You’re listening to Direct Colors podcast Episode 16: Tips for Successfully Sealing Outdoor Countertops. If this is your first time listening, then thanks for listening. After investing a great deal of time and effort into your countertop project, you want the last step to go smoothly. You may not realize that there are differences between successfully sealing indoor countertops and sealing outdoor countertops but there are and here to tell us all about it is Shawna Turner, General Manager for Direct Colors. Continue reading →
You’re listening to Direct Colors Podcast Episode 14 – Care and Maintenance for Concrete Countertop Sealers. If this is your first time listening, then thanks for joining us. Our customers often ask us how they can best take care of their concrete countertop sealers and keep them looking great. We’ve given some thought to this question and here to tell us more is Direct Colors General Manager, Shawna Turner. Continue reading →
Applying acid stain and concrete sealer in the summer months can be challenging especially if you live in a hot temperature climate. Here are a few tips from our own General Manager, Shawna Turner, for outdoor concrete and countertop projects that will help DIYer’s get it right the first time.
ST: Concrete temperature and wind conditions often determine success or failure for an acid stain project. Hot, dry conditions can cause acid stain to prematurely dry before properly reacting with the concrete. But how hot is too hot? Concrete shouldn’t be more than 75-80F for best staining results. Dry, windy conditions can wick the moisture from the concrete leaving a “blotchy” appearance behind particularly when using both light and dark colors.
What can be with our outdoor concrete besides wait until the fall?
ST: Well, it’s not quite as bad as all that. The most important step for homeowners applying acid stain either late in the evening or early in the morning when concrete temperatures are at their lowest. As the day heats up, so does the concrete and air begins to pass through the surface. When temperatures are cooling, the concrete contracts and is therefore a better candidate for staining or sealing. Keep in mind that direct sunlight and ambient temperature are not the same. Lay a thermometer on the concrete surface and cover with a towel. If after 4-5 minutes the temperature is greater than 80°F, do not stain.
Another valuable tip is to lightly dampen not flood the concrete before applying acid stain to add moisture and prevent premature drying. Premature drying can retard color development and isn’t helpful if you’re working with multiple colors outdoors.
What about sealing specifically? I know hot temperatures can really cause problems. What should customers be looking out for?
ST: Without question, DO NOT attempt to seal in the heat of the day. Colored concrete in direct sunlight, especially dark browns and black, could be several times hotter than the ambient temperature and just a few minutes of sunlight will raise the surface temperature very quickly. If the concrete is too hot, small air bubbles will often appear either during the application or just after. The air bubbles are formed by air rising through the concrete and becoming trapped in the sealer. The bubbles will eventually collapse leaving unattractive concave spots behind. Not very attractive, especially on outdoor kitchen countertops.
Finding the right time of day to apply concrete sealer during the summer months can be a challenge. Sealers, like acid stain, should be applied when the concrete is at its lowest temperature either early in the morning or late in the evening. East facing concrete should be sealed later in the day and west facing early in the morning.
AN: What time of year do you normally do “maintenance” on your decorative concrete?
ST: Never if I can get away with it! No, I’m kidding. I usually do my resealing in the late spring when you can get a couple of rain free days and if that fails, before winter sets in. Because I live in Oklahoma where the summers are very hot, I seldom attempt to seal my exterior concrete during the summer months. It can be done but most of the time I don’t want to get up that early.
AN: Thanks for the summertime acid staining and sealing advice. I hope everyone will listen in before beginning their projects this summer season. If you have questions, call one of our expert technicians at 877-255-2656 and we’ll help you select the best products and technique for your needs. If you prefer email, send in a free online design consultation and we’ll get back to you within 24-48 hours.
You’re listening to Direct Colors podcast Episode 11: How to Remove Oil Stains from Concrete. If this is your first time listening, then thanks for joining us. One of the biggest challenges to acid staining garage floors, driveways and patios is oil stains in the concrete. Motor or vegetable oil and animal fats if the spill is around the barbeque can be very challenging to remove and unless properly removed will prevent acid stain, concrete stains or sealer from penetrating the concrete. Shawna Turner, General Manager, at Direct Colors joins us to talk about how to successfully dissolve oils in the concrete surface before staining and sealing. Let’s get started.
