Tom Ralston, Tom Ralston Concrete - Santa Cruz, Calif.
A super-simple application technique that achieves a classic old-world finish, inspired by the multihued patina found in the palaces and cathedrals of Europe.
- L.M. Scofield Lithochrome Chemstain Classic acid stains: Weathered Bronze, Padre Brown
- Ammonia solution: 2 ounces ammonia in 4 gallons of water
- SuperStone Concrete Sealer
- Power-wash your surface thoroughly. The surface pictured above was hard-troweled, but this effect works just as well over a textured surface.
- Wet your surface down with a mist of water. This accomplishes two things: It will cool down your surface on a hot day (which will keep your stains from evaporating) and it will also help your stains run and bleed, getting the natural look we're after.
- Once you've misted lightly (you don't want a lot of standing water on the surface), put down coats of Weathered Bronze and Padre Brown stains simultaneously across the whole surface, even the vertical faces of steps. Keep in mind, as you work across the surface, not to let the edges of the stained area dry out before you've finished the coats - if they do, and you try to continue to stain from that dry edge, the color won't blend evenly and will turn out blotchy.
- You want to saturate the surface pretty thoroughly. As the stain settles, gravity will pull it towards the drains in a patio or down the faces of a staircase, leaving natural swirls and rivulets of color.
- Once your base coats have sat for 12 hours, wash and neutralize with the ammonia solution and check for areas that have not been stained. After the wash has dried, spray another coat of stain as needed in areas that did not color, which may include the faces of the stairs. This second coat needs to be put on with a light hand so your colors don't end up oversaturated (unless, of course, oversaturated is what your client is going for).
- Let your second coat dry for another 12 hours.
- Wash the surface vigorously with a hose and jet nozzle.
- Using the ammonia solution, scrub the surface clean, neutralizing the second application of stains.
- Let dry for 12 to 24 hours. Make sure it's completely dry or your sealer will fail.
- Seal with the SuperStone sealer, which will give it a bit of a sheen and really make your colors pop.