Tommy C: You’re listening to LISTEN.DIRECTCOLORS.COM podcast episode number 27, How-to Successfully Acid Stain Side by Side Concrete Slabs Poured at Different Times. If this is your first time listening, then thanks for listening.  I’m Tommy Carter, Sales Manager and Technician with Direct Colors. It may sound odd that concrete poured at different times would not acid stain the same but if you’ve added on to your patio, interior floors or driveway, this podcast is worth the time spent listening! Here to tell you more about why and how to get the best results from your next DIY project is Shawna Turner, General Manager with Direct Colors. Welcome to the podcast, Shawna.

Shawna T:  Thank you.

TC:  Let’s get started. So why does it matter if side by side concrete slabs are poured at different times if you’re planning to acid stain?

ST: Acid Stain is a chemically-reactive stain not just a topical colorant. The stain relies on the minerals available in the concrete surface to react properly and develop the variable, rich color acid stain is known for. Concrete is not mixed exactly the same way every time and the mineral content can vary substantially from one batch to another.  Concrete finishing, especially if a machine trowel is involved, can alter acid staining results dramatically from one floor section to another as well. Keep in mind that exposure to the elements can impact color development on older outdoor concrete slabs. In addition, concrete patches will also stain differently from the surrounding concrete and should be given special consideration before beginning a project. More to this subject than you thought, I suspect.

TC:  For sure!  What recommendations would you make for indoor floors poured separately or patched due to plumbing problems or for carpet tack holes for example?

ST: For indoor floors, making sure the profile is the same across the slab is important. Whether you choose to mechanically profile the floor using a sander or chemically profile with our Hard Troweled Floor Prep, do the same thing everywhere. I recommend reading over page one of our How to Acid Stain Concrete Guide to determine what process will yield the best results for your concrete before beginning. As for concrete patches, they can be tricky particularly if they are in a conspicuous area of the floor. Patches should be sanded flush with the floor before staining. For best results, I would stain and neutralize the rest of the floor first leaving the patch to be stained afterwards so it can be more easily color matched by carefully controlling the stain’s activation time.  Once the patch achieves the same color as the floor, neutralize the stain and move on to the cleaning step. Spray both the patch and the floor with water from a handheld spray bottle to determine when the matching color has been achieved prior to neutralizing.  Keep in mind that we offer topical stains, such as DCI Concrete Dye and Liquid Colored Antique Concrete Stain, to touch up or further accent any difficult areas so don’t worry, there’s more than one path to a beautiful floor.

TC:  That’s good news. What about outdoor concrete?

Many homes have patio and driveway slabs poured at different times. If you want the concrete to be as close to the same color as possible, I suggest applying the stain to the older slab first and leaving it to process for up to 10 hours for maximum color development. The longer concrete is exposed to the elements, the more surface mineral erosion occurs. For this reason, older concrete needs more processing time to achieve optimal color results than a newer slab. After the processing time is complete, neutralize the concrete and rinse so you can get a good look at the color. At this point, apply the stain to the newer slab and leave to process for 2-3 hours.  Using a spray bottle of water, dampen a small area of the old and new concrete and compare.  If it looks like a good match when wet, great. Neutralize and clean the entire slab in preparation for sealing. If not, let the new concrete process for another hour and repeat the test until a color match is achieved. Remember to look at the concrete only when it’s wet not dry. Dry, acid stained concrete does very little to reveal the final color as it will appear when sealed.

TC:  What happens if a color match can’t be achieved with the acid stain? What else can be done?

ST:  As I mentioned before, we have several topical stain options for indoor and outdoor use. I most frequently recommend our Liquid Colored Antique Concrete Stain for patios, driveways and other outdoor concrete. It can be used as a stand-alone concrete stain and often is or as an accent for acid stained concrete. If a satisfactory color match isn’t achievable, Liquid Colored Antique can be applied to blend the colors and create a more uniform final result. Customers often use this to color match on existing stained outdoor slabs where repairs have been made. It’s really an excellent, easy to use product that can renew color, fix problem areas and save customers a great deal of money by avoiding unnecessary tear-outs and refinishing.

TC:  That’s great to hear. Everyone likes to save time and money on home improvement and want to successfully acid stain concrete slabs. Thanks, Shawna, for the helpful tips on how to get the best results when acid staining interior floors and outdoor concrete. I’m sure this will useful information for many of our customers.

LISTEN.DIRECTCOLORS.COM DIY Home Improvement podcasts are produced twice monthly for your enjoyment and show notes can be found at LISTEN.DIRECTCOLORS.COM. Feel free to add the podcast to your favorite RSS feed.  You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Instagram. I’m Tommy Carter and thanks again for joining us!

