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Concrete Facts

What’s the Difference Between Concrete Dyes, Pigments, and Stains?

When construction teams begin working on a project, they usually have a few things in mind: where to find the best concrete forms for sale, how much concrete they will need, what the weather will be like, and more.

Most don’t think about the color of concrete because, well, it’s grey, right? There are actually a number of different methods you can use to give concrete a much more interesting color.

Dyes, pigments, and stains are all ways of coloring concrete, but they’re not the same. Let’s look at the differences between these three options.

What Are Concrete Dyes?

Using a concrete dye is the easiest way of coloring concrete. Dyes are available in many different colors, and they dry fairly quickly. You simply take the powdered dye, add it to water or a solvent, and then paint the concrete.

Dyes are ideal if you decide that you want to add color to concrete that has already been poured since they adhere to it like paint. You can even use dyes to create decorative patterns or even murals on concrete.

With dye, you know what the final color will look like, so there are no surprises here. Dyes are also easier to use than other options and tend to be available in more colors.

What Are Concrete Stains?

Concrete stains, on the other hand, are used to change the overall shade, tint, or even the texture of concrete. Stains come in three different types: acid, penetrating, and film-forming.

Like dye, you can use concrete stains on existing concrete, and you can also use them to create designs, images, and patterns.

Acid stains actually etch the top surface layer of concrete through a chemical reaction. This gives the surface a textured or marbled appearance that can be very beautiful. You don’t have much control over the pattern or even the final color, though, and you do have to be careful that the acid isn’t allowed to etch too deeply into the concrete.

Penetrating stains doesn’t react with concrete, but it does 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 also chip and be damaged over time. However, you can also scrape it off and repaint if you decide to change the color.

What Are Concrete Pigments?

Concrete pigments are different from dyes and stains in that they must be mixed in with the concrete before it pours. While dyes and stains only change the color of the upper layer of concrete, pigments color all of the concrete used. Once pigment is added, it cannot be removed.

Unlike dyes or stains, pigment cannot easily be used to create different patterns or images. The only way to do that is to color several different batches of concrete.

One color is poured and allowed to dry before the next color is poured. This creates a more fragmented concrete surface, though, which isn’t always the best option. It also takes a lot more time than using dyes or stains, so it’s fairly impractical.

We’re Here to Help You with Your Concrete Projects

Before you reach the coloring phase, you need to be certain you have the right tools on hand for pouring concrete. Forming America is here to help during this stage of the project. We have a number of different concrete forms and shoring equipment for rent and sale. Contact us today to learn more.

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