Designing with Colored Concrete


From translucent to opaque, the color choices for concrete are endless, thereby allowing you to achieve different looks with colored concrete. Colored concrete can be made to look like different materials such as brick, slate or even tile and colors can range from earth tones to vibrant hues. Colored concrete with finishing techniques like stamping and troweling may also be used to create a decorative pattern, is an affordable technique that provides consistent color and may be used in many design applications, from driveways, outdoor counters, fire pits and built-in outdoor furniture.

Powder Pigments
Colored concrete can be achieved through mix-added powder pigments before pouring concrete. Powder pigments which are available in liquid or mix-ready bags and are often made from recycled material, are added directly to the concrete mixer prior to pouring. Coloring concrete with powder pigments easily provides uniform color since most bags contain a precise measurement of pigments. Colors for pigments range from earth tones of browns, tans, warm grays, blues and greens.

Staining concrete is a method of coloring after the concrete has cured. This can be done by acid staining or by water-based staining. Acid staining uses a mixture of acid stain and water which controls the depth of color. The chemical reaction of the stain on the concrete which is applied using a broom or walk-behind scrubber and then finished with a sealer, creates a unique marbled effect. Water-based stain may even be mixed to create custom colors and is free of solvents and harmful acid, making application safer. The range of colors for acid staining consists of subtle tones of tans, browns and blue-green. Water-based stain is available in a variety of colors, as well as black, white and metallic tints.

Pros and Cons
Concrete is a great material because it is durable and not easily damaged. Colored concrete is an inexpensive look to achieve as it may be done by do-it-yourselfers. Many types of colored concrete powder and stains are available that do not have harmful ingredients, thereby making colored concrete environmentally friendly. However, cement is susceptible to moisture, so if you want the color to last, it's important to keep pigmented concrete well sealed at all times and to periodically inspect the surface for defects. Likewise, reapplying a coat of sealer must be done on a regular basis, especially on outdoor colored concrete, not only to prevent color from fading, but to protect it from UV exposure and other environmental factors. Moreover, you can't change the color of concrete once it is chosen, so it is important that the right color is used the first time.

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