearance of these surfaces. Decorative concrete services are the hallmark of this company, and we’d love to help you out with your next project!