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Concrete can be colored in a multitude of ways, turning plain gray concrete into decorative concrete. Colored concrete will balts southwest skin stain jobalways add cost to the job but it is transformational and worth the extra cost.
Concrete is an amazing building material.  It can be poured, molded, shaped, carved, stacked, sprayed, into nearly any pattern, texture, or shape you need. What is even better is that it can be nearly any color wanted as well. It can be bold or subdued, blend with the surroundings or made to stand out.
Choosing a color method can be an imposing task since there are so many choices. Some projects are easy to color the concrete upfront, and others do better when the concrete is colored later.
The upfront choices are typically integral color or color hardener. Integral color is very traditional and is simply adding a pigment to the concrete as it is mixing, either in the redi-mix truck or by hand. It is often referred to as concrete dye, though is not related to true dye at all.  It is colored all the way thru the material so is often a choice for slabs that will be subject to a lot of traffic and abuse as chips are not as noticeable. Walttools Tru Hue colors are very potent and provide a variety of colors to match most environments. Color hardener will provide a similar look except that is used after the concrete is poured and is being finished.  The installer broadcasts this specialized color pigment cement blend onto the wet surface and it is worked in at that time, giving color to the top layer of concrete. Since it is not colored all the way thru it is usually less expensive but may be more noticeable with deep chips. That product also is known to fortify the top surface a bit, hence the name “color hardener”.
Release agents. When concrete stamping with texture tools, a release agent must be used to prevent the tools from sticking and pulling the fresh concrete surface. Traditional powder release agents are colored so that they provide a contrasting color, providing an “antique” look. Although considered a “messy” product, that contrasting look really contributes to the decorative aspect of stamped concrete. Liquid release is another option and is normally clear.  This is often used when the installer plans to stain after the pour or must avoid the mess that powder release can be. Some installers go a step further and blend a small amount of the powder release into the liquid release to add some color toning as they texture. A better solution for those contractors is called Tru Tique.  It is an antiquing agent that mimics the look of powder release. It is a colored powder pigment mixture that is added to water, liberally applied to the plain textured surface, and spread around with a broom or brush.  The specialized pigment settles into the low textures and is allowed to dry. The dried look is very close to the antique look done with powder release, but without the mess. Needless to say it is becoming more and more popular.
Concrete Stains. Obviously, by nature of the word, stains will color your concrete. Stain is a general term for any sort of liquid that is applied topically to the surface and leaves behind color. Stains are either reactive or non-reactive and will have different abilities to color depending on the makeup of that surface.  Rough, smooth, indoor, outdoor, etc, all will play a factor in concrete staining. Last, and related to stains, are concrete dyes.  True dyes, not the integral color “dye” mentioned earlier.  Concrete Dyes are very deep penetrating colored solutions that are mostly used indoors and on very hard or polished concrete surfaces that are more difficult to penetrate with water based stains.   They are quite popular when doing concrete counter tops because they can be polished after applying without removing much color.

As you can see, there is alot to decide.  Take a look at each product category in closer detail and decide what will work best for you.


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