Concrete Coloring Techniques
What is the difference between base color and secondary color in stamped or imprinted concrete?
The base color refers to the primary color of the concrete. Most stamped concrete is colored with pigments that are either added to the mix (integral color) or surface applied (shake-on color hardener). While both are good methods of coloring concrete, color hardener provides greater color selection and enhances the strength and durability of the concrete surface.
Secondary colors are used over the base color as contrasting accents or highlights. The contrast is what makes stamped concrete come alive, and provides the perception of stone, tile, wood, or rock. There are many different products and methods for imparting secondary color, depending on the final look desired and the applicator's preference. These include, but are not limited to, pigmented release powder, tinted liquid release, stains, tints, dyes, and tinted sealers. The most common, and arguably most practical method for adding secondary color to stamped concrete, is to use a pigmented release powder during the stamping process.
There is no limit to the number of base or secondary colors that can be used. In fact, blending multiple colors, in both the base and secondary applications, can add to the overall realism of the results. An important factor to keep in mind: The secondary color should make up no more than 40% of the final color you see. Anything more then that can impair the adhesion of the sealer to the concrete surface.
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Author Chris Sullivan, ConcreteNetwork.com technical expert and vice president of sales and marketing for ChemSystems Inc.