Not all concrete is created equal. Increasingly, ready mix companies are including additives like fly ash in the concrete that can interfere with the acid staining process. With more and more people interested in pouring acid stain ready concrete, we’ve got a few tips and recommendations to make that process easier and more successful. I’m joined by Shawna Turner, General Manager, with Direct Colors to find out best practices for pouring acid stain ready concrete. Welcome, Shawna.
Shawna Turner: Thank you.
What’s the first thing a customer needs to do to get started?
ST: The first thing to do is have a conversation with your general contractor (GC). Make sure he or she understands your plan to acid stain and what that means for the overall construction process. Preparing to acid stain begins before the concrete is poured so it should be discussed with the general contractor in the planning stage.
You mentioned preparing to acid stain before pouring the concrete. What does that mean?
ST: Well, not all concrete is created equal. Depending on where you live, concrete can contain additives and/or fly ash that negatively impact the acid staining process so it’s imperative that you know what’s going in your concrete BEFORE it’s poured. How do you do that? Either the homeowner or their contractor needs to call the ready mix company pouring the concrete to ask for the mix design details. The concrete should not include retarders, accelerators or more than 10% fly ash if it is to be successfully acid stained later. None of these additives are essential but are often used when temperatures are very hot or cold and to cut costs in the case of the fly ash. I’d also avoid using a topical curing compound unless it is self-dissipating and will evaporate within two weeks of application.
That’s very helpful information. What about finishing the concrete? I know that’s also an important part of the process.
ST: You’re right. Finishing the concrete properly will yield better final staining results. The best option for indoor floors or patios is either a hand-troweled or light machine trowelled finish. Stamping or texturing concrete is fine too if you’re working outside. The objective is to avoid making the concrete so smooth that acid stain can’t readily absorb into the pores. If the stain can’t absorb, the chemical reaction will not occur and the stain will simply wash off during the cleaning process. No one wants that to happen. Overly smooth concrete can be corrected using our Hard Trowel Floor Prep product after the fact if needed.
When should a customer plan to acid stain the concrete?
ST: We usually don’t recommend acid staining until the concrete is fully cured or achieves a uniform light gray color. That could occur anytime after 20-28 days depending on weather conditions. The concrete will need to be protected throughout the construction process. Overlapping cardboard works best to cushion blows and absorb spills should they occur. Spills and other contaminants on unprotected concrete only make the home or business owners job that much harder when it’s time to stain. Again, remind your GC to talk to every contractor about not marking the floor or making a mess. Covering the floor can make a big difference but nothing’s better or more effective than a conscientious contractor.
In the case of interior floors, at what point in the construction process would you acid stain?
ST: The best time to uncover, clean, acid stain and seal the floors is after the dry wall has been hung but has not yet been mudded in. Dry wall mud is notoriously difficult to get off of concrete. Staining and sealing before that step is the better option for sure. Once the floors have been stained, neutralized and cleaned, apply one coat of sealer. I prefer the Sprayable Satin Finish Concrete Sealer because it’s so easy to apply and dries quickly. Six hours after application cover again with overlapping cardboard and continue with construction.
At what point should the finishing coats of sealer and wax be applied?
ST: Just before the baseboards are installed, remove the cardboard, clean thoroughly and apply another coat of sealer. The second coat of sealer will repair most minor scratches on the surface and add additional luster. 24-48 hours later apply three coats of concrete wax and allow to dry for 24 hours before moving in furniture. A polyurethane sealer could also be applied after the second coat of sealer if desired. Wax would no longer be necessary in that case. I highly recommend our how to guide on care and maintenance of acid stained floors. Please give that a read before moving in to avoid unnecessary damage to the floors.
AN: Thanks for this essential staining advice for new construction floors. If you have questions, call one of our expert technicians at 877-255-2656 and we’ll help you select the best products and technique for your needs. If you prefer email, send in a free online design consultation and we’ll get back to you within 24-48 hours.
You’re listening to Direct Colors podcast Episode 21: Prepping Concrete for Acid Staining. If this is your first time listening, then thanks for joining us. Prepping concrete for acid staining before getting started is critical to success but how this is done can make or break a project. Here to discuss how to and how not to prepare concrete for acid staining is Shawna Turner, General Manager for Direct Colors.
