Integrally colouring, acid stains, topical dyes, the combinations are vast!
There are many option to consider when thinking about integrating colour into a concrete floor. It can be overwhelming when looking at all the options and how they will effect the overall design of your home or business. Stone Design has been involved in over 500 concrete floor projects, we have strong sense of design and have seen what works. We will not tell you what you need, but can advise based on the experience of many projects.
With colour its best to keep it simple. 90% of the time we are polishing straight grey floors (we refer to them as pumper truck grey). Concrete has aggregate, sand and cement. It is made from natural materials found in our living environment. As result, these materials tend to go with things like hardwood, metal, glass and natural stone. Altering the base colour (integrally colouring) of the concrete can be effective, although we advise to stay with the basic colours. Iron oxide, warming pigments and titanium dioxide are all save bets. If you see the vibrant purple and are considering it, well think again - this will be with you forever - cast in concrete - excuse the pun!
Acid stains provide natural color and depth to concrete floors and other surfaces. Many homeowners are attracted to the transparent, variegated finish that these stains impart. Most acid stains for concrete are a mixture of water, hydrochloric acid, and acid-soluble metallic salts. They work by penetrating the surface and reacting chemically with the hydrated lime (calcium hydroxide) in the concrete. The acid in the stain lightly etches the surface, allowing the metallic salts to penetrate more easily. Once the stain reacts, it becomes a permanent part of the concrete and holds it colour very well. When used in combination with polished concrete and kept clean, acid staining becomes pretty much permanent.
Like stains for wood, acid-based stains are translucent, and the color they produce will vary depending on the color and condition of the substrate they are applied to. Each concrete slab will accept the stain in varying degrees of intensity, creating natural color variations that bring character and distinction to each project. What acid stains don’t offer is a broad color selection. You’ll mostly find them in a limited array of subtle earth tones, such as tans, browns, terra cottas, and soft blue-greens.
Concrete dyes can further enhance your concrete staining projects and open up a whole new set of design and color options.
Dyes can be used as a stand-alone color application, as a base coat prior to acid staining, or to enhance stained surfaces in areas where the stain is not taking and the color needs to be intensified. Unlike acid stains, dyes are not chemically reactive with concrete; instead, they contain very fine color particles that penetrate the concrete surface.
Dye is very predictable because it does not depend on a chemical reaction. However, the applicator can still achieve a mottled look, if desired. Dyes come in a vast array of colors that aren’t available with staining. The colors can easily be mixed at the jobsite or diluted to obtain other shades.
Integrally tinting the mixed concrete has many advantages and can be used in combination with topical stains. Because the material is coloured throughout it's matrix, chips, scratches and spalling will show less contrast over time. If you are considering colour in a concrete floor, we often recommend starting with a integral tint and adjusting the colour with a topical dye if necessary. This multi tiered approach offers a greater chance of getting things right if weather, site conditions or other parameters effect the integrally coloured concrete.
White concrete floors
How white is white is the question
White polished floors are gorgeous, but come with a serious premium. What is white? That is the question. We can use white cement, but the aggregate and sand will alter the colour of the concrete ( see gallery section - Jawl Properties project).
This will give a nice light floor, expect to double the cost of the concrete. If you want to take it further, we can use specialty aggregates, sea schelt sand and titanium dioxide, when I do my floor this is the plan - who doesn't want white polished concrete floors?