Top 5 Things to Know About Colored Concrete

Concrete is everywhere, and its usefulness is immeasurable. But sometimes you need more than its natural gray state. Thankfully there are options available if you’d like to do something more interesting with the look of your concrete. One of the most popular is applying color. However, not all color is the same, and there are certain things you should consider before you decide to go that route.

August 9, 2022

Colored concrete adds interest to any project.

Environment & Effect

One of the primary considerations for your next concrete job is to be clear on the conditions surrounding your concrete and what kind of aesthetic effect you’re hoping to achieve. Those two realities will influence the product you pick and what kind of maintenance you can expect to perform. For instance, you might opt for a colored topcoat product with a clear sealer for your garage floor, but that same product would not be ideal for concrete that’s exposed to outdoor elements.

Color Dyes

Concrete dyes are a very common color product in that they typically can be added to water or solvent, and then applied to the surface of the concrete. They tend to be the easiest to use because of their fast-drying time, and minimal cleanup, and they can be applied to existing concrete after it’s been cleaned. Because they’re not UV stable, they’re suggested for indoor use, making them perfect for residential and commercial applications, especially when vibrant colors are desired. To protect the colors and create longevity, a sealer is suggested after the color is applied.

Color Stains

Stains are normally used to tint or shade existing concrete. They’re also used to change the texture of concrete in some instances. They most often come in three types: film-forming, penetrating or acid stains. As the name suggests, film-forming stains lay on top of the concrete surface, almost like a paint. They can be prone to chipping and peeling in heavy-trafficked areas or where weather conditions are harsh. Penetrating stains absorb deep into the concrete’s surface, acting as a longer lasting option. By way of a chemical reaction, acid stains etch the surface of the concrete, leaving it with a marbled or textured appearance. That chemical reaction means that acid stains become a permanent part of the concrete and have great UV wearability. They won’t fade or peel off, which means that they’re great for use in harsher settings or when exposed to the elements.

Color Pigments

Unlike dyes and stains, pigments come in powder form and have no real way to penetrate the surface of existing concrete. That’s why they’re used exclusively as an additive to concrete mixing. Think of it like adding food coloring to batter while you’re using a hand mixer. The pigments become part of the concrete at the molecular level. This means that pigments are usually added at the batch plants so that it’s poured already having your desired color.

Maintenance Required

Although maintenance can differ slightly, there are some standard things to address to keep your colored concrete in good condition. First, keep an eye out for fluid spills or other liquids that can stain your concrete if left untreated. That means cleaning up spills right away. Next, for applications that have a sealer topcoat, be sure to assess its condition regularly. Most sealers have a suggested replacement timeframe, but areas of high traffic or harsh conditions could mean that another sealer coat is needed sooner. You also need to watch for pooling water and standing debris. Over time, these conditions can create a level of staining of their own and can even begin to degrade the stability of your concrete. Finally, and most importantly, do your homework. Using the application that’s best for the environment of your concrete will help your maintenance efforts in a major way.

Coloring your concrete is a great way to make it stand out. In fact, when it’s applied by a capable company like Four Corners Materials, it can even be used to achieve the look of a much more expensive product, like stone or marble. The key here is expertise. If you’re wanting to add a color application to your home or business, give us a call today. We can guide you through the process and even complete the project for you. We’ve had years of experience, so it’ll get done right. We look forward to your call!