Integral Color Guide
Integral colors are admixtures that infuse freshly mixed concrete with all-the-way-through coloring. Integral color products can be liquid, granular, or powdered, are available in a wide range of shades, and are known for producing rich, long-lasting coloring.
Keep reading to learn more advantages of using integral colors on concrete, application tips, and brand recommendations.
Integral concrete colors are typically manufactured with either natural or lab-made iron oxide (FeO), a chemical compound made of iron (Fe) and oxygen (O). The color pigments are formulated to diffuse uniformly throughout newly mixed concrete, yielding rich, transformative shades.
The primary advantage is that, because it extends throughout the entire batch of wet concrete, the deep color will not fade away, even if the surface experiences abrasions after the pad is cured. Plus, integral colors for concrete are chemically stable, so that they won’t weaken over time from exposure to inclement weather or direct sunlight.
Integral colors are also convenient and simple to use. You just blend them into the fresh concrete mix and then pour and finish the concrete as you normally would.
Integral color is perfect for any application where achieving a uniform hue is needed. The most common applications include:
- Patio Floors & Other Exterior Flatwork
- Customized Walkways & Driveways
- Interior & Exterior Countertops
- Interior & Exterior Walls
Also, stamped concrete contractors regularly use integral colors to create backgrounds for complementary accents or antiquing colors.
Some key points to remember about using integral colors on concrete include:
Get the Mixture Right
Always ensure the integral concrete colorant and the concrete mixture are compatible according to their product labels. Mixture incompatibility can result in substandard, unpredictable results. You must also maintain a consistent water-cement-colorant ratio in every batch you mix. Not doing so can lead to an unbalanced, unaesthetic finished product.
Use a High-Quality Subgrade
Ensure that you have a high-quality subgrade when working with colored concrete. This includes 2 to 4 inches of crushed stone, gravel, and sand that have been well-compacted with a surface vibrator. The subgrade should be designed and constructed to drain well and support its intended weight load.
Ensure Proper Finishing
Use wood floats when finishing the surface. Wood floats work better than magnesium floats for finishing integrally colored concrete because magnesium bull floats tend to trap more air under the surface. Also, be aware that troweling colored concrete too soon can trap water under the surface, and troweling it too much can darken the color.
Brands We Trust
Of course, another factor in project success is using the right products. If this is your first time using integral colors, you’ll want to thoroughly research available products.
As a starting point, we recommend the following brands and products because we have had great experiences with them:
Professional Tip: Always read the product labels before purchasing to ensure compatibility with the concrete mix you’ll be using.
Need Help? Contact Stamped Concrete Today!
Are you new to concrete coloring? Stamped Concrete is here to help! We carry a wide range of decorative concrete products, including ASTM C979-compliant integral colors. Our professionals can provide product recommendations and other expert advice.
Please contact us today if you need help selecting the right product for your project or want more tips.