Staining a concrete walkway is a low cost option for adding significant curb appeal. With a few simple tools, you can stain your walkway for as little as 50 cents per square foot. The most important thing to remember is, once the process has begun you cannot stop. For this reason, set aside a whole day to staining, so you will not be rushed or distracted. Concrete which has been sealed will not accept stain. The sealed layer of concrete will need to be removed, in order to proceed with staining.
Step 1 - Cleaning and Repair
Any imperfections which exist on the concrete walkway need to be either removed or fixed, unless you would like them enhanced by the stain. Much like the grains in wood, markings, scratches, cracks and the like will be brought out by the stain. Use the wire brush, paint scraper, or quick drying concrete to either fill or buff out any markings or damage in the walkway. Clean the walkway of all debris and dirt, to prepare for staining. Products like TSP work the best, in a 1-cup to 4-gallons of water solution. Allow the area to fully dry, before moving on to Step 2.
Step 2 - Tarping
Use duct tape and plastic tarp to protect any plants, steps, furnishings or the household from unwanted stain. The tarps should cover at least 18 inches on each side, and be firmly placed, to avoid spray.
Step 3 - Application
You are dealing with a low grade acid, so be sure to wear protective clothing, face mask, gloves and goggles. Mix the stain as per manufacturer guidelines, and apply with a paint sprayer to the entire walkway. Do not do the walkway in sections, since this can create lines. Move from left to right, and then back again, spraying the entire length. Once sprayed, use a broom to scrub the stain into the porous concrete. If the walkway is large, have an assistant scrub with the broom, so the stain does not dry before the broom can be used. Once brushed in, apply a second coat of stain, to eliminate any brush strokes and give an even appearance.
Step 4 - Baking Soda and Water
Mix 4-cups of baking soda with 2-gallons of water, and mop the solution onto the walkway. Be sure not to step onto the stained area until the baking soda solution can neutralize the stain. Once applied to the entire walkway, ring the mop out and absorb any standing water.
Step 5 - Sealant
Once the concrete has dried for at least 24 hours, apply a sealer to the area, as per manufacturer guidelines. Use a paint roller to apply the sealant, allow it to dry, and apply a second coat. The color will be brought out in the walkway with the sealant, so do not worry if the stain appears chalky from the baking soda.