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- Integral Color vs. Color Hardener for Stamped Concrete
- Tips for Getting the Best Results
- Common Integral Color Issues: Troubleshooting Tips from Expert Chris Sullivan
- Tips for Achieving Consistent Color
- Integral Coloring Products
- Integral Pigment Color Matching: from BlueConcrete
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INTEGRAL COLOR CONCRETE PIGMENTSGet the inside scoop on using integral pigments to color fresh concrete, including buying tips and pointers for achieving the best results
One of the most popular methods for coloring newly placed concrete is integral coloring admixtures. These admixtures infuse concrete with rich, long-lasting, fade-resistant color. Stamped concrete contractors often use this coloring medium to produce a backdrop for contrasting accent or antiquing colors, such as pigmented release agents and stains or dyes. This layering of color is what enables them to so closely replicate the variegated, multi-tonal appearance of natural stone.
CONCRETE PIGMENTS IN INTEGRAL COLOR
A concrete pigment is an iron oxide pigment used in integral concrete coloring. They can come in either powder or liquid form. With integral coloring, there are a wide variety of concrete color options available. Many manufacturers offer over 20 standard concrete colors and custom color matching services. Also, concrete pigments have a low likelihood of fading.
Since the introduction of the repulpable bag, which dissolves when tossed into the concrete mix, using powdered integral coloring has never been easier. Ready Mix suppliers simply toss in the entire bag of color, cutting down on work and mess. Following are product links to integral coloring in repulpable bags:
- Davis Colors™ in Mix-Ready® Disintegrating Bags
- Butterfield Color DECORATIVE CONCRETE COLORS UNI-MIX® Integral Color
- Solomon Colors Dry Inegral Color
The use of liquid color pigments has also gotten easier since the introduction of concrete color systems. Concrete color systems are PC operated systems designed to help ready mix suppliers use liquid pigments.
ADVANTAGES OF INTEGRAL COLOR
With integrally colored concrete, the entire batch of concrete is colored all the way through, similar to adding food coloring to cake icing. Integral colors are available in powdered, granular and liquid forms. All types are generally a blend of synthetic or natural iron-oxide pigments that are formulated to disperse evenly when mixed into fresh concrete, either at the ready-mix plant or at the jobsite. The palette for integral pigments consists primarily of soft earth tones that integrate well with most landscapes and architectural elements. (See this color chart for Mix-Ready pigments from Davis Colors.)
The chief advantage of integral pigments is that the color extends throughout the entire concrete slab, so even if surface abrasion occurs, the color will not wear away. The pigments in integral coloring admixtures also are chemically stable and won't fade over time from exposure to the weather or ultraviolet light.
INTEGRAL COLOR LIMITATIONS
The main disadvantage of integral color is that the hues are subtle and less intense than what you can achieve with color hardeners. Cost can be another drawback. Because you're coloring the entire batch of concrete rather than just applying color to the surface, you may pay 10% to 30% more for integrally colored concrete than for plain concrete. But generally the cost for labor won't be any higher, since integrally colored concrete is mixed and finished just like conventional concrete.
WHERE TO USE INTEGRAL COLOR
Integral pigments can be added to just about any type of new concrete. Popular applications include exterior flatwork, floors, walls and countertops. Integral color is ideal for achieving uniform tones with no variations. It also works well as a contrasting base shade for creating layers of color. For example, stamped concrete contractors often start out with integrally colored concrete and then enhance it with color hardeners, stains and other surface-applied treatments. Indoors, integral color is a good alternative to shake-on color hardeners if mess and cleanup are concerns.
CHECKLIST FOR INTEGRALLY COLORED CONCRETE FLATWORK
- Verify that no calcium chloride or other incompatible admixture will be used in the mix.
- Pour a sample to make sure the color meets the designer and owner's specifications (different finishing textures can change the look of the concrete)
- Order concrete with substantial lead times as not all colors are kept in stock at all times
- Avoid delays in placement or excessive mixing at the job site
- Check that the type and brand of cement, the aggregate source, and the coloring agent will not change during the job
- Keep the water content and slump consistent from load to load
- Verify the color matching curing or clear cure is available for the selected color-conditioning admixture
- Ponding, fogging, and wet coverings such as burlap should not be used on colored concrete
- Protect colored concrete from damage from construction traffic
Follow all other standard quality flatwork procedures
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