How-to Prepare Uncoated Surfaces for Concrete Stain | Behr

Preparation of Uncoated Surfaces for Semi-Transparent Concrete Stain

A great looking finish begins with the right start. Following the proper prep procedures will dramatically affect the look and longevity of your finished project.

For Best Results:

Make sure that new concrete has cured for 30 days prior to applying any floor treatment.

For your safety, please wear protective clothing, eye goggles and acid-resistant rubber gloves and footwear.

Suggested Tools & Supplies
  • Bucket
  • Broom (Stiff Bristle)
  • Brush (2"-2½")
  • Bucket Grid
  • Chemical Resistant Gloves
  • Extension Pole
  • Hose
  • High Pressure Nozzle

  • Mop
  • Paint Can Opener
  • Paint Tray
  • Paint Tray Liner
  • Protective Apparel
  • Pump Sprayer
  • Rags
  • Roller Cover
  • Roller Frame
  • Stir Stick

How to Clean and Etch a Concrete Surface

  • Step 1

    The surface must be clean before you start. Wipe off any excess oil and grease spills. Scrape and sweep away any dirt or loose contaminants from the surface. 

    Ensure no sealer or coating is present. Sprinkle a few drops of water onto the surface.  If water is quickly absorbed, the surface is ready. If water does not absorb, a sealer could be present and needs to be removed.

  • Step 2

    Once the surface is clean, apply the cleaner & etcher product. Use a plastic watering can to evenly distribute the product.

  • Step 3

    Spread the cleaner and etcher using a stiff bristled, non-metal brush or broom. Allow the product to stand on the surface for at least 10-20 minutes, then scrub vigorously with the broom again.

    TIP: For best results, apply the cleaner and etcher onto a dry surface.

  • Step 4

    Ensure the cleaner and etcher do not dry on the surface.  Lightly mist the surface with water, if needed, to keep it wet. Heavily stained areas, older stains, or dense, smooth finishes may require additional applications.

  • Step 5

    Thoroughly rinse the surface with a garden hose with a high pressure nozzle or a pressure washer. Prevent the rinse solution from entering the storm drains.

  • Step 6

    The surface is ready for priming when it feels like medium grit sandpaper and no residue or loose concrete remains. To avoid adhesion issues, ensure the surface is clean by wiping your fingers over the surface to check for dust or powder. If residue is present, repeat the rinsing step.

How to Prime a Concrete Surface

  • Step 1

    Once the concrete is cleaned and etched, it is ready for application of the bonding primer. Apply using a high-quality pump sprayer, 1/4 - 3/8" nap roller, nylon-polyester brush, or pad applicator.

  • Step 2

    The bonding primer will dry to the touch in approximately 2 hours. Use the bonding primer when air and surface temperatures are between 50 - 90 degrees F.

    Once the surface has been primed, you can apply a topcoat. Make sure to apply after at least 4 hours but before 30 days.

Orange calculator icon in a white bubble


Inside or outside; paint or stain: Let’s figure out how much you’ll need to make amazing happen.



Every project is unique: Keep small wrinkles from becoming big problems by letting the Behr Technical Experts lend a hand.

Get Expert Help


Let Pro Referral do the leg work and match you with quality local painters.

Find a Painter
Tahitian sky
Small Behr logoS480-5
What Product Do I Need?
What sheen do I need?
8 Oz. Sample
1 Gallon
1 Quart
5 Gallon
The following product(s) is required to properly prep uncoated and previously coated concrete surfaces.
Required product
The following product(s) is required to properly prep uncoated and previously coated concrete surfaces. Only available in store at Home Depot.
Required 3rd party product
The 9 in. x 1/4 in. Polyester Adhesive Roller Cover has a hard texture, making it ideal for applying all types of adhesives to smooth surfaces. It can be used for stippling and applying sand paints.
The following product(s) is recommended when a topcoat clear finish is desired.
The Home Depot logoSold Exclusively at The Home Depot