Colored concrete applications are not as complicated of a task as you may think. Contractors and artists alike will often use the techniques below on ornamental items, patios, driveways, walkways, and other outdoor spaces. You can find colored concrete additives available in a wide range of hues, from earthy browns and greens to vibrant blues and reds. Below, we will run down the different types of colorants available, and the process of coloring concrete.
Colored Concrete: Why?
Colored concrete is, in and of itself, the benefit. Attempting to paint, using a brush or rattle can, to cover up the natural gray color will likely leave the finished product needing to be revisited for touch ups in the future. Concrete is a porous material that needs to release moisture when exposed. Using surface paint, will likely temporarily hold strong, but will ultimately fail. Both integral and topical pigments will penetrate deeper than the paint method mentioned above. Oh, one last benefit, you will find a significant resistance to fading and chipping, making it an excellent choice for outdoor and high touch uses.
Types of Colorants, Which?
There are two types of colorants available for coloring concrete: integral color and topical color.
- Integral colorants are mixed into the concrete before it is poured or casted, making the colorant solid throughout. This technique is highly desirable when casting outdoor tiles, plaques and other high touch items. Integral Color Concrete is a coloring admixture also known as “Concrete Pigment”. Integral color pigments can be synthetic or natural iron oxide powder that acts like a dye for the wet concrete.
- Topical color is applied to the surface of the concrete after it has cured. It will be applied once the concrete has fully cured. Commonly, the topical application will soak into the surface of the concrete locking into the surface pores at a depth of a dimes thickness. The major difference and benefit of the topical application is having the ability to control the colorant vibrance and where it goes on the piece. With the integral colorants, you are going to get a solid color throughout the thickness of the piece.
The Process of Coloring Concrete:
Topical colorants are the PacMold favorite. Repurpose a spray bottle that has an adjustable nozzle, paint brushes, sponges and even paper towels. Mix and blend colors directly on the surface and play. Just get in there and PLAY!
We would use the integral method for large scale projects like patios, walls and tiles where chipping may challenge the color. You chip it and the color remains. Use that to your advantage if you have as need for a solid colored concrete.
**Each product will have a specific set of instructions. Please note the volume of product being used up against the manufacturers recommended ratios.
Coloring concrete is a ton of fun and makes for a wildly artistic experience. Put on some grungy clothes and get jiggy with the process. Oh, keep in mind, that touching these colorants with bare hands is not recommended and keeping your eyes protected is strongly recommended.