Colored Concrete Advice or Ideas?

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Old 03-21-14, 05:50 PM
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Colored Concrete Advice or Ideas?

Hi All,

I'm hoping someone can perhaps provide me with a creative solution to a problem I have here.

Later this spring I'm doing a large area around my house with this stuff.

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I get good deals on cement to actually not too expensive but I really want this to be some color other than concrete grey. Problem is that I'm finding that the liquid and powdered concrete tints available are crazy expensive.

I figure this is another one of those super controlled markets like spray foam so the prices are kept artificially high.

Does anyone know of a clever hack, substitute or some inexpensive way of tinting wet concrete?

I know I can stain after the fact but I'm hoping to have something in the mix so it's not visible in the event of cracking, wearing or chipping...

All clever ideas welcome
 
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Old 03-22-14, 04:21 AM
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Long ago I did a small patio using the same form and liquid black tint. Trying to save cost on the tint and not end up with completely black which would be too hot in the sun I had the brilliant idea to add only half a bottle to each batch. I'm certain I did not split the bottle exactly 50/50 but I think the bags of concrete in addition to the tint were from different batches. In the end I ended up with sections of varying colors. Did not look very good.

If I were to try again I would get very precise. I would mix a full bag of concrete or weigh out a certain amount. Measure out the correct amount of water and use a digital scale and pour the tint into cups and make sure each batch got the same exact amount.
 
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Old 03-22-14, 04:32 AM
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GREAT POINT, dane ! if a conc plant can't deliver 2 successive loads of conc when batch'd 1 directly behind the other, why would the op expect differently ? he/she didn't mention if it were transit-trk OR bagg'd - just a ' good deal ',,, is $ his/her main concern ?
 
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Old 03-22-14, 05:07 AM
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Concrete color is not that expensive. If you are mixing the batches, you will need to be consistent with both concrete and color concentrations. Two bags at a time with a cap full of color goes a long way. I could not imagine having concrete delivered to do stepping stones.
 
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Old 03-22-14, 08:05 AM
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Wow. Lots of feedback. Will try to address each:


**Concrete color is not that expensive. - Maybe I have this one all wrong. I was under the impression that I'd need one of these $12 (+ tax = $14) tubs of pigment for each bags of concrete - At least that's what the details say? I'm doing perhaps 1200 sq ft when I'm done so estimate 4 sq ft per bag = 300 bags. So 150 bottles of color cost me $2100. For me this is a lot of money. Unless we're talking about two different things.

**I'm using bagged as I'm (unfortunately) doing this alone. No way I can handle the quantities a transit mixer would deliver before it all set on me. I'll be doing small areas over a period of weeks. Alone I know I can lay about 50 bags per day assuming my area is prepped.

(QUIKRETE 10 Oz. Buff Cement Color)

**Minor variants in the color from batch to batch aren't a real problem for me. I've done some test batches and I'm finding that the minor changes in batches actually make it look more natural.

**It is Joe - The cracking issue is important only if I were to use a stain after the concrete sets. While the concrete is porous and it absorbs deep, in the event of a crack or chip the underlying grey does show. Why is it important if I get a good deal on the concrete? It heavy hard work that I don't want to repeat

So in the end....I'm looking for an inexpensive way to tint bagged mix...$7 to tint each bag is not an option...
 
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Old 03-22-14, 11:25 AM
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Two bags at a time with a cap full of color goes a long way.
The colorant I have seen in the stores it appears you add one colorant bottle to each bag, not just a cap full. Am I also reading the colorant bottle wrong too?
 
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Old 03-22-14, 11:41 AM
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No, but I usually am adding hue to the concrete, not changing gray to blue or green. Mainly we use smaller identical amounts per two bags just to take the starkness off the gray concrete. Once that is determined, we make note and duplicate it. I have never used a whole bottle per bag, but it depends on the final outcome need.
 
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Old 03-22-14, 01:05 PM
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If you are dealing with liquid materials to affect the color, you must realize that they are mainly water and that amount can be highly variable from brand to brand and product to product. Liquid "pigments" are really just a real pigment(normally powdered) mixed with water and a suspension material and may even be aniline (sp?) dyes that are not as permanent in concrete.

Good pigments are very strong and usually in powdered form originally. There are many other "pigments" that are used, even in dry form, such as carbon blacks that do not stain anything, but are just fine particles that are not well bonded and will eventually disappear with aging, water and use.

A real manufacturer that produces colored concrete normally uses powdered mineral pigments and measure and batch precisely or create their own liquids that are constantly stirred/agitated before dosing before being added to batch in the proper sequence and time in the batching/mixing cycle. - We would have the dry bagged pigments delivered by the semi load, but some products would require less than 1# of some pigments in a 6000# batch of concrete. The timing of the pigment dosing during a mixing cycle was so critical that we added some colors by the premeasured "baggie" when a light and alarm went off. Most pigments were dry synthetic iron oxides(99% pure) for reds, yellows, tans/browns and no carbon black. Also, no natural oxides because of wide range of tinting strengths. Our greens were chrome oxide liquid ($$$$) and yellow synthetic iron oxides.

When you make products, have color samples out and have an inventory to match, you must be a little critical to create durable colored concrete materials that are uniform and repeatable.

A once in a while job allows more latitude and just have to look good for a year or so because there is nothing to compare it to.

