How to Stain a Concrete Driveway with Xylene-Based Paint

Many times homeowners will e-mail me from the Ask the Experts Page for advice on different painting projects. I try to answer all questions in a timely manner. This particular homeowner wanted to paint his concrete driveway using a Xylene-based paint. Here’s the conversation we had.

“I just want to put a VERY GOOD quality paint on my drive. I was thinking a Xylene-based paint. Going to a little extra trouble. Hiring a sub-contractor that uses a walk-behind cement saw. A 3' diagonal cut in a wide 3 stall driveway. There will be 3 bands across the driveway along with a band of 16-18" on each side; top to bottom. A slightly lighter color on the bands. I will finish the job with a gloss finish. Xylene-based. What is the best paint I could use?”

I need to know how you are going to prepare your driveway for the stain before I can make any recommendations. Has your driveway ever been painted, or is it bare concrete?

“It was poured in 2004 and has never been coated with anything.”

Once you have your lines cut in your driveway, this is what you need to do. First, pressure clean with a bleach and water solution to remove dirt and algae. Then do an acid wash withmuraticacid. Pour the acid into a container that has water in it. Be sure and wear a respirator.

The best thing to use is a flowering water container with a spout. Then spread the acid/water solution over the driveway. As it is poured onto the driveway the acid/water mix should be brushed into the concrete with a coarse bristle broom. Do this to the entire driveway. As the acid hits the concrete it will start to smoke, then dissipate.

Then pressure clean the driveway thoroughly again, take your time and do a good job.

Depending on where you live, wait at least four days before you apply your first coat of stain. I always tape a piece of plastic to the driveway in a small area, where the sun hits it to see if condensation forms under the plastic. If it does, then the concrete is not dry enough. In that case, wait two more days. During this whole process do not drive on the driveway.

Once the driveway is completely dry then apply your Xylene based stain, but be sure and thin the first coat (1 quart of Xylene per gallon of stain). This way the stain will soak into the concrete.

Allow to dry overnight, then apply a second coat of stain.

I do recommend putting anti-skid into the last coat of stain, otherwise when your driveway is wet it will be extremely slippery and someone will fall, especially if it is shiny.

Buy your stain at either Sherwin Williams orPPG.

“Ron, I can't tell you how much I appreciate your advice on my project. I am sort of a DIYer, for some things. The only part of this job I am planning on hiring out is having someone cut the concrete with a walk behind saw.

Just for giggles & grins, I'll send you a picture of my finished product, which is going to be a few weeks away.
Thanks again!”