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…

Concrete pigments can be used for a lot more than just slabs. Our customers buy Direct Colors pigments for everything from decorative planters to warehouse slabs and just about everything in between. With more on the many uses for DIY concrete pigment is Shawna Turner, General Manager, with Direct Colors. Welcome, Shawna.

Shawna:  Thank you very much

Lisa: So let’s have it. What’s the most popular use for concrete pigment?

ST:  Without a doubt, it’s concrete slabs of every kind. If you’re just looking for a solid, rich color in your concrete nothing better than concrete pigment. It’s a stress-free color option and really the only thing the home or business owner has to do is seal the concrete after 30 days curing time. Integrally colored concrete is very popular for outdoor concrete, especially stamped concrete, but it’s increasingly popular for interior floors as well because it’s cost effective, easy and low maintenance.

Lisa: Please explain the difference between concrete pigment and integral color. Is it the same thing?

ST: Yes, it is but I can see were the terms might be confusing. Concrete pigment is a powdered pigment added to concrete prior to pouring to integrally color or color the concrete throughout. Because the concrete is integrally colored, the color is still visible even if the surface is damaged or chipped. The color really is permanent though it can fade somewhat overtime if not properly sealed.

Lisa: What are some other popular options for concrete pigment?

ST: I think concrete countertops are probably our second most popular project. Customers choose concrete pigment for countertops for the same reason as floors – easy to use, consistent color and good selections of color options. Pigment can be used in either a poured concrete countertop or in our concrete overlay. Our most popular concrete countertop color is by far our 15.4 Premium Blue Pigment followed by the 230 Black pigment. People really love their blue and black countertops.

Lisa: Can you use pigment for grout, mortar or other finishing materials?

ST: Sure. We get a lot of calls for custom grout colors in particular but concrete pigment can be used with any cement-based material. Stucco is also very popular. We offer a wider color selection than can be found at most big-box stores and we sell direct to the public. It’s difficult for DIYer’s looking for smaller pigment quantities to find affordable products locally or online. We have three varieties of blue concrete pigment for sale on our website, www.directcolors.com, which is a challenging color to find generally.

Lisa: Is there anything special about Direct Colors pigments that sets them apart from other products on the market?

ST: Why of course! Seriously though, it is important to choose pigments according to their use. Our pigments are UV stable and chemically inert so they can be used outdoors as well as with many different cement-based materials. Pigments that are not UV resistant will fade and deteriorate with exposure to sunlight. Because our pigments are non-reactive, they can be safely added to integrally color most any cement-based material. Keep in mind that all outdoor projects should be sealed with a quality concrete sealer and most indoor projects. Sealing protects the surface from undesirable staining, makes clean up easier and darkens the concrete color overall.

We use the same pigments in our Liquid Colored Antique and Tinted Concrete Sealers so each product can be used outdoors and if well maintained over time, the color will not fade with exposure to sunlight.

Lisa: Thank you, Shawna, for the information about what projects concrete pigment can be used for. Here are few blogs post on the subject from our website, www.directcolors.comColor Stucco and Plaster with DCI Concrete Pigments, Top 10 Uses for Professional and DIY Concrete Pigment and Integral Color and Concrete Pigment for Tile Grout Color and More. A little something for everyone.

Lisa: Listen.directcolors.com includes podcasts on many decorative concrete topics so visit our podcast library, including Episode 19: Calculating Pigment for Coloring Grout, Stucco, Mortar and Plaster and check back frequently to see what’s new in the world of DIY decorative concrete! Thank you for listening.

Lisa: The LISTEN.DIRECTCOLORS.COM podcast is produced twice monthly for your enjoyment and show notes can be found at LISTEN.DIRECTCOLORS.COM. Come back often and feel free to add the podcast to your favorite RSS feed.  You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Instragram. All links are in the show notes. I’m Lisa Bickel and thank you 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.

Amie Nolen:  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.

AN: 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.

AN:  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.

AN:  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.

AN:  So what happens next for customers that have used an acid based etching or cleaning product on their concrete?

ST: I would recommend either Tinted Concrete Sealer or a Tinted Concrete Sealer and DCI Concrete Dye combination to create more color variation and movement on the floor similar to an acid stain finish. If you’re working with outdoor concrete, I suggest our Liquid Colored Antique and Sprayable Satin Finish Sealer. We have a wide color selection and it is extremely easy to apply. 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 at http://www.directcolors.com/samples-and-kits/.

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 the blog and featured projects pages of our website, www.directcolors.com.

Listen.directcolors.net includes podcasts on many decorative concrete topics so visit our podcast library and check back frequently to see what’s new in the world of DIY decorative concrete! Thank you for listening.

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.

Amie Nolen: Welcome to the podcast, Shawna.

Shawna Turner:  Thank you.

AN:  What are some of the challenges homeowners face when acid staining and sealing outdoor concrete in the summertime?

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.

AN:  What can be with our outdoor concrete besides wait until 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.

AN:  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. For more information on outdoor concrete projects, visit our blog at www.directcolors.com. If you’d like a free design consultation tailored to your project, send us pictures and a description by email or call us at 877-255-2656. We’re ready to help!

Direct Colors General Manager, Shawna Turner, sat down with us to discuss the best choice to renew pool decks and outdoor concrete color.

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Justin Richardson, Sales Manager at Direct Colors, stopped by to tell us what to expect at the Direct Colors booth this year at the OKC Home and Garden Show!

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