It seems like surface preparation is the most important step of the process. Can this be a big problem for customers if they don’t do it right?
Shawna Turner: Absolutely. Not all concrete can be acid stained but most can if the concrete is properly profiled using the correct product or method before staining. Determining which method or product is best can be the biggest challenge.
Could you explain what it means to profile the concrete?
ST: Sure. Profiling the concrete simply means to change the surface texture to allow for better acid stain penetration. Profiling can be accomplished by either a chemical or mechanical means. Chemical profiling using an acid stain approved etcher such as our DCI Hard Trowel Floor Prep will open the pores without interfering with the later acid staining process. Mechanical profiling would involve a concrete sander or grinder which might be used on extremely smooth or heavily contaminated floors. For example, floors with glue, paint and drywall mud over most of the concrete should probably be mechanically profiled using a grinder because the cost of a chemical strip would be greater than the cost of renting the machine.
What products should not be used to profile concrete?
ST: That’s a pretty easy question to answer. If the etcher is intended for use with anything other than acid stain, don’t use it. That would include water based stains, sealers, epoxy coats, paint and anything else not specifically called acid stain. Acid based cleaners and etchers used in conjunction with other coatings actually dissolve the minerals in the surface of the concrete necessary to support the reaction between an acid stain and the concrete. Without those minerals, the acid stain will sit on the surface and be washed away later in the cleaning process. So if you have previously cleaned your concrete using a muriatic acid and water solution, the slab will either not stain at all or stain very unpredictably depending on how the solution was originally applied and how strong it was. I really can’t emphasize enough that you’ve bought a concrete etching product from a local big box store, don’t use it if you want to acid stain later. Really that’s the bottom line.
Ok. That is straight to the point. How would a customer know aside from obvious surface contaminants that their concrete needs profiling in the first place?
ST: Most indoor concrete and some outdoor poured in the last 10-15 years was likely finished using a machine trowel. We discuss this in some detail on the first page of our How to Guide for Applying Acid Stain. A simple water test will often reveal whether water will readily absorb into the concrete or bead on top. If beading does occur, the surface needs to etched using our DCI Hard Trowel Floor Prep before acid staining. Basement and garage floors are generally the smoothest floors in the house and will more likely than not require etching prior to staining.
Prepping Concrete for Acid Staining
So what happens next for customers that have used an acid based etching or cleaning product on their concrete?
I’ve used this product at home on my walkways and patio and have been very happy with it. If you are in some doubt as to whether your concrete will stain or not, try an acid stain sample bottle and make sure. It’s always a good idea to test the quality of your concrete regardless and it never hurts to try. You’ll find acid stain samples and samples of all our products on our website.
AN: Thank you, Shawna, for setting us straight on prepping concrete for acid staining. No doubt this will help a number of homeowners avoid a costly DIY mistake. For more information on acid staining floors and outdoor concrete, visit Direct Colors Design Blog or Featured Projects pages.
If you have questions, call one of our expert technicians at 877-255-2656 and we’ll help you select the best products and technique for your needs. If you prefer email, send in a free online design consultation and we’ll get back to you within 24-48 hours.
You’re listening to Direct Colors podcast Episode 19: Calculating Pigment for Coloring Grout, Stucco, Mortar and Plaster. If this is your first time listening, then thanks for joining us. Many of our customers are interested in coloring grout, stucco, plaster and mortar but have a difficult time finding the right colors, especially blues, and small enough quantities. Direct Colors General Manager, Shawna Turner, is here to talk more about calculating for and mixing custom colors in these materials. Welcome Shawna.
Amie Nolen: Calculating pigment for so many different cement-based mixes sounds complicated. Is it?
Shawna Turner: It definitely can be. The difficult part is the fact that very few manufacturers report the product contents on the side of the bag. Usually the technical data sheet will include the amount of cement in the mix but that’ s not always available so we often are forced to make an educated guess that many vary somewhat from product to product.
AN: Why is the amount of cement in the mix so important for getting the color right?
