Acid-Stained Concrete Scoring Patterns

This acid-stained finished basement concrete floor had 3.5' diagonal Spanish tiles cut in the interior and an 18" border along the walls done in a contrasting color.  Notice the distinct color separation on both sides of the border.

This acid-stained finished basement concrete floor had 3.5' diagonal Spanish tiles cut in the interior and an 18" border along the walls done in a contrasting color.  Notice the distinct color separation on both sides of the border.


TECHNIQUE

Acid-stained concrete floors look best either without decorative concrete scoring altogether or with basic, large, repeating patterns that do not draw attention away from the natural marbling effects of the acid-stain.  At the bottom of this page are some of the most common acid-stained concrete scoring patterns.  The saw-cut lines patterns are generally "scored" at a width of about 1/8" and depth of 1/4", but cuts can be made as wide as 3/8" for a more distinct effect and can be cut deeper, for example, to more easily maintain color separation during the staining process when using multiple colors.  Acid-stained concrete scoring patterns may be done on an existing concrete floor or decorative concrete (cement) overlay.

Decorative saw-cuts often look best unfilled, in which case they provide a subtle, shadowed effect on the concrete floor, but saw-cuts may be filled with colored polyurea joint filler or cementitious tile grout for more visual accenting.  Using multiple colors of acid stain on a concrete floor with a saw-cut pattern, and separating these colors at the decorative cuts, is a great way of enhancing a floor's artistic and visual impact.   For example, 12"-18" borders are normally done in a contrasting or complementary color, as are the double lines and corners of grid patterns.  Color separation with basic, large patterns, such as 4'-6' square or rectangular tiles, is less common because it results in what can be seen as a "checkerboard effect", if used over the entire pattern.   Staining a random large tile here or there, though, with a different color is something that can be done for more basic accenting purposes.


COST

Decorative concrete scoring patterns usually add about $.75-$1.50 per square foot to the cost of a project, depending on their complexity.  Color separation, if desired, may then add another $1.00-$1.50 per square foot on top of that since it makes the concrete staining process more tedious:  Areas immediately adjacent to the sections being stained with one color need to be masked with tape and plastic to prevent stain from crossing the decorative saw-cuts; later, when the other areas are stained, completed sections must be masked with plastic to protect their coloring.  This masking process is time-consuming and requires considerable know-how and good technique to prevent drips and color bleed.  The two photos below show the masking required for a black border on an acid-stained concrete floor.  Because of the stark color contrast between the floor interior and border, we had to use a double layer of plastic and tape to protect against against drips and color bleed.
 

 
Gray acid-stained basement concrete floor masked off with tape and plastic to protect it while acid-staining a dark black border
 
Gray acid-stained basement concrete floor with interior diagonal tiles and acid-stained dark black border
 


PATTERNS

Here are some of the most common and conservative patterns used with acid-stained concrete flooring.  Arcs, curves, circles and other geometric designs can also be easily used as the basis for a saw-cut design.

Spanish Tile

Spanish Tile

Rectangular Grid

Rectangular Grid

Bordered Diagonal Tile

Bordered Diagonal Tile

Bordered Square Tile

Bordered Square Tile

Diagonal Spanish Tile

Diagonal Spanish Tile

Square Grid

Square Grid

Bordered Basketweave Slate

Bordered Basketweave Slate

 
Offset Rectangular Tile

Offset Rectangular Tile

Tall Slate

Tall Slate

Contemporary Scored

Contemporary Scored

Framed Diagonal Grid

Framed Diagonal Grid