Shawna T: You’re listening to LISTEN.DIRECTCOLORS.COM 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!

To watch Justin’s Staining and Sealing Older Concrete How-to Videos, visit our youtube channel or the how to videos and guides page of our website, www.directcolors.com.

LISTEN.DIRECTCOLORS.COM DIY Home Improvement podcasts are produced twice monthly for your enjoyment and show notes can be found at LISTEN.DIRECTCOLORS.COM. Feel free to add the podcast to your favorite RSS feed.  You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Instagram. I’m Shawna Turner and thanks again for joining us!

 

Shawna T: You’re listening to LISTEN.DIRECTCOLORS.COM podcast episode number 25, Take the DIY Decorative Concrete Challenge with Direct Colors! If this is your first time listening, then thanks for listening.  I’m Shawna Turner, General Manager with Direct Colors. This week we’d like to talk about getting started with those lingering concrete projects that you’d love to get done but just can’t seem to take the first step. Without question, spring is the time of year when things around the house need to be done before it gets too hot.  Don’t let the idea of doing-it-yourself overwhelm you. Our technicians are available by phone at 877-255-2656 or by email at info@directcolors.com to answer questions and help you get started. Until then, here are a few helpful tips for first-timers to DIY decorative concrete:

#1: Start small… You don’t have to remodel the kitchen as your first project. Begin with concrete decor for the garden like statuary or a birdbath to get your feet wet and get accustomed to the products. Experience as we all know is the best teacher. We offer several how-to videos on concrete décor projects that might be useful as a starting point. We also have extensive photo galleries that include a variety projects featuring all our color products. Hopefully our customers will inspire you with their DIY skill and help you select an appropriate project for your own home.

Coloring Grout

#2:  Try some samples… If you are considering a larger project, such as refinishing a countertop, check out our samples and kits page first. We have concrete overlay samples, acid stains and pigments that you can create a sample board with to work on application technique and color selection.  If you have a flooring or outdoor concrete project, we offer individual samples and kits to test for concrete reactivity in the case of acid stain or deco gel acid stain and to generally make sure the product is a good fit for your project. Working with samples before beginning with a larger project makes a big difference in your comfort level.

Direct Colors Samples and DIY Kits

#3:  Patios are our #1 project… If you want to try a flooring project, start outside. Patios are the easiest concrete project to complete and are most commonly what our customers cut their teeth on so to speak. We have some awesome step-by-step how to guides that will really boost your confidence about doing DIY projects yourself. Walkways, Driveways and Porches are also good options for first time projects. The products we recommend most frequently is acid stain and for previously colored and sealed concrete, Liquid Colored Antique. Both are great and with good application instructions, easy to do. Once you finish the outdoors, next indoor floors and countertops!

Outdoor Living Area

#4: Check out the How-to videos, podcasts and blog posts… Take the time to review the DIY experiences of others before proceeding. Good preparation is never wasted time. DirectColors.com and listen.directcolors.com offers a wealth of information on just about every decorative concrete project. Take advantage of what our customers and experts have put together to help make your DIY efforts go more smoothly.

Direct Colors Design Blog

#5: Free Individual Online and Phone Project Consultations…  If you still have lingering questions about the right product to use or anything else, contact the experts at Direct Colors. Believe it or not, they will take the time respond to your email or speak one-on-one with you by phone to work out the details about your project. There’s a free design consultation form online if you prefer or call at 877-255-2656 to speak with a technician M-F, 8:30am-5:00pm CST.

Free Online Design Consultation

Shawna T: So Take the DIY Decorative Concrete challenge this year and get started on the kinds of projects that will both make your home a better place to be and increase curb appeal!

LISTEN.DIRECTCOLORS.COM DIY Home Improvement podcasts are produced twice monthly for your enjoyment and show notes can be found at LISTEN.DIRECTCOLORS.COM. Feel free to add the podcast to your favorite RSS feed.  You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Google+Pinterest, Youtube and Instagram. All links are in the show notes. I’m Shawna Turner and thanks again for joining us!

Tommy C: You’re listening to LISTEN.DIRECTCOLORS.COM podcast episode number 24. If this is your first time listening, then thanks for coming. I’m Tommy Carter and today we’re talking about acid staining floors during the construction. As acid stained floors have become more popular, homeowners need to know when to acid stain and what to do to protect the finish throughout the construction process. Shawna Turner, General Manager, with Direct Colors is here to give us the scoop on new construction staining projects. Welcome, Shawna.

