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Floor shield coatings vs. Concrete staining: which provides better aesthetics?

Floor shield coatings vs. Concrete staining: which provides better aesthetics?

When it comes to enhancing the look and durability of your concrete floor, two popular options stand out: concrete staining and concrete coatings. At Floor Shield, we get questions like, “Between concrete staining and coating, which option is better overall” and “Which one looks better?”

While both methods aim to add a touch of style to your concrete surface, they differ significantly in terms of their application, protection, and long-term benefits. In this article, we’ll answer both of the above questions honestly and explore the key differences between these two techniques to help you make an informed decision for your flooring needs.


Concrete staining has become a common DIY project for homeowners looking to spruce up their concrete floors without breaking the bank. The allure of concrete staining lies in its simplicity. Most individuals, even those with no prior knowledge of concrete, can undertake the installation independently. However, it is essential to understand the limitations of this approach.

The staining process typically begins with a muriatic acid etch, which serves to clean the concrete surface, preparing it for the stain. While this is effective at cleaning the substrate, the use of muriatic acid can have detrimental effects on your concrete. This powerful acid deteriorates the top layer of the concrete, compromising its integrity.

Moreover, the acid reduces the pH of the concrete, making it less alkaline. This pH shift can lead to the corrosion of the rebar, the metal reinforcement inside the concrete that holds it together. The lower the pH of your concrete, the more susceptible your rebar is to rust, ultimately resulting in structural degradation and eventually complete breakdown.

Once the acid etch is complete, you can then apply a concrete stain, which is readily available at many major retail stores such as Walmart, Lowe’s, and Home Depot. The primary function of a concrete stain is to add color to the concrete, but it does not offer any substantial protection.

Types: There are two main types of concrete stains: acid-based stains and water-based stains.

Acid-based stains react with the minerals in the concrete, creating unique and unpredictable color variations. They often produce earthy tones.

For optimal concrete longevity, you might want to forego this option. As we discussed above, acid can harm the integrity of the concrete.

Water-based stains are more predictable in terms of color and are often used when a specific color outcome is desired.

Some products labeled as “stain and sealers” may claim to seal the concrete pores, but the actual sealing effect is often negligible. For optimal protection, we advise applying a separate clear sealer over the stained surface. If you want the stain to last, you’ll have to re-apply the sealer about every 3 – 5 years.

While concrete stains penetrate deep into the pores of the concrete, ensuring long-lasting color, they are not immune to the effects of sunlight and wear and tear. Over time, frequent exposure to sunlight can cause the color to fade, and high-traffic areas may even lose their color entirely. Concrete staining primarily addresses the aesthetic aspect, leaving your floor vulnerable to various forms of damage.


Concrete coatings offer a more comprehensive solution for enhancing the aesthetics and safeguarding the durability of your concrete floor. Think of it as the paint on wood, which protects it from the elements. Concrete coatings serve a similar purpose by creating a protective layer over the concrete surface.

There are various types of concrete coatings, including epoxy, polyurea, polyaspartic, and more. Floor Shield is a 100% polyaspartic concrete coating.

In the world of concrete coatings, 100% polyaspartic coatings like Floor Shield are recognized as the best choice for durability and longevity. They are highly regarded within the industry due to their:

  • Quick drying time
  • UV resistance
  • Superior durability
  • Exceptional adhesion.

This means that not only do they provide excellent protection, but they also ensure that your floor maintains its pristine appearance for an extended period beyond other coatings.

Floor Shield not only seals the pores of your concrete, providing robust protection against water-related damage, but it also offers a defense against:

  • Abrasion
  • Cracking
  • Chemical damage
  • Stains
  • Mold
  • Grime accumulation.

In addition to these protective features, concrete coatings can enhance the floor’s appearance by adding texture with flakes and sheen, making it significantly more attractive compared to plain, stained concrete, which still retains the dull look of concrete.


One significant drawback of concrete coating is that it is too complex of a job for the average homeowner to undertake. It typically requires professional installation, which comes with an additional cost. Moreover, the materials used in concrete coating are inherently more expensive than concrete stains.

A gallon of concrete stain generally costs between $60 to $75 and covers approximately 250 to 300 square feet.

In contrast, the pricing of our Floor Shield coating typically falls in the range of $6.50 to $9 per square foot.

While it may seem like a substantial cost difference, the investment in Floor Shield is well worth it. We stand by our promise to protect your concrete and maintain visual appeal with a 15-year, non-prorated warranty. ‘Prorated’ meaning your coverage doesn’t degrade with the warranty’s age, ensuring that your floor remains in excellent condition for years to come.


Concrete staining primarily adds color to your concrete, offering an alternative to the traditional plain, gray appearance. However, it fails to transform the overall look of the floor beyond color. The result is a floor that, while colorful, still maintains the same dull and dreary concrete aesthetic.

If you are seeking a truly vibrant and visually appealing surface, concrete staining might not be the ideal choice. However, stains also react chemically with the minerals in the concrete, creating a translucent, variegated appearance that resembles natural stone. This results in a more natural and mottled look compared to a uniform coating.

On the other hand, concrete coatings provide a broader spectrum of options for aesthetic enhancement. They offer:

  • Glossy finishes
  • Colored flakes
  • A vibrant surface that can make your floor look nothing like plain concrete.

Whether you want a sleek, polished look or a textured, multi-dimensional design, concrete coatings can cater to your specific preferences. They allow you to personalize your floor’s appearance to a much greater extent compared to concrete staining.

When deciding between Floor Shield coatings and concrete staining, it is essential to consider your priorities. If you value both the aesthetic advantage and long-term protection of your concrete floor, concrete coatings are the superior choice.

While they may require professional installation and come with a higher upfront cost, the benefits in terms of durability, resistance to water and sunlight, and aesthetics far outweigh the investment. Yet, if you’re working within a limited budget, prefer to avoid the cost associated with a professional installation team, and are open to taking on the application yourself, opting for floor paint becomes the more favorable choice for achieving an upgraded appearance.

Concrete staining, while a simpler and more affordable option, mainly focuses on color enhancement and falls short in terms of overall protection and visual transformation. Ultimately, the choice between these two methods will depend on your specific needs, desired look, and budget.

If you are interested in getting a free, no-obligation quote for a Floor Shield concrete coating, scroll down on this page.