Concrete products might seem like a boring material for your new backyard patio. But concrete is far more versatile than many industrial projects might lead you to believe. A range of dyes exist that can help you or a concrete contractor create a patio floor with vivid hues, the look of marble, or even a custom-designed stencil as the centerpiece.
What are the dye styles available for concrete projects – and how do you know which is right for your project?
Pigment dyes are powdered dyes that are stirred in with concrete at the time of mixing. The dyeing is usually done before your patio is poured so that the color is evenly saturated and minor surface damage doesn't reveal plain concrete underneath.
Pigment dyes are available in a wide variety of colors that range from neutral tones to bold hues. Your concrete contractor will have swatches and examples available for your consideration.
If you already have an existing concrete patio and don't want a complete redo, ask your concrete contractor about the possibility of adding a thin upper layer of new, dyed concrete. The result will be more prone to showing plain concrete when damaged, but pigment dyes offer a lot more color options than a stain paint for the surface.
Acid stains, also called acid etching stains, are a type of dye that causes a chemical reaction in the concrete to bring out the color and a swirled marble effect. Acid stains are available in fewer colors than pigment dyes but offer one of the easiest ways to make your concrete flooring look more high-end, even if you undergo the renovation on your own.
Concrete contractors can use a combination of acid staining and a stencil with traditional stains to create a custom, multi-layered effect. An example would be a stained compass on a marbled background.
Penetrating dyes are water-based stains that seep deep into the concrete in a similar manner as acid stains but without the chemical reaction. The dyes are available in a narrow range of colors than pigment dyes because the dye is slightly sheer in nature in the same way that wood stain colors but still shows off the textures of natural wood.
The penetrating dyes are a bit of a middle ground between pigment dyes and acid stains in that the color is more controllable, like pigments, but can be done over an existing patio with little effort, like acid stains.
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