When designing with concrete, many times the easiest or most natural instinct to color concrete is to use integral color. Integral color -color which is mixed in with the wet cement – is a great solution for many natural tones and to achieve color throughout the entire thickness of the slab. However, if you want more vibrant colors, you may have to use white cement (which isn’t cheap) or non-standard colors (also not cheap). So, what are the other options? Stains and dyes don’t have a long life outside, and please don’t get me started on “painting” decorative concrete with traditional paints. Stains and certain pigmented sealers can work for highlighting areas but with the understanding they will fade over time. Your other choices are overlays or color hardener. Both options give you a wide range of colors, from standard to custom. They also provide more vibrant colors. Color hardener is applied to the concrete while it is still wet and worked into the surface prior to giving the concrete it’s final finish (i.e. sweat finish, broom, etc). Contrarily, toppings are applied to cured (and prepped) concrete surfaces. The selection of which finish is dependent on traffic, design intent, finish desires, and layout. These are all pigment based options. To achieve even more variety and options, aggregates can also play a large role in decorative concrete colors and designs (which we will cover in another blog post).
To learn more, visit our Design Center in Denver or our website at http://www.coloradohardscapes.com