Concrete doesn't have to be gray. Two types of cement color products dye the concrete while you're mixing or finishing it, offering these and other colors: red, brown, buff, charcoal, and terra-cotta. Liquid cement color, which is mixed on-site, is the easier of the two methods: Pour the liquid dye into the water in the mixer, then pour in the bags of concrete. This technique works best in small areas. Batches are limited by the size of the mixer, and the consistency from batch to batch is difficult to control. Dry-shake colors consist of a powder that is applied to the surface after the concrete has been poured, screeded, and floated. Sprinkle on about two-thirds of what's required, work it into the concrete by floating, then sprinkle on the rest of the color and refloat. Work in small areas: If part of the concrete gets too dry before you can finish the three floatings required, the color will be splotchy and the top layer of concrete may peel off.
- POUR, SCREED, AND FLOAT THE SURFACE
- FLOAT THE SURFACE A SECOND TIME
- SHAKE ON THE REST OF THE PIGMENT
- SOAK THE GROUND
- POUR IN WATER AND DYE
POUR, SCREED, AND FLOAT THE SURFACE
Pour the concrete into its forms, screed it flat, and float it until moisture forms on the surface. Shake on about two-thirds of the pigment required for the area you’ll be coloring. Cover the surface evenly so the color will be uniform.
FLOAT THE SURFACE A SECOND TIME
Let the powder absorb the water on the surface of the concrete. When it has, float the surface thoroughly.
SHAKE ON THE REST OF THE PIGMENT
As soon as you are done floating, shake the rest of the pigment evenly over the surface. Float the surface again, mixing in the rest of the pigment. The resulting surface can be the final one, or you can broom the finish for more of a nonskid surface.
SOAK THE GROUND
The night before you pour the concrete, thoroughly soak the area. Dry ground will pull water out of the concrete at uneven rates and cause streaking in the pigmented
POUR IN WATER AND DYE
When mixing concrete with dye in a machine, the water goes in first to ensure that the dye is spread evenly through the mixture. Add the minimum amount of water recommended on the bag. (An 80-pound bag will need about 1 1/2 quarts of water.) Once the water is in, pour in the liquid dye and mix.
MIX IN THE CONCRETE
With the machine still running, pour in the bags of concrete. If the concrete becomes too stiff to mix, add water until the mix becomes workable. Directions on the bag will tell you the maximum amount of water that the mix should have, but work your way up to that amount bit by bit. Pour, screed, and finish the concrete as you normally would.
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Skill Level: Intermediate
Time: 3 hours
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