Concrete is one of the easiest things in the entire field of masonry to add a little color to. Tinting concrete can be done in a variety of ways and you have the option of coloring concrete as you lay it or tinting it after the fact. There are three basic ways of coloring concrete.
Pigment Mixing Concrete
White portland cement produces bright colors while darker pigments are better served with grey cement. Proportion the pigment by weight so that the pigmenting material never exceeds more than 10% of the weight of the cement. In order to ensure uniformity of pigmentation, make sure to use the same proportion of coloring material in each batch as you mix the concrete. Mixing the pigment into the concrete allows you to pour an entire slab or foundation first and then leave the surface rough so that you can top it off with an inch-thick slab of the colored concrete mix.
Dust-on Concrete Coloring
Dust-on concrete coloring is accomplished by preparing the concrete surface first and then spreading about two-thirds of the amount recommended by the manufacturer. The rest of the mixture is floated and lightly troweled. An essential component to dust-on coloring concrete is to edge and regroove the joints following each application of the pigment. You can mix your own concrete pigment with either grey or white cement in its dry condition and then spread the mixture over damp concrete.
Brush-on Concrete Coloring
Brush-on is the concrete coloring process that involves application of color to the surface after it has already hardened. Brush-on coloring can be applied in the form of wax, stain or paint. The cool thing about brush-on coloring is that you can tint concrete that is several years old as long as you give it a thorough cleaning first. Paints offer the most versatility of concrete coloring. Water-based latex paint allows you to create a concrete surface that is pretty much any color you want. Staining the concrete not only provides a good hue, it also offers the most durability. As a bonus, staining is also more affordable than paint. Waxing the concrete a different color involves rubbing the tinted wax directly onto the surface of the cement and allowing it to harden. Once the wax has hardened, it is rubbed down with a buffer. For best results use a buffer made of lamb’s wool. In addition to being the most work-heavy method of coloring concrete, waxing also means you’ll have to redo the job once or twice a year.