Concrete Stain vs Concrete Dye 101

For many years, concrete surfaces have been known to be dull. The truth is concrete isn’t always gray! It is available in a wide array of colors. Depending on the look you want to achieve, you can use different methods for coloring your concrete surfaces. The most popular options are stains and dyes.

Many people use the terms interchangeably, but there’s a slight difference between them. In this blog, we will be talking about concrete dyes vs. stains. Continue reading to learn more:

What Are Concrete Stains?

In general, concrete stains are used on exterior surfaces that have been prepped. You can choose between three types of concrete stains: film-forming, penetrating, and acid stains. Concrete stains contain color pigments, which help alter the shade of the concrete. 

Using a sprayer, brush, or roller, the concrete stain will be applied to the surface. A polyurethane coating is then applied to the surface to brighten the color of the stain. Overall, concrete stains can work on both interior and exterior surfaces. They are extremely durable and can hold up under UV exposure. Proper surface preparation and maintenance will make the surface look great for several years.

What Are Concrete Dyes?

Available in water and solvent-based formulations, concrete dyes are perfect for polished surfaces. They penetrate better in burnished and polished concrete, as compared to stains. Dyes come in a limitless range of colors. To achieve your preferred shade, you can mix the concrete dye pigments however you want.

As for application, concrete dyes will penetrate the surface and dry in just minutes. They don’t require rinsing, which might leave you little room for error.

But consider that concrete dyes don’t hold up well against UV rays. They tend to fade easily when exposed to sunlight. That’s why they are commonly used on interior surfaces.

Can You Stain or Dye a Freshly Poured Slab?

Any concrete project needs to undergo a curing period. This curing duration is the time when you allow the concrete to cure thoroughly. For a newly poured concrete slab, the minimum curing time is between 21 and 28 days. Around this time, any excess water in the slab has already evaporated. The curing period may still be affected by other factors like the weather and consistency of the concrete. 

To ensure the success of your project, consult a professional concrete contractor in your area.

Do You Need To Use a Sealer?

Applying a coat of sealer is important to protect your stained or dyed concrete. Due to foot traffic and wear and tear, it’s normal for color pigments to fade. This is why you need to select a sealer that will maintain your concrete surface. Without a sealer, your colored concrete will wear away quickly.

Sealer application can be done as soon as the concrete stain or dye has dried. We suggest that you reapply the concrete sealer every year or two.

Is Regular Maintenance Needed?

Although concrete requires minimal upkeep, you still need to maintain them. Like any other surface, routine cleaning and maintenance will keep colored concrete fresh. When the surface is taken care of, the color will not fade or wear away.

You may clean the surface by removing debris and waxing them. A concrete cleaner or degreaser can do the trick to get rid of built-up grease and oil. 

Which Is Better: Concrete Dyes or Concrete Stains?

The answer depends on your specific needs. For smoother and more polished surfaces, concrete dye is the best way to go. It is easier to apply and more environmentally friendly than other options.

If you have a rougher concrete surface, the stain will adhere well to other coloring methods. Stamped, textured, brush finished, and hand troweled surfaces are great for concrete stains. They provide a lot of room where color pigments can grab onto.


Whether you prefer concrete dye or stain, Midstate Concrete is here to guide you! We are experts in everything concrete—from driveway installation to concrete patio paving. Our team can help you choose between a wide array of products for your concrete surfaces. 

Our services include driveway paving and sealing, concrete leveling and mudjacking, concrete repair, and more. Trust that our contractors are always ready to complete your project. To get started, feel free to give us a call today! We’d like to work with you.