How to Get Colored Concrete
LESLIE: Lynn in Wisconsin, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
LYNN: Hi. I’ve got some sidewalks at my home that are about five years old.
LYNN: And when I put them in, I stained them a cranberry color with an acid stain.
TOM: Oh. OK.
LYNN: And I did that because here we get a lot of ice and snow and when the sun hits that in the wintertime, on that darker surface, it melts it off.
TOM: Yeah, that’s what’s – it’s a great idea. I was thinking about that; it’s probably much warmer than surrounding surfaces that are much lighter.
LYNN: Yes, yes. In fact, I have some regular-colored concrete adjacent to it and apron on the garage. And while the sidewalk melts off right away as soon as the sun hits it, the gray-colored concrete by the apron hardly melts at all.
TOM: Well, good tip. Now, how can we help you?
LYNN: Well, the sealer I put on – or the stain I put on – is an acid stain that you put on and it turns it the right color. But it’s very dull-colored and so then you put on a product. One of them is Bright Seal; it’s a concrete sealer that has a lot of solids in it, so it makes it bright-looking and nice. But that only lasts about a year and it starts to kind of flake and peel and look poor, maybe from the ultraviolet light or something. So every year, it’s a maintenance chore to redo it.
And now I’ll be putting in some new sidewalk at a different location in a year or so and I’d like to know if there’s some sort of product that I can put on that’ll make a dark cranberry or some other dark, attractive color.
LESLIE: Now, isn’t there a pigment that you can actually put into the concrete so that when you mix it, you’re actually mixing cranberry-colored concrete? I know I’ve seen this.
TOM: Yeah. And you know who started that? Frank Lloyd Wright. He used to do colored concrete floors all the time; it was way ahead of his time. But somehow, he convinced the concrete companies to color it. But you certainly should be able to order the concrete already colored, just by having it added at the mix.
TOM: And then you don’t have to deal with this.
LYNN: I’ve seen some of that but it’s a really flat color and I’d like something a little bit more decorative.
LYNN: Not particularly glossy but maybe a semi-gloss or a satin, just to give it a little bit of a …
TOM: But I don’t think you’re going to find concrete sealers with that level of detail. We’re not talking about hardwood floors here when you talk about semi-gloss or a satin. I think that if you order the concrete already stained – already dyed – and then did a pretty good job on the finish, it – you know, you could finish it and make it look very smooth and almost glossy. But the problem is that if you do that, it’s going to be slippery.
So I think your best bet is to order it precolored from the concrete company, do a standard broom finish so that you have a little bit of abrasion there and then just enjoy it just like that. You won’t have to worry about – I think your problem is that you’ve got a sealer on there that fades out and deteriorates. But without any sealer on there and just the dark concrete, you’re not going to have the issue anymore.
LYNN: I think I might give that a try.