Cleaning and Prep
You should not use acids or etchers to clean. You can use citric cleaners, Xylene, lacquer thinners, strippers, and cleaners that do not contain a heavy alkali.
Sanding the surface if needed is acceptable, whether by hand or with larger machines from rental stores, such as commercial floor sanders and floor buffing machines with sanding pads. However, it will reduce the coverage of the stain and sealer.
Once you have cleaned the floor, it is time to make any patch repairs that may be needed. We recommend that you do not patch small cracks or imperfections as they add character to the floor, but you decide for yourself.
We do not recommend using a new cotton mop as it could leave fuzz on the floor. Although a cotton mop that has been used a few times does tend to have most of the fuzzies out of it. You may choose to instead use a synthetic mop.
You can use Xylene or strippers for paints and a Mastic Remover, glue remover, or citrus stripper for sticky's. Use strippers for curing agents and waxes.
You can use a power washer or water hose when doing a project outside. Just be careful of splashing.
Pay attention to whether the water easily soaks into the concrete or not. (Especially important on new concrete.) If the water soaks right in, then the stain will too. However, if the water has a hard time penetrating the surface of the concrete then the finish is too tight and the pores must be opened for the stain to work well. You can do this by using a rented floor buffing machine with the black aggressive scrubber pads during final clean and rinse.
If you have pulled up carpet, removing the tack strips along the edge may cause areas that need to be patched. If you score a border around the edge you can then stain the border a darker color, or do more coats on the border than the rest. This will help in camouflaging the patch work. Alternatively for small divots and holes, you can not patch them, then after you've stained and neutralized, you can use a clear epoxy to fill the divot and smooth out even with the surface of the concrete, allow to dry/cure and then seal.
Scoring patterns and/or Multiple coats of stain strategically placed can help hide patches.
ImportantTip. Ensure you have an entry/exit point with a means to clean off or remove your shoes, such as clean towels to step out onto. This is twofold, to keep stain from tracking where you don't want it, such as you're sidewalk or carpet. Secondly, to keep from tracking dirt back into the area.
Alternatively, you can use disposable shoe covers each time you enter/exit the room.
After you final clean the concrete, it is time to tape off and cover the bottom of all walls, doors, and anything else that might possibly get stain on it. Protect vegetation as well.
Tip. We recommend using plastic and tape that can be bought on a roll with the tape already attached to the plastic. The plastic is folded up to about 4". Once you tape along the bottom edge, the plastic unfolds to about 2' tall, which can then be secured with random strips of painters tape