How to Stain Concrete

Stain A Concrete Walkway DIY


A few years ago the city was tearing up a section of sidewalks in our neighborhood.  I asked the guys if I could have the leftover pieces for my garden.  They happily set them in place for me.  Nice workmen!!

Stain A Concrete Walkway DIY

The “raw” concrete looked fine but I wanted them to look more like flagstone.  You can see that I painted them about 10 years ago but it chipped off over the years of wear and tear.  This time I didn’t want to use chemicals or acid because I have thyme planted between the steps.  I also have kids and dogs running along this path so I wanted to keep it as natural as I could.

While walking our enormous dog around the neighborhood I noticed redish-brown spots on the sidewalk where fertilizer was sprinkled on the grass and left marks on the sidewalk.  The light bulb went off!  I could “fertilize-stain” my own sidewalk!

Stain A Concrete Walkway DIY

Here are two pieces of concrete sidewalk before.  You can see little bits of painted surface on the sides.


This is the MAGIC ingredient!  It is the fertilizer Ironite.  A small bag costs about $9.00, and you can pick it up at Home Depot.

Stain A Concrete Walkway DIY

I wet down the concrete with the water hose and then liberally sprinkled on the Ironite.  Make sure it doesn’t clump up in any one area.  I used my gloved hands to spread it into a thin layer.  Then I used the water hose to slightly wet it down again.

How to Stain a Concrete Walkway DIY

You can see what the walkway looks like during the  process.

Leave it on for 24-48 hours to really change the surface and then use A LOT of water to rinse it off.  You may have to use a scrub brush to get it all off.  Make sure you water any plants around so that the fertilizer doesn’t burn it.  I had no problems with burning at all.

How to Stain a Concrete Walkway DIY

Time for a hot cup of joe?  Not yet!!  Here is the crazy part.  I used espresso grounds from Starbucks and some vegetable oil to create some depth and extra color.

How to Stain a Concrete Walkway DIY

You are going to need a really inexpensive brush.  A stiff brush that you can find at a discount store.  The worst paint brush you can find because you need to be able to “scrub” the oil and coffee grounds into the concrete.

How to Stain a Concrete Walkway DIY

You can see how it looks shiny and dirty at this point.  That is perfect!!  It will only look shiny until the oil soaks in.  (overnight)

How to Stain a Concrete Walkway DIY

This is what it looks like up close.  I think it looks great!

How to Stain a Concrete Walkway DIY

This took two days, a half of a bag of Ironite, some espresso grounds and vegetable oil.  Done!!

How to Stain a Concrete Walkway DIY

Here is the 3 pound bag of Ironite. You can have it shipped from Amazon!

Leave a comment


  • thriftdee June 29, 2015 at 08:37pm

    We live in Colorado and the weather here definitely takes it toll on the concrete. I just restain it every other year.

  • Michelle June 07, 2015 at 02:07pm

    Does the coffe stain and oil wear off?

  • JOANIE June 20, 2014 at 12:02pm

    Great idea. I got deck stain on my cement patio below my deck and can’t get it off so I am going to do this….cheaper then cement stain

  • debi April 29, 2014 at 05:33pm

    I was googling to see if this was even an option I had in my crazy head. . . I have already spent hundreds of dollars, countless hours of back braking work to *undo* a project gone wrong. I used Quick-Crete concrete stain on my concrete patio. . . what a bleeping joke. . . it was a mess to apply, it looked horrible during and after, made the patio slick when wet, showed every little step, hair, grass blade. . . so disappointed, mad and frustrated. And it was a good thing I didn’t love it. . . after the first winter it chipped and flaked off. . .

    Yesterday on my way into the garage I noticed a *rusty* spot where an iron flower pot once sat, the color(s) were exactly what I want on the patio. I have used ironite in the past and know what it can do to concrete if it gets on it. . . so I decided to google and see if there were ilistrations on how to do it. . . I knew it would be simple, cheap and look good too. . .

    I am however, kind of nervous about doing anything to the patio after all the work I have done to get the bad stuff off. But our patio butts up to a double-wide driveway and it is such a sea of concrete, I want to break it up.

    I will think about it for a while to decide, but your concrete made me a believer. . .

  • Vanessa Berryman September 15, 2013 at 01:32pm

    Looks great I wonder what a whole 10’x12′ section would look like

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  • Linda Baker Marcella September 03, 2013 at 01:05am

    Neat! Who would have thought, but it makes perfect sense. The end result looks so natural. Thanks for sharing.

  • Pam May July 13, 2013 at 06:24pm

    This is a question really…we have a concrete porch that has been painted…do you think we could remove the paint and use the same idea on it?…I love the outcome and think it would be beautiful on the full porch…thank you for your idea!