Doing small batches for site cast pavers is asking for variations because of the lack of control. I saw it work well, but the contractor had many forms so he could make a small batch of one color and fill a portion of the stone locations with another slightly different colored batch a few minutes later. The random and irregular shapes blended the different colors into an acceptable walkway.

Dick
 
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Old 03-22-14, 01:11 PM
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Fair enough - I guess I can try experimenting with smaller quantities however even if I get away with half the recommended, I'm still looking at over $1000 just for the color.

What I'm really looking for here is a recommendation on where to source a powdered colorant in bulk wholesale or perhaps an alternative product that marketed for another purpose that will work for this application.

Buying this sort of thing at retail in small quantities doesn't make sense and I cant imaging a professional who does large areas is going to Home Depot and buying hundreds of 10oz bottles, right? Someone has to be selling big bags of this stuff...Or something that will work. Like a good bulk supplier of iron oxide powders etc...
 
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Old 03-22-14, 04:34 PM
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Butterfield Color of Aurora, Illinois makes bags of color designed to be added to a cubic yard of concrete. The buff colors and some of the other lighter colors retail for about $30 or so per bag. You can buy a bag, then use a measuring cup to dose your small loads. If a bag of packaged concrete yields about 2/3 of a cubic foot, a 1 yatd bag of Butterfield's color would do about 40 bags or so. Much cheaper than what you figured. They have distributors in Canada, and probably very near you. Google search them to see their website to find an oitlet and view color charts.
 
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Old 03-22-14, 06:58 PM
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That's under $250 for everything. That's awesome. I'm definitely checking these guys out. Thanks
 
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Old 03-22-14, 08:25 PM
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Toronto Joe -

I did not realize the concept of your "large" job.

For a job like yours moving a mold or two that are partially filled using small batches of a bagged concrete mix and some color will eliminate the problems with the uniformity from batch to batch when you come back and fill in the missing spaces.

The color you have found would probably be adequate and give you a natural "range" of tones. The color may be a good pigment with fillers that make it appear cheaper, with less tinting to make it more convenient. The pure pigments are like playing with "dynamite" because of the high tinting strength and long time effects.

Our company donated a 40# bag of red iron oxide to outline areas on a charity ice fishing tournament and there were over $30,000 in claims for stained ice being tracked into homes after the charity event. - Diluting the color makes is easier for many people to work with. If you go by weight, make sure you seal the bags of pure pigment to get consistency over time. - Once we opened a 20 kilo bag(44#), it had to put in 1/4#, 1/2# or 1# baggies because of possible moisture absorption by the "dynamite" pigments.

Dick
 
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Old 03-22-14, 08:58 PM
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You may want to re-think the plan of doing this all with bagged concrete mix. My arithmetic comes up with around 650 total bags needed, based on 1200 S.F. @ 4" thick, and each 80-lb. bag good for 0.65 C.F. of concrete (and a small waste allowance). I'd go with ready-mix myself, and let the plant and trucks do the batching and mixing. In round numbers, and including the weight of water, you'd be batching, placing and compacting close to 58,000 lb. of material over a period of weeks--that's moving 29 tons of very heavy stuff, several times. Order 16 yards of ready-mix, hire a few local finishers and puddlers for a day, and most of the grunt work is taken care of by simply writing a few checks.

My experience with adding color to concrete is somewhat limited, but the long-term performance of both liquid dyes and powdered hasn't been that good. The former tended to vary (considerably) in color intensity from one batch to another, regardless of how careful I thought I was in dosage measuring, while both were prone to fade and bleach out over a period of time. A far preferable option, in my opinion, would be to forget the stamped look, and rather use an exposed aggregate finish, broadcasting colored aggregate over the entire surface, floating it in, and then exposing the aggregate with a combination of brooming and washing with a water spray. I poured a circular driveway for a professional engineer client in NM a few years ago, alternating dyed concrete panels with exposed aggregate panels. The fussy engineer never let me forget (I had to work with the guy for several years after) about how unhappy he was with the way the dye bleached out, compared to the great-looking, exposed aggregate that required only an occasional resealing to brighten up its color.
 
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Old 03-23-14, 04:32 PM
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Probably half that amount of concrete Bridgeman, as those paver molds are only about 2" deep. Still a LOT of hand mixing though. But since he's only doing about 9 stones per mold filling, ordering ready mix would not be an option.
The bags of pigment are iron oxides and are very stable and colorfast.
 
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Old 03-23-14, 04:45 PM
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Fair enough - Believe me I'd love nothing more than to get transit mixers in here and some guys to do it but even if I could find someone with the way they're building in this city, it would cost a small fortune....I have a good concrete mixer and a strong back.....So from there it's jut a matter of time. I've done numerous retaining walls and slabs that involved 80lb bags numbering 400+ so I'm not too intimated by this.

I'm really liking the bulk powdered pigment option. I checked out this Butterfield Color place and it looks promising that this is the winner....

Thanks all!
 
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Old 03-24-14, 03:54 AM
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elitecrete.com has water soluble liquid colorant that's uv-resistant to fade as much as possible & there's a distributor in toronto - only caution is colors work best on concrete containing white cement,,, using 1oz per 2b batch sounds about right & there's a full range of pigments avail

no $ int - irc
 
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