ST: Thank you very much

Tommy C: What’s the first thing to keep in mind when acid staining floors in a new construction home?

ST:  Probably the first thing is to make sure your General Contractor knows and understands that you plan to acid stain the floors. If he or she knows in advance, they can properly direct the ready-mix company pouring and finishing the concrete as well as other building contractors to act accordingly.

Tommy C: What role does the pouring and finishing of the concrete play in successfully acid staining?

ST: If you plan to acid stain concrete, the mix should contain no more than 10% fly ash and should only be lightly machine troweled if at all. The concrete should be rich in cement content and the pores open for the stain to readily absorb and react. As long as the GC knows in advance, these requests should not be difficult or costly to implement.

Tommy C: When should a homeowner plan to acid stain their concrete during construction?

ST: The concrete should be allowed to cure for 30 days for best staining results. If at all possible, the concrete should be stained after the dry wall has been hung but BEFORE it has been mudded in. The reason this is so important is that dry wall mud is a very challenging contaminant to remove from concrete after the fact. Homeowners wishing to acid stain their floors are then forced to spend a lot to time and money cleaning that could have been entirely avoided. Spray insulation is also a problem. Spray insulation should be installed AFTER the floors have been covered with overlapping cardboard. The chemicals interfere with the staining and sealing process and are notoriously difficult to remove.

Tommy C: Just to be clear, could you give us the step by step process from acid staining to waxing?

ST:  Sure. That’s a good idea. Once the dry wall has been hung, clean the floors thoroughly using a medium to heavy duty organic degreaser and water solution. All debris, particularly chalk lines, paint, oil stains, dirt and the like, has to be off the surface and out of the pores before you begin. Sanding may be necessary for stubborn debris and staining. When the floors are clean and dry, apply the stain, neutralize and clean according to the instructions. Leave the floor to dry. At this point, you really only want to apply one coat of sealer. I recommend our Sprayable Satin Finish Sealer, especially if you’re working in the winter months. It does have a strong odor during application but can be sprayed on floors freezing and above.

Tommy C: Why just one coat of sealer at this stage?

ST: Even when you cover the floors with overlapping cardboard, damage can still be done during construction. Once the work is complete and the floor cleaned, another coat of sealer can be applied to repair any existing damage and make the floor look brand new again. The sprayable satin finish or AC1315 High Gloss are both solvent-based and have the ability to re-emulsify the acrylic for a smooth final coat.

Tommy C: So what are the final steps after applying the sealer?

ST: After the sealer has been successfully applied, allow the concrete to dry for at least 10 hours before covering with overlapping cardboard. DO NOT TAPE THE CARDBOARD TO THE FLOOR. Tape will bond with the sealer and ruin the finish. Keep the floor covered until construction is complete and the baseboards are ready for placement. At this point, you’re ready to remove the cardboard, clean the floor and apply your final coat of concrete sealer. Allow for 24-48 hours ventilation and dry time before applying the concrete wax and floor polish according to the instructions.

Next step: Enjoy your Floors!

Tommy C: Thank you, Shawna, for that detailed information about acid staining floors during construction. I know it’s a common planning question with our DIY customers. Check out our blog for more on the Care and Maintenance for Acid Stained Floors and other decorative concrete flooring projects.

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

Tommy C: The LISTEN.DIRECTCOLORS.COM podcast is produced twice monthly for your enjoyment and show notes can be found at LISTEN.DIRECTCOLORS.COM. Feel free to add the podcast to your favorite RSS feed.  You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Instagram. All links are in the show notes. I’m Tommy Carter and thank you for joining us!

 

 

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.

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 product, 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.

AN:  There are several concrete calculators on the website. Which calculator should a customer use for these mixes as opposed to concrete?

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.

Coloring Grout, Stucco, Plaster and Mortar

DCI Concrete Pigment Color Chip Diagram

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.

AN:  What about sealing? Is it necessary in all instances?

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.

Thanks for making pigment calculations for grout, stucco, mortar and plaster mixes easier to understand.  For more information on using concrete pigments in concrete, visit our blog or how to guides and videos page at http://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!

More and more people are interested in pouring acid stain ready concrete.  Here with tips and recommendations to make that process easier and more successful is Shawna Turner, General Manager, with Direct Colors. Welcome, Shawna.

Shawna Turner:  Thank you.

Amie Nolen:  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.

AN: 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.

AN: 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.

AN: 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.

AN:  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.

AN: 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.

Thanks for this essential staining advice for new construction floors. For more information on acid staining, visit our blog or how to guides and videos page 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!

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!

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