How To Stain And Score Concrete To Look Like Wood
Concrete is one of the most versatile materials available. It’s durable and strong, and can be used on patios, decks, porches, indoor flooring, and even countertops!
Because of concrete’s versatility, there are oodles of existing DIY techniques showing you how to transform the gray medium into something that’s visually appealing and unique.
One of these techniques is a surprisingly simple way to make concrete that looks like wood!
As with any DIY, even if you’ve settled on an effect you want to achieve, there are hundreds of different methods to achieve that look, a lot of them just as effective as the last.
For example, one method has you creating a grid pattern out of tape, a second has you staining concrete and painting the texture by hand, while another uses a “stamped” concrete technique with wood boards and manufactured stamps.
When it comes down to it, it’s really about finding your own personal preference and choosing the technique that works best for you and your home.
The concrete wood floor Delrailey Designs creates in their helpful video uses a user-friendly technique that doesn’t need a lot of fuss.
Installed in a brand new home without any previous flooring, they were able to start with a clean concrete base.
Though their tutorial is for an indoor space, this technique can work just as easily on an outdoor patio, deck, or walkway. All the materials are extremely durable, long-lasting, and waterproof (one of the benefits of any concrete DIY)!
Let's Make It
- Bristle Brush
- Cement / Drywall Mixing Attachment
- Squeeze Bottle
- Blue Tape
- Protective Filmy Paper Or Plastic
- Rounded Trowel
- Punch Tool
- Large Straight Edge / Ruler
- Rafter Angle Square
- Pressure Pump Sprayer
- Etching Solvent
- Fast-Set Epoxy
- Powdered Quartz (Optional)
- Thick, Colored Concrete
- Two Colors Of Stain
- Clear-Gloss Epoxy / Alternate Top-Coat
- Protective Sealant / Urethane
Clean The Surface
First thing’s first when making any concrete wood floor: you should always start with a clean surface!
Sweep the area free of dirt, and then vacuum all the joints and cracks. Run a screwdriver or other narrow tool along the cracks to pull out any loose debris.
Tip: If any areas on your concrete base have stains or old paint splatters, wash the surface with water and a brush, then ‘etch’ the concrete by spraying an etching solvent onto the surface and scrubbing it off.
Create Your Joint-Filling Mixture
Because concrete is a medium that needs to fully settle and form into the area it’s poured, you will need to fill all of your cracks and joints to create a clean, unbroken surface to work with.
You can’t create concrete that looks like wood if there’s a giant crack traveling vertically through your horizontal ‘wood’ boards!
To make the joint-filing mixture, Delrailey Designs mixes 24 ounces of Elite Crete E100-PT4 Gray (but you can use any other fast-set epoxy) with a little bit of quartz powder for strength.
Blend the two together in a bucket with a concrete mixer drill attachment until they’re fully combined.
Warning: At this point, you need to move fairly quickly. The longer you leave your epoxy-quartz mixture sitting in the bucket, the hotter it will become, actually starting to cook within its container.
Pour the fully blended mixture into a small squeeze bottle with a thin nozzle, the perfect tool for filling small cracks.
Fill The Joints And Cracks
A good rule of thumb when filling the cracks and joints is not to overfill them, especially on the initial pass.
Working one small section at a time, use your bottle to squeeze a small amount of the epoxy-quartz mixture into the crack, then wait a few moments for it to settle.
When you see it start to film, go back over the same area and do a second pass, filling the crack so that it’s level with the concrete surface (without overflowing).
Once all of your cracks and joints are filled, take the time to look them over, topping up gaps so that your concrete wood floor doesn’t run into future issues.
Tape The Exterior
In order to protect your baseboards and walls, tape a roll of protective plastic or filmy paper around the exterior of the room with blue tape, making sure it’s flush to the bottom of the baseboard.
If You Are Doing An Outdoor Patio
If you’re trying this technique outside on a patio rather than inside your home, place a wooden board around the edges of the porch, using screws to seamlessly attach the corners, making a frame.
Then, place wooden stakes into the ground around the outside of the frame to buttress it and hold it in place. If your porch is right against your home or a building structure, use the same protective paper taping technique as mentioned above.
Lay Down The First Section Of Concrete
For Delrailey Designs' method, you actually don’t need to use any stamps or tape to create the wooden texture, and it requires very few tools to achieve.
