making concrete pavers and flagstonesmaking concrete pavers and flagstones

How to Add Color to your Concrete Project

Your concrete project becomes a real work of art after you add color. There are a number of ways to add color to concrete and which one you choose will depend on whether the item is already made or not.

If your project is already made, such as a stepping stone, a pot or even a whole patio, you have the following options open to you, all of which will require a thorough cleaning and probably etching as well.

1. Paint – If you thoroughly clean and etch your project, the paint should adhere well. How long it will adhere nicely is dependent on moisture. A painted pot with a plant in it will be more likely to have peeling problems than a painted door stop in the living room. But with paint, it’s so easy to find a finish you like and apply that this is a good choice for many projects.

2. Stain – You can choose either an opaque stain, which is a solid color, or you can choose semi-transparent stain. Both of these are available in high gloss or low gloss. There is also an etching stain that is designed for floors and gives an “old world” look to concrete. I noticed the floor at the new discount store in town has this floor treatment. All stains penetrate into the concrete yet can wear after enough time.

If your project is yet to be made, you have different options.

1. Paint – Yes, you can add latex paint to your concrete mix and the color will go throughout the whole casting. It must be latex paint but it can be any color or mixture of colors. This is an option that calls for a lot of testing. If you use the regular gray cement your color will be affected. Try to use white cement. If you’re using sand mix, plan extra time for testing. It will take much longer than you think to determine the right formula for the color you have in mind.

2. Dry color additives – These are added either during your mixing or sprinkled on top of your pour. You can sprinkle one color and then another color to achieve a natural stone look. This finish can wear in time also since it is a surface pigment.

3. Liquid color additives – These are mixed into your concrete before you pour and color the entire cast, not just the top. Testing is required. This is the stuff you see the guy pouring into the cement mixer just before he pours a driveway.

Another option to adding “colorfulness” to concrete is by pressing objects into the surface of your project. Mosaic tile bits, crushed glass, beads or other stones all make concrete a unique piece of artwork. This is a lot of fun but make sure no sharp edges protrude!


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