When it comes to coloring concrete, we basically have several options; using pigments, dye or stain the concrete. These methods are the main ways of coloring the concrete, whether it is a concrete floor, walls, blocks, home decor or concrete jewelry. Let's take a look at each of them and learn about their differences:
Pigment vs. Dye vs. Stain
Pigment is a colored material that is completely or nearly insoluble in water. They are often inorganic compounds. Pigments of prehistoric and historic value include ochre, charcoal, and lapis lazuli. Pigments must be add to the concrete before it is poured and cured. You don't really have much of control over the end result and and you cannot reverse or change it.
*Image: Example of using pigments in concrete earrings.
Dye is in fact the easiest and fastest ways to color the concrete. In contrast to pigment, dyes are typically soluble, at least at some stage in their use. Simply add the dye powder to the solvent or water and paint the concrete. Dyes come in a variety of colors and are ideal when you want to add some colors to the finished product, meaning the cured concrete. Dye can be used for decorating concrete or to add some pattern on it. Dying is much easier to apply and work with and you know what the actual color looks like.
Stain is quite different. It is more of changing the texture or shades of the concrete. It is applied to the finished products, the cured concrete. Stains come in several types such as acid, film coating and penetration. Stain can also be used for adding some designs and patterns to the final products.
Acid or etching changes the texture of concrete, giving it a different and very interesting look such as that of natural stone, similar to marble. However, unlike dye, you do not have a lot of control over the color or look. You must be careful not to let the acid go too deep into the concrete, as it might weaken the concrete. You may wash the acid off with water or even add some alkaline solution to neutralize the acid.
*Image: Example of using acid in concrete earrings to change the texture.
Penetrating stains don't react with concrete, but they do sink into the pores, permanently changing the color of the surface of the concrete. Penetrating stains don’t change the texture and the final surface is one solid color. You can purchase penetrating stains in a number of different colors.
Film-forming stains are similar to paint in that they create an outer layer over the concrete rather than actually change the color of the concrete itself. This is the easiest type of stain to use, but like paint, it can chip and be damaged over time. However, you can also scrape it off and repaint if you decide to change the color later.
*Image: Example of using Acid Etching Stain Technique to change the color.
Concrete is incredible and an amazing material to work with, slight changes using pigments, dye or stain can create beautiful and one of a kind works. Beside the coloring techniques, you can also get very interesting and unique look and texture by using different types of aggregates.
Here at Concreted.de, we tend to use natural pigments for coloring along with slight acid etching techniques to gain some unique textures. take a look at our products and see if you can determine which techniques or aggregates we used.