The Beauty of Concrete Colors – Achieving “Perfectly Imperfect”

Sundek Decorative Concrete Wood Planks

 

Let’s talk about color systems and color mineral oxide powders used in decorative concrete projects. (We will tackle stains and dyes in a future blog.)

DID YOU KNOW?  

Exterior concrete deck work and interior concrete floors will usually achieve their color from either integral color mineral oxide powders or liquid acrylics which are added at the concrete batch plant or in the concrete truck in very precise dosages to insure a consistent color on the job.

WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?  

If not properly executed or done with even the best of good intentions, this can lead to color inconsistencies in your concrete. Yikes!  Not every load of concrete is always consistent from batch to batch in water – cement – aggregate or air and most definitely the human finishing skills become a huge factor once the concrete leaves the powder form.   Concrete will also dry and cure at different rates according to sunlight exposure, temperatures and a host of other weather related factors.   Another color process for either interior concrete floors or exterior slabs are the “dust-on” materials which are fine colored mineral oxide powders that are hand broadcasted over the surface of the fresh concrete as it is being finished. The color is much more consistent and controlled than with integral color but the final results are still in the hands of the skilled finishers.

WHAT DOES ALL THIS HAVE TO DO WITH DECORATIVE CONCRETE COATINGS?!?!  

Glad you asked!!!  The “experience factor” of the concrete finisher who poured your original driveway, walkway, pool deck, and more will show the reoccurring color message in any decorative concrete project.

HUH? NOT FOLLOWING YA FRANK…

Ok. Ok.  Stated differently… when your contractor says they are going to use mineral oxides for color in your decorative concrete project that presents a limitation in color selection and you are generally limited to the basic earth tones such as reds and umbers. If you are wanting blacks, grays, whites and pastels,  your contractor will need to use a different coloring method!  When it comes to meeting your customer expectations – particularly with exterior installations due to fading and mottling, you’ll need to select a contractor who knows which installation method will deliver your preferred color choice!

 OH… SO I CAN GET WILD AND CRAZY COLORS ON IN CONCRETE AREA?

Well….of course you can!!!  When it comes to the use of colored concrete for your decorative concrete project…what I mean to say is “Experience Really Matters” –and it usually costs a bit more money.   Go for an experienced decorative concrete contractor who has experience in the chemical process used and which installation method will achieve your desired color results!

HOW DO I MAKE SURE I WILL LIKE THE COLOR AT THE END OF MY PROJECT?  

Vineyard Wine Decorative Concrete Flooring by Sundek

Vineyard Wine Decorative Concrete Flooring by Sundek

 

Make sure the contractor you select provides samples that carry the color all the way to the complete process.  You should ask to see that sample in your home or office with the sealant on it!  Always get a sealer!  The addition of a clear coat provides a host of performance features such as beauty and ease of cleaning/maintaining into the future.   Colored concrete can be clear sealed to help bring the color – giving it more “punch”. The clear will automatically change the initial color effect by darkening and adding a gloss!

The Bottom Line:  Using mineral oxides for your next decorative concrete project can be a bit quirky and unpredictable so use an expert installer!  Remember color inconsistency is what makes your project have that custom look that is so desirable.  It results in a “one of a kind look” that our hardest-to-please customers are looking for!  Definitely not a look of perfection – Only perfectly imperfect!!

 

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