ST:Concrete pigment creates color by coating the cement particles with color so other ingredients are a less important part of the color equation. The pigment needed to achieve a specific color from our color charts is based on the amount of cement only rather than the total weight of the mix. Each mix is comprised of a 3:1 ratio of sand to cement and/or lime. If lime is also added to the mix, the cement and lime should be added together for the purposes of calculating pigment load. Whether you are mixing your own material or using a pre-bagged concrete ready mix, having this basic information can help you to determine how much pigment you need for a project. Because grout, stucco, plaster and mortar are cement, sand and possibly lime mixes containing no aggregate, colors can appear somewhat different in fact than they are on color charts. Testing is incredibly important when working with these materials and will help avoid mistakes.
ST: The calculator most useful for coloring grout, stucco, mortar and plaster is called the Custom Batch Calculator. The Custom Batch Calculator requires two pieces of information – the weight of cement and/or lime in your mix and the pound rating for the color chosen from our concrete pigment color chart. We recommend calculating both for batch size as well as the overall project. For example, if you planned to use one 80lb. bag of stucco mix and wanted to integrally color the stucco to Cornflower. You’d enter 20 lbs. for the cement/lime content and a “1” for the pound rating to calculate the amount of pigment needed for the project which is just under a quarter of a pound (.21 lbs.) per bag.
If you’re calculating for a sample, the pound output from the calculator is likely to be unhelpful so we’ve provided a link to other calculation options at the bottom of the page. For example, say you have about 5 lbs. of cement/lime in your mix and the amount of pigment needed for the chosen color, Royal Blue, is 0.1595 lbs. 0.1595 lbs. is a difficult number to work with so converting lbs. to teaspoons for such a small batch is very useful. Using a conversion website easily found with a search engine, we’ll need 15 teaspoons to achieve Royal Blue in 5 lbs. of white Portland mix. Calculating from lbs. to grams is also a good option. Gram scales provide more exact measurements, especially when measuring small amounts, and can be used for any small or medium sized project.
We also have a step-by-step video describing how to use the concrete pigment calculators that our customers have found very helpful in determining how much pigment to order for an upcoming project.
AN: What about sealing? Is it necessary in all instances?
ST: Outdoor stucco applications should be sealed with an acrylic or penetrating densifier sealer to protect the color integrity from the elements. Some customers prefer a light shine and the easy application our Sprayable Satin Finish Sealer offers, especially for stucco projects. Our DCI Penetrating Lithium Sealer Hardener has a matte finish is perfect for grout projects where gloss isn’t all that desirable. This sealer enhances overall concrete durability and is a one-time application which is super. Sealing for interior projects isn’t necessary but acrylic sealers will deepen color appearance and add some gloss.
AN: Thanks for making pigment calculations for grout, stucco, mortar and plaster mixes easier to understand. If you have questions, call one of our expert technicians at 877-255-2656 and we’ll help you select the best products and technique for your needs. If you prefer email, send in a free online design consultation and we’ll get back to you within 24-48 hours.
Step-by-step how-to instructions on pouring and stamping colored concrete for new construction. See how it’s done before you start your own integrally colored concrete project. Footage courtesy of Link Cowen Homes in Shawnee, OK. For…
You’re listening to DIRECTCOLORS.COM/LISTEN podcast episode number 26, Successfully Staining Older Concrete. If this is your first time listening, then thanks for listening. I’m Shawna Turner, General Manager with Direct Colors. This week our Senior Sales Manager and Technician, Justin Richardson, joins us to talk about how to get the best staining results out of an older concrete slab. You may have seen Justin featured in two videos covering this topic on our website, Facebook and YouTube. He’s got some great ideas to share with you today so let’s get started. Welcome to you, Justin.
Justin: Hi Shawna. Thank you.
Shawna T: What challenges should customers expect when staining older concrete?
Justin: Those challenges will vary depending on whether the project is an indoor floor or outdoor concrete. Interior slabs become harder and denser over time requiring either mechanical or chemical profiling to open the pores and allow the acid stain to readily penetrate the concrete. DCI Hard Trowel Floor Prep is a safe, easy to use product for chemically profiling concrete floors. This will give your best acid staining results on older concrete especially concrete where water does not soak easily into the concrete. Older outdoor concrete will erode over time with exposure to the elements losing some of its surface “cream” which is essential to successful acid staining. If you do have exposed aggregate or sand, that does not mean you can’t acid stain but you may want to apply topical concrete stain like our Liquid Colored Antique to enhance the color after the surface has be neutralized, cleaned and dry and before sealing. Take an honest assessment of your concrete before staining to make sure you have the products you need to do the best job possible.
