Coloring Concrete: Taking Flooring to the Next Level
Sustainable and easy to care for, concrete floors work beautifully inside and out; but you don’t have to stick with a plain gray slab. Concrete accepts pigment beautifully, and coloring allows it to coordinate with any number of decorating schemes and even hides imperfections and unsightly stains. The ability to dye, stain, or add pigment also highlights one of the rarely-discussed benefits of this flooring type: you can change the color any time you want without replacing the flooring.
From bold shades to natural tints that blend beautifully with their surroundings, the following are the most common ways to color concrete:
Stains: Available in acid or water-based products, stains apply directly to existing concrete floors, whether they’re several years old or recently poured and cured. They react chemically with the calcium hydroxide in concrete, thus permanently altering the natural gray color. Acid stains come in earth-tone shades and pastel blues and greens, working beautifully indoors and out. They resist fading exceptionally well, although application is a bit lengthy; after staining the concrete, you need to scrub the floor to neutralize the acid. Water-based stains come in every color imaginable and offer a shorter application method: no scrubbing required. They last just as long as acid products, penetrating the concrete for a fade-resistant color.
Dyes: Applied with a sprayer, roller, brush, or sponge after the floor is poured, concrete dyes come in an endless array of colors, allowing you to mix two or more shades to find the perfect one. Unlike stains, dyes don’t chemically react with the concrete; instead, they simply add color to the floor. The dye absorbs directly into the concrete, making the application process relatively fast. Certain colors are prone to fading, so if you’re dying an exterior concrete floor or an interior space that receives a lot of direct sunlight, choose products meant to resist UV exposure.
New Floors: Add color to new concrete floors with integral colors that blend into wet concrete or a dry shake hardener that rests on top of freshly poured floors. The former is available in a range of earth tones and pastels, while the latter is available in a wide array of muted shades.
For the DIYer, water-based stains and dyes tend to produce the best results with limited problems. For more great color results and designs, or when opting for acid stains or products applied to fresh concrete, a qualified professional always gives the best results.