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!

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!