Working one narrow strip at a time, start by laying down a layer of easy-to-spread colored concrete, spreading it roughly with a trowel. Texture and streaks are actually ideal, so don't worry about making a smooth-as-glass surface.
Tip: If your concrete mix spreads out into puddles instead of leaving texture, you've mixed it too runny.
You may want to opt for a color that’s a bit on the lighter side, but still in the brown family so that it mimics natural wood.
Create Wood Grain Streaks With Stain
This step is to be completed while the layer of concrete is still wet. This is why you'll want to work in small sections, as the thin layer will dry quickly.
Fill a squeeze bottle with a mixture of dark brown stain and water.
Starting at one side of the concrete strip you just applied, squeeze a couple of thin lines out onto the surface to act as wood streaks. Keep the stain lines between 1-2 feet in length, all running in the direction you want your "wood grain" to go.
Scrape over the streaks a couple of times with a rounded hand trowel, using back and forth motions, following the direction of the streak (AKA wood grain).
Don’t over-spread the stain mixture. Only a couple of passes with the trowel is enough for it to blend into the concrete layer and creates a marble-y wood texture.
Tip: An old and well-used trowel is actually preferable when creating concrete that looks like wood. Any kind of bend or variation in the base helps to grab onto the surface and create more organic texture.
Continue streaking the stain ‘wood grain’ lines down the length of the concrete strip.
Complete The Rest Of The Floor
Repeat Steps 5 and 6 on the rest of the floor, working in narrow strips so that you can reach your work and spread the concrete and streaks as you go.
Always keep in mind the direction you want the "grain" to go.
Score The Concrete
One of the key things to remember when creating a concrete wood floor design is the importance of ‘drying windows’. This means that every step is heavily reliant on where the concrete is in its drying process.
To create score lines by hand without the use of a saw, you need to do it during the appropriate window.
Wait until the concrete is dry enough that it won’t be scratched or dented while you work, but is still malleable enough for you to score it by hand.
Beginning on the far side of the room, line a sturdy straight-edge ruler parallel to the wall, the distance you are from the wall determining the width you want your first wood board to be.
Tip: You can carefully measure out the width of each "plank" of wood before scoring, but as long as they are roughly the same width, some variation will add to the natural hardwood feel.
Holding the straight edge securely so that it doesn’t shift around while scoring, use a metal punch tool to create a score-line in the concrete.
Repeat this process until the entire floor has been scored with parallel wood board lines.
To create the individual wood boards, use a metal square to go back and score perpendicular lines, scattered and spaced apart like hardwood boards would be.
Clean The Surface
Before moving on to your final layer of color, use a vacuum to pick up any dust created by the scoring process. You don’t want to trap any loose cement particles under the stain.
Stain The Surface
Now is the part where your cement really starts to look like wood.
Apply a thin, antiquing coat of dark brown stain to the entire surface. You can also try other shades of stain, depending on the final look you wish to achieve.
To get a really even, smooth coat of stain without any brush marks, Delrailey Designs uses a pressure pump sprayer to apply the stain.
The aim is to cover the floor in a nice, even coat, avoiding soaking the floor, but also not missing anything.
When applying the stain, spray in the direction the wood planks, following the woodgrain so if there are any streaks they will blend into the texture of the concrete wood floor.
The Finishing Coat
We’re now in the finishing stages of our concrete wood floor! Let’s lock this bad boy in and make sure it stays vibrant for years.
Once the stain has completely dried, there are a couple of things you can do.
Delrailey Designs went over the entire surface with a glossy, clear epoxy, giving the floor a dynamic shine and a smooth texture.
A heavy shine may end up taking away the effect of real wood, so take the time to go over all of the topcoat options available to you. You may find that you prefer the look of a semi-gloss or even matte finish.
Once the first coat has dried thoroughly, apply a second coat for extra protection.
Lastly, once the final layer has had a chance to dry, remove all of the tape and edging material to reveal your masterpiece!
This method is a fantastically affordable way to DIY concrete that looks like wood. It’s an incredibly durable material, and you’ll get years and years out of your money.
But enough about what we think, what do you think of this DIY? Is it a method you’re dying to try? Or is there a better way to achieve a similar effect? Let us know in the comments!