  • Mary July 13, 2013 at 04:08pm

    This is brilliant!!! Awesome & Fabulous all at once. 🙂 Thank you for posting it.. I have a really big idea for it. 🙂

  • Debbie July 07, 2013 at 11:54pm

    I am going to try this around our pool. We just extended our concrete and it doesn’t match the old. Instead of paying BIG $$$$ to have them treated to match.

  • Susie July 07, 2013 at 11:38pm

    I have stained several concrete floors in our home using something else no-toxic. It also offers a wider range of colors to choose from although I think your ironite looks beautiful and very natural. I use Tints-All – the colorant that is used to give paints their pigment. It is just color in a water base, highly concentrated. Mix to the desired dark or lightness and put it into a hand sprayer or spray bottle depending on the size of what you’re staining. Overlap several color, let some pool, let some be larger drops or even splash on with a brush. Many effects and color variations.

  • Jim July 07, 2013 at 08:58pm

    Looks great. … one of the unknowns about Ironite is “how much” is not safe.. there are lead and arsenic in this product and the manufacturers say it is safe.. “it will pass right through your body”.. I don’t believe it.. can you say Monsanto? LOL . Young children and pets should not walk on this product when the ironite is present as it will add to any lead or arsenic contamination they may pic up .. lets say eating rice.. which has arsenic in personally unacceptable amounts.. anyhow. a suggestion to research for yourself. I am going to do this on our patio. .however I will work to collect any residual product .. and really dilute the areas with much water. .repeatedly. so. due diligence for your choices!.. thanks so much for the creative ideas!!

  • susie July 07, 2013 at 07:15pm

    you deserve an award of some kind! what a clever idea to recycle, reuse, repurpose and reduce something that would end up in our landfills. love the way you create from scratch!

  • Janice Alexander July 07, 2013 at 04:38pm

    I had mismatched stepping stones, some round, octognall and 24″ sq in different colors…so I just rolled on Cabot Cement Stain…Burnt Hickory….turned out beautifully…then I did the same on my patio….in circles and other shapes…to cover up the bad spots!

  • Jaye @ Just Tryin' to Make Cents of it All July 06, 2013 at 06:11pm

    We will be pulling up the vinyl tile in the garden center store that I work at and will be staining the concrete floor using your method. I’ve always known about the fertilizer but not the coffee ground/vegetable oil add-on. Thanks for posting this and give me inspiration!

  • Cheryl July 06, 2013 at 12:38pm

    Love it! I will do this Thanks for sharing

  • thriftdee July 04, 2013 at 10:06pm

    Mary, The color is from the Iron in the fertilizer. It is orangy-brown. I’m not sure how you would get blue…
    Alicia, You could walk on it but I wouldn’t want to track it into the house because it will stain!!

  • Mary Judice July 04, 2013 at 06:45pm

    I noticed in one photo that the finished stone looks very orange colored. Is this true to the color that you ended up with? I would like mine to be more of a blue or dark maroon. How can I come up with that color?

  • Alicia July 04, 2013 at 01:47pm

    Love this idea! During the staining process can the area be walked on? I would love to do this but the walkway I have in mind is in the front of the house that is used daily for our coming and goings…would also love to do this around my pool area! It’s starting to look rather bad! Thanks for any help! Happy Fourth! God bless America….

  • Linda July 03, 2013 at 04:50pm

    Thanks for sharing, that looks really great.

  • thriftdee July 03, 2013 at 03:59pm

    If you don’t mind square stepping stones, you can pick up concrete ones at Home Depot or Walmart for about $1.60 a square! Good luck, and let me know how it goes!!

  • Robin July 03, 2013 at 03:56pm

    Shut the front door!! This is great and just in time to save me a TON of money. I was going to buy flagstone to build a walkway around flower beds. $16.00 for 1 piece mind you… ughhh But, no more. Will buy concrete mix, make my own stones and use your method to stain them. Thanks!! You just saved me a ton of money.

  • Celia Albert July 03, 2013 at 02:42pm

    That is brilliant and looks great! Don’t know how you thought about using the coffee grounds and veg. oil though. Wish I had some concrete to try it on but will keep this so may can try it in the future!

  • Carolyn July 03, 2013 at 12:41pm

    This is genius.

  • Kathe July 02, 2013 at 01:34am

    Shut. Up. Dee, this is genius! I always see sidewalks where the homeowner has gotten iron fertilizer on their sidewalk but, I’ve never thought to use it for good, not evil! Pinned! You MUST share this at my party going on now!!