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"Concrete is the only material that allows you to customize just about every aspect of it, including color, shape, thickness, andtexture," says Jeff Girard of The Concrete Countertop Insitute in Raleigh, North Carolina.

One of the benefits of choosing concrete is the range of colors available. Each concrete contractor offers his or her own uniquestandard and premium colors. And many will create custom colors to help you match or complement other furniture.

Buddy Rhodes in San Francisco, CA Art and Maison Inc. in North Miami, FL

Wanda Ellerbeck of Grotto Designs in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, says that back when she was starting out, the only colors available in Calgary were red, yellow, and black.

"I used a whole bunch of pigments to make my own, but they're nowhere close to the colors available today," she says.

Today, Grotto Designs offers custom colors and stains, and integral pigments and applied stains can be used together for exotic and extraordinary effects.

Samples will always be different because each contractor has their own secret recipe and uses different types and amounts of cement and aggregates. In fact, cement will vary in different parts of the country. There are different brands of pigments, stains, and aggregate colors, so concrete furniture will always be one-of-a-kind.

At Meld USA in Raleigh, North Carolina, there are over 60 standard colors with more than 300 colors in the color library, which is continuously expanding.

Their in-house designed computer program develops batches, prints out the "recipe," catalogs colors, and provides the water-to-cement ratio.

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