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depotdad   , 27

from Rising Fawn


Staining or Painting Concrete: Avoiding Black Splotches

My husband and I learned the hard way - don't apply stain or paint to concrete until it is completely dry. But I'm getting ahead of myself. You need to hear the whole story so you can learn from our mistakes and and also learn from how we corrected them.
We decided to install an in-ground therapy pool for me. Basically it is a swim spa without the feature that makes it a swim spa. In other words, we have a really big in ground hot tub. We went this route because we wanted something deep enough for me to hang from an inner tub (this elongates my spine and gives me pain relief) but small enough so that we could afford to heat it for most of the year. If Your planning to paint your house, have a look at the paint sprayers reviews at depotdad.


The plan seemed good and, now that we're past all the traumas of installation, we're enjoying it. But one of the problems we had with the pool came when we put down the concrete. The man we hired to do the concrete overheard us talking about how we wanted to finish the pool. We were unsure as to whether we wanted to paint the concrete or how we wanted to proceed. He piped in that he and his partner, who we hadn't yet met, also did refinishing work, and that they could stain our concrete for us for a very reasonable price. He showed us brochures of what stained concrete would look like and told us how it would wear much better than paint.

The pictures on the brochures certainly looked appealing. I wanted to do something to the concrete. We had a small yard, and having the concrete unfinished - just plain concrete - to me was going to be distracting from the flowers. I wanted something green since our pool had taken away so much of the grass.

Mistake number one: we had checked out this man's reputation for laying concrete, but we never investigated his partner who was the one who did the staining work.

The concrete was laid properly and everything seemed to go according to plan. One end of the pool was in more shade than the other, so it wasn't drying nearly as quickly as the other. The man who was to do the staining work checked on it a couple of times and told me that he'd be back when that end was dry.

Apparently there wasn't much concrete staining work going on in Mobile because the man came back a few days later and declared the concrete was dry enough. It didn't look any drier to me, and I told him so. I had a friend with me, and she told him that she didn't think it was dry enough either, but he assured us both that it was plenty dry enough. He talked down to me a bit, gave me that "little woman" kind of voice.

Mistake number two: not telling him that I was the boss, not a "little woman".

He did the work and then he wanted to be paid. I wrote him a check.

Mistake number three: writing him a check. I had a bad feeling about it when I was was writing that check, but I did it anyway. That was a mistake.

The end of the pool in the sun turned a lovely shade of stained green. Stained concrete really is much prettier than painted concrete.

However, the concrete at the end of the pool that was in the shade had turned black.

I quickly called the contractor who assured me that in a few days this would all fix itself. A few days passed and we still had black concrete. A few more days, and then a few more, and our concrete remained as black as the night sky. The few areas that peeped through green made one think of moldy bread. It was hideous.

The contractor began to refuse to take our calls. Why should he? He had our money. What could we do? Sue him? The amount of money we paid him wasn't worth a law suit and he knew it. Besides, any contractor worth his salt had his business account separate from his personal account, and considering how anxious this man was to get the job done we figured he probably had zero in his business account.

The partner who had done the actual concrete work came and looked at the job. He admitted then that he hadn't been working with this other fellow long and that he had taken him at his word when he said he knew what he was doing. He apologized and said he would try to get him to do the right thing by us. That was the last we ever heard of him.

We were on our own. We did some research, and we learned that to fix this problem was going to require respirators and lots of chemicals that could kill surrounding plants. This did not sound promising.

Then, one day, I just happened to enter a pool supply store. I don't usually go into such places as our spa uses bromine, not chlorine. But the person I was with wanted to go in, and I'm not the kind of person who waits in the car. I browsed as the other person bought what she came for. Suddenly something in the reduced-for-quick-sale bin caught my eye. It was etching acid for painting concrete around your pool. This chemical was for use on old concrete; it prepared the concrete for paint.

I read the directions and nowhere did it say we needed to wear a respirator nor did it caution against using around plants. Granted, we wouldn't be able to stain our concrete if we used this product, but I'd already had my doubts on that score. Maybe, just maybe, if we applied a simple etching we could paint over the stain - and the ugly black splotches - and put this whole mess behind us.

So, for a few dollars I purchased the etching chemicals from the reduced-for-quick-sale bin. I told my husband my plan, and he agreed it was a good one. (at this point he was agreeable to anything that would keep me from bursting into tears every time I looked at the pool)

We applied the chemical as directed which was very easy to do - basically, it required mixing with water, putting it on the concrete with a paint brush, waiting a few minutes, and then sweeping it off with a hard broom. The sweeping action helped to spread it around more. We waited a couple of more minutes and then we simply rinsed the mixture off with a hose. Simple.

The black spots were still there, of course, but now the glossiness of the stain was gone and the concrete would now accept paint. We purchased paint especially formulated for concrete and painted it ourselves. Voila! No more black spots.

We learned a lot from this experience, none the least checking out contractors before we hire them. In our case, it wasn't enough to check out the contractor who put down the concrete - we should have investigated further when it came time to hire the man who was to do the staining.

There is a rule that can not be broken: Do NOT apply paint or stain on concrete that has not completely dried. Unless, of course, you want black splotches.