Rust-Oleum Concrete Etch to Use Before Coating Your Floor — -

Rust-Oleum Concrete Etch to Use Before Coating Your Floor - -

The Bottom Line: It works well without a toxic smell. Much better than using muriatic acid.

Concrete etching liquid is used generally when one wants to paint or coat your concrete floor which is generally the garage floor for homeowners and for commercial uses, auto dealerships, auto parts stores and any place that wants a nice looking coated concrete floor.

For our purposes we coated our 3-car garage floor with Rust-Oleum’s Epoxy Industrial Strength floor coating that was gray with sprinkles. This has given it a very clean look and gives the garage a wow factor.

However to get to this point, one must etch the concrete floor before attempting to coat the floor and this is where this product enters the scene.

What It Is

Rust-Oleum Concrete Etch comes in a one pound box containing a bag of small white citric acid crystals that when mixed will etch 250 square feet of concrete.

I know everyone who is reading this understands what etching means but if not, etching is to make the surface rough for the coating material to adhere to.

Safety, Fumes, and the Environment

Rust-Oleum claims that this is environmentally friendly unlike that of muriatic acid where the fumes are strong when you open the bottle. Rust-Oleum also claims this product will not harm grass or plants and does not produce dangerous acids or fumes. According to their safety data sheet that prolonged usage can cause respiratory tract irritation. It will irritate your eyes if your eyes become in contact with the liquid so to be extra safe you should wear protective eyewear. It can irritate your skin so to be extra safe you should wear gloves.

Preparing to Use Concrete Etch

If you have new concrete you must let your concrete cure for at least 28 days. Then clean, generally easiest with a pressure washer the floor with a suitable detergent or in case of a garage that has been used, a degreasing solution and then rinse thoroughly.

We used a pressure washer on our new home and on our former home we used mineral spirits to remove grease, then used the pressure washer with detergent.

If you have a previously coated floor, this product is not for you as it is only intended for use on bare concrete floors. In order for the coating product to adhere to the concrete, your floor must be free of any sealer or curing agents. You can test the floor to see if yours has been previously sealed, by sprinkling some water on the concrete. If the water beads up rather than soak into the floor, then some other product is on the floor and this product will not be effective and you would have to use a more extreme method of prepping your floor.

Items to Have to use Concrete Etch

You will need a 2-gallon bucket, floor squeegee, water, a stiff bristle floor brush and for those who are sensitive to any type of stronger odors, a mask, and for extra safety protection, gloves.


It is best to use the concrete etch when the concrete is damp but not puddles of water. Mix the entire 1-pound contents into the 2 gallons of water in your bucket.

Rust-Oleum Concrete Etch to Use Before Coating Your Floor - -

Our Experience with the Application

According to the instructions, the temperature inside the garage needs to be 60 — 85 degrees F. Our garage is 920 square feet inside so we bought 4 boxes since each covers 250 square feet. We made sure to open the garage doors and the back man door for ventilation.

After mixing the solution, we started at the door that leads inside the home and worked our way back to the garage doors so we could hose off our shoes or refill our bucket. We each had a stiff floor brush and put the bucket of solution in between us and worked the solution into the concrete ensuring that the floor remained wet and giving the area where the vehicles park extra attention. The better that the floor is prepared properly, the better the coating will adhere to the concrete and last longer.

We each took of the garage working on areas of 10′ x 10′ sections at a time. After we completed each 10′ x 10′ section, we would rinse thoroughly using our floor brushes, which ensures all contaminates are washed away. Then we removed excess water with a floor squeegee. After all the sections of the garage have been completed in this manner, we re-rinsed the entire garage and used the floor squeegee again.

After the floor is dry, we took our fingers on the concrete and checked for any white residue that would look like dust or powder or white film. If any is detected you would have to rinse once again before attempting to coat the floor. We got lucky and did not find any white residue. The concrete was now rough, clean and free of white residue so we proceeded to coat the floor.

This product worked great as intended in etching our concrete floor for preparation for coating. I really was expecting an overwhelming odor and fumes when we were etching but luckily Rust-Oleum made it where it was a tolerable experience. I have used bathroom products that were way worse than these fumes. We did take safety precautions and wore old shoes and pants and removed our shoes before entering the home so any chemicals on our shoes would not enter the floors inside the home.

We also used cheap buckets since after completion of the whole process from etching to coating you will not want to reuse.

I do highly recommend this product and even though some people use muriatic acid instead for the etching process, this product does not even come close to the fumes and odors that muriatic acid puts out and is much safer for the environment and you.

Recommend this product?

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