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Adding Color to Concrete

The natural color in concrete varies from steel gray to blinding white and, let’s face it, these colors aren’t too exciting. Adding a little color to your drab concrete will definitely elevate your mood and will certainly enhance your environment.

Whether you have an existing patio or driveway you’d like to enhance with color or you’re doing your homework for future plans, this article should help answer your basic questions.

Add Color to Existing Concrete via Tinted Sealers

Tinted sealers offer two benefits: they seal your concrete and they provide a measure of color. Water-based and solvent sealers can both be tinted. There are two ways you can accomplish the tinting process:

  • Use a pre-tinted sealer with limited colors.
  • Use tint concentrates with a wide selection of colors that is added to a clear sealer at the job site.

As far as the color effects are concerned, you can expect a slightly translucent appearance that will be more evident with water-based tinted sealers than solvent-based. There are multiple levels of gloss and opacity; solvent-based sealers are glossier than water-based. Water-based tinted sealers should not be sprayed on because the pigment could separate from the sealer due to the pressure and spray tip. Material cost runs $0.07 to $0.25 per square foot depending on the type of sealer.

(Side note: Once you make the step and color your concrete with a tinted sealer, keep in mind that it will need an annual resealing to keep its color.)

Color Before Concrete Is Poured

If you’re planning to pour a concrete patio or new driveway and you want to add color to make it appear earthy, you can add color pigments to cement-based mix and viola, you’ll have color. Pigments come in powder, liquid, and granular forms and all are equally efficient.

Because you’re mixing pigments to the concrete, it’s easy to apply different doses of pigment or water to the mix and when you do this you end up with different colors. There are also different colors of cement as discussed earlier that can also change the color of your project. Make sure to use the same cement from the same lot throughout your project to keep a batch-to-batch consistency; otherwise you’ll end up with one side of your patio darker than the other side.

(Side note: You will need to clean and reseal your floor periodically or the color will change over time. But, even if you do neglect your floor with a good cleaning and sealing, the original color will be restored.)

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