Shawna T: Which products do you most commonly recommend for older concrete projects?
Justin: There’s no reason you couldn’t use acid stain on older concrete. It’s one of my personal favorites because it permanently changes the color of the concrete and our customers use it all the time. Sample testing on the slab with proper surface preparation is very important for older concrete projects to make sure you’re going to get the color results you’re looking for. It’s more difficult to achieve a marbled acid stain look on heavily textured, weathered, or rough exterior concrete. Consider using two colors to create more color contrast and movement on the slab. If sand or aggregate is a problem, another option for really beautiful results is the Liquid Colored Antique after you’ve applied the acid stain. After completing all the acid staining steps, apply the antique to dry concrete in a contrasting color to darken the color or accentuate features like cracks enhance appearance. It’s very easy to use. Shake very well, pour into a Fence and Deck Sprayer and apply. Please see our video of a similar application on our website.
Shawna T: What application techniques would you suggest to enhance the finished look and overcome imperfections?
Justin: I have a couple of suggestions. On interior slabs, no matter what you’ve get color variations on the concrete even if you apply a saturating even coat of acid stain. Existing imperfections in the concrete will not be hidden by acid stain but sometimes those imperfections will work to your advantage instead of against it. Our acid stains, particularly the Coffee Brown, can be diluted with water for the first coat and applied full strength for greater color and texture variation. Older, weathered concrete could definitely benefit from using Liquid Colored Antique to improve the color outcome.
Shawna T: What advice would you offer customers about sealing older concrete and which sealer would you use?
Justin: When it comes to sealing concrete, you have options. Direct Colors offers both solvent and water based acrylic sealers. Solvents are easier to apply and always make the color “pop” more but because of odor, you have to be very careful about using them indoors. Solvents can also be applied anywhere above freezing and under 85F. Sprayable Satin Finish Sealer is our most popular outdoor sealer and Krystal Kote High Gloss Water Based for interior. Water based Sealers are preferred for indoor use for their low odor but they can’t be applied below 60F at any time. Acrylic sealers are by far the easiest sealers to apply indoors or out and comprise about 90% of the DIY homeowner market for that reason. Please check out our range of sealers on our website and consider your gloss expections as well as the location of the project carefully before selecting a sealer.
Shawna T: Any final thoughts for our DIY audience?
Justin: Don’t let a project intimidate you. Start small with a patio or an office. Don’t rush or short cut the process. Follow the instructions and sample test on the slab you intend to stain. Take you time. It’s kind of a fun process. Take advantage of the customer services available at Direct Colors. If you prefer not to call about your project, send us a free online design consultation and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours. If you would like to call at 877-255-2656, we have technicians on duty M-F, 8:30-5pm. We’d be happy to visit with you about your project and recommend the best products for your use. We want you to be successful so get in touch!
Shawna T: Thank you for joining us today, Justin, and for the helpful advice on staining older concrete. Many of our customers have projects like this and are afraid the results won’t justify the work or expense. I hope we’ve changed some minds with this podcast and our listeners will give patio or porch project a try!
If you have questions, call one of our expert technicians at 877-255-2656 and we’ll help you select the best products and technique for your needs. If you prefer email, send in a free online design consultation and we’ll get back to you within 24-48 hours. Direct Colors DIY Home Improvement podcasts are produced twice monthly for your enjoyment and show notes can be found at directcolors.com/listen. Feel free to add the podcast to your favorite RSS feed. You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ , YouTube and Instagram. Thank you for joining us!
You’re listening to Direct Colors Podcast Episode 1: Coloring/Sealing Concrete Fountains and Birdbaths. We answer frequently asked questions about how to color and seal concrete fountains and birdbaths. Making the right color and sealer choice is essential for both success and longevity. Find out more from the Decorative